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The White House
For Immediate Release

Acting White House Drug Policy Director Releases Report Indicating Need to Treat Addiction Among Criminal Justice Population

Study Reveals Majority of Men Arrested in 5 Major U.S. Cities Test Positive for Illegal Drugs At Time of Arrest, Few Recieving Treatment for Underlying Substance Use Disorders

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy, released the results of the 2013 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring report (ADAM II), which indicates that in the five cities/counties surveyed across the Nation, more than half of adult males arrested for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies tested positive for at least one illegal drug. Botticelli cited the report as further evidence to support the need to expand “smart on crime” criminal justice reforms – from expanded treatment to alternatives to incarceration - called for in President Obama’s drug policy reform plan. The five cities surveyed were: Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; New York, NY; and Sacramento, CA.

According to ADAM II, positive test results among arrestees ranged from 63 percent in Atlanta to 83 percent in Chicago and Sacramento.  Other key findings from the report include:

Only one-quarter or fewer of all arrestees had ever participated in any outpatient drug or alcohol treatment and less than 30% had ever participated in any inpatient drug or alcohol treatment.

An increasing trend from 2000 to 2013 in the proportion of arrestees testing positive for opiates (e.g., heroin, morphine, synthetic opioids) in their systems at the time of arrest was statistically significant in all sites. Additionally, between 4 to 10 percent reported obtaining a prescription drug without a valid prescription in the prior 30 days.

Cocaine use, measured either as positive tests for cocaine metabolites or self-reported powder and/or crack use, continued a significant decline in all sites since 2000.

Marijuana remained the most commonly detected drug in those arrested for all types of offenses, from 34% in Atlanta to 59% in Sacramento.

According to separate data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 53 percent of state inmates and 46 percent of Federal inmates in America have a drug use disorder—and yet only 15 percent of state inmates and 17 percent of Federal inmates with abuse or dependence receive drug treat­ment.[i]

“We cannot incarcerate addiction out of people,” said Director Botticelli. “Drug use and crime are inexorably linked, and we must address the root of this challenge by treating the underlying substance use disorders that contribute to driving crime in our communities. We know treatment works.  We know alternatives to incarceration and support for reentry and recovery programs work. I hope these findings will encourage communities across the nation to consider and expand smarter approaches to criminal justice that will protect public safety while also breaking the cycle of drug use, crime, arrest, and incarceration.”

“Providing appropriate treatment to people with substance use disorders is a win for public safety and a win for public health,” said Steven Rosenberg, President of Community Oriented Correctional Health Services (COCHS). “It reduces recidivism and it reduces costs across both the criminal justice and the health care systems. This new report shows how important it is to change our thinking around how to address substance use disorders. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we now have a tremendous opportunity to expand and make treatment more accessible to underserved populations.”

ADAM II is a unique Federal data collection program that shows drug use patterns among arrestees.  In each of the five U.S. cities/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, oxycodone, buprenorphine, PCP, benzodiazepines, methadone, and barbiturates.  ADAM II does not test for alcohol.

Last year, the Obama Administration released a science-based drug policy that addresses the national drug challenge as a public health issue, not just a criminal justice issue.  The 2013 National Drug Control Strategy is built upon the latest scientific research demonstrating that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain that can be successfully prevented, treated, and recovered from.  As a result, the Strategy directs Federal agencies to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use before it begins, empower healthcare workers to intervene early at the first signs of a substance use disorder, expand access to treatment for those who need it, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.

To view the entire report, click here. Read the fact sheet here

To learn about the Obama Administration’s new drug policy reform plan visit:

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.


Mumola,C.J.,& Karberg,J.C. (2006, rev. 2007). Drug use and dependence, state and federal prisoners, 2004.Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.