White House Issues Annual Drug Report

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The Office of National Drug Control Policy’s annual report from 2011 has been released by the White House. The report, Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) tabulates data from a sample set across the nation about drug use among those police have in custody. It is considered a solid picture of drug use in the nation because the results aren’t voluntary or merely survey-based (although admitted drug use is also reported). These numbers are based on actual drug testing of arrested individuals.

All such data sets are skewed in some fashion, and this one only captures those drug users who have been arrested by police and only in nine counties. It also doesn’t include data on alcohol abuse, or data on underaged drug users. However, it does give a nice snapshot of trends. For this reason, drug policy decisions will reference the material.

Some highlights from the study:

• Drug use among the arrestee population is much higher than in the general U.S. population.
• At the 10 sites participating in the ADAM II study, over 60 percent of booked arrestees tested positive for at least one illicit drug at the time of their arrest. In 5 of the sites (Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, and Sacramento), 70 percent or more tested positive.
• The proportion of arrestees in each site testing positive for any drug ranged from 64 percent (Atlanta) to 81 percent (Sacramento).
• Cocaine positives have declined significantly in all ADAM II sites since 2007 (see chart, page 2). In New York and Chicago, cocaine positives dropped from 50 percent or more in 2000 to half that in 2011.
• The most commonly detected drug in all sites was marijuana (from 36 percent in Atlanta to 56 percent in Sacramento).

The full report can be found (in .pdf) here.

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