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The White House
For Immediate Release

New Survey Results Show Majority of Adult Males Arrested in 10 U.S. Cities Test Positive for Illegal Drugs At Time of Arrest

White House Drug Policy Advisor Calls for Addressing Drug Challenge as Public Health Issue, Not Just a Criminal Justice Issue; Outlines Administration Actions to Reform Criminal Justice Systems to Address Underlying Causes of Crime

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released the 2011 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Annual Report (ADAM II).  The 2011 report reveals that in the 10 participating cities/counties, more than half of adult males arrested for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies tested positive for at least one drug.  Positive test results ranged from 64 percent in Atlanta, GA to 81 percent in Sacramento, CA, illustrating the link between drug use and crime and highlighting the importance of Obama Administration drug policies designed to break the cycle of drug use, arrest, incarceration, release, and re-arrest.

Some other key findings from the report: 

  • Fewer adult male arrestees are testing positive for cocaine.  All ten sites showed a significant decrease in 2011 compared to 2007 (see chart below).  In New York and Chicago, cocaine positives dropped from 50 percent or more in 2000 to half that in 2011.
  • Use of opiates (including heroin and prescription pain relievers) changed significantly in different directions across sites. In Chicago and New York, use has steadily declined from 20-36 percent in 2000 to nearly half those numbers in 2011. In Denver, Indianapolis, Sacramento, and Minneapolis use has more than doubled from 3-4 percent in 2000 to 8-10 percent in 2011.
  • Methamphetamine positives remain high and have increased in recent years in Portland, OR and Sacramento with 23 percent and 43 percent, respectively, testing positive for the drug in 2011.

“These data confirm that we must address our drug problem as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue,” said Director Kerlikowske. “Decades of research and experience show us crime and drug use are linked, and too often underlying substance use disorders are the driving force of criminal activity taking place in our communities. While the criminal justice system will always serve a vital role in protecting public safety, we cannot simply arrest our way out of the drug problem,” he continued, “instead, we must also support evidenced-based programs and policies that work to break the vicious cycle of drug use and crime, reduce recidivism, and make our communities healthier and safer.”

ADAM II is a unique Federal data collection program that shows drug use patterns among arrestees. In each of the ten U.S. counties included in the program, data are collected from adult male arrestees, through voluntary interviews and drug tests, within 48 hours of arrest.  The sample is drawn from all adult males arrested, not just those arrested on drug charges.  Tests are conducted to detect the presence of the following drugs: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines/methamphetamine, Darvon, PCP, benzodiazepines, methadone, and barbiturates. ADAM II does not test for alcohol.  The ten sites measured in the report are: Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Indianapolis, IN; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; and Washington, D.C.

In April, the Obama Administration released the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy, the Obama Administration’s primary blueprint for drug policy in the United States.  The new Strategy provides a review of the progress we have made during the past 3 years and also looks ahead to continuing Federal efforts to reform, rebalance, and renew national drug control policy to address the public health and public safety challenges of the 21st century.  Specifically, the new Strategy is guided by three facts:  addiction is a disease that can be prevented and treated; people with substance use disorders can recover; and innovative new criminal justice reforms can stop the revolving door of drug use, crime, incarceration, release, and re-arrest. 

Some key actions taken by the Administration:

  • Over the past three years, the Federal Government has spent over $30 billion on drug prevention and treatment—more than what the Federal Government spends on U.S. drug law enforcement and incarceration.
  • The Administration is ardently supporting the expansion of drug courts, which place non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of prison. Today, there are more than 2,600 drug courts across the Nation, diverting about 120,000 people a year into treatment instead of incarceration. 
  • The Administration is implementing the Second Chance Act, providing funding for programs that improve coordination of reentry services and policies at the state, tribal, and local levels, including demonstration grants, reentry courts, family-centered programs, substance abuse treatment, employment, mentoring, and other services needed to reduce recidivism and improve the transition from prison and jail to communities.  As part of this effort, the Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded $100 million in FY 2010 to support 178 state and local reentry grants to provide a wide range of services and in FY 2011 DOJ awarded another $83 million to 118 new grantees.  An additional $63 million has been appropriated this year for new grants.
  • The Obama Administration has convened a cabinet-level Federal Interagency Reentry Council consisting of 20 Federal agencies to eliminate barriers to successful reentry by formerly incarcerated individuals through improved employment, housing, treatment, and education opportunities.

Thanks largely to comprehensive efforts to address drug use at the local, state, Federal, and international levels, the rate of overall drug use in the United States has declined by roughly 30 percent since 1979. More recently, there has been a 40 percent reduction in the rate of current cocaine use and meth use has dropped by half.  To build on this progress and support the public health approach to drug control outlined in the Strategy, the Obama Administration has committed over $10 billion for drug education programs and support for expanding access to drug treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders in FY 2012. 

To view the entire report, click here.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy seeks to foster healthy individuals and safe communities by effectively leading the Nation’s effort to reduce drug use and its consequences.