(Chicago, IL) – June 15, 2011. A new report released today by the White House reveals that across 10 U.S. cities/counties, more than half of adult males arrested for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies tested positive for at least one drug, including 83% of men arrested in Chicago—the highest rate among the sites studied.
“These findings illustrate why we must approach our Nation’s drug problem as a public health and safety problem,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, who released the study. “Drug addiction is too often the root of crime in our communities.”
The 2010 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) Annual Report offers findings from the Federal data collection program that tracks drug use patterns among arrestees. In each of the 10 U.S. sites 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 individuals arrested, not just those arrested on drug charges.
The head of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC, Inc.), which provides statewide recovery management services for individuals mandated by the Illinois courts to go through treatment as an alternative to prison, is unsurprised by the report’s findings for Chicago.
“Since 2009, the State of Illinois has cut drug abuse treatment funding by 30 percent and as a result far fewer people are receiving the treatment they need,” said TASC President Pamela Rodriguez. “In 2007, 98,000 people in Illinois were receiving treatment, and this year that number is down to 69,000.”
Rodriguez also noted that drug treatment is a powerful weapon to fight crime.
“We have found that among our court-ordered drug treatment clients, criminal activity is reduced by 71 percent compared to before they came to TASC,” said Rodriguez. “You will find no more effective, no more cost efficient weapon to reduce crime among offenders using drugs than drug treatment.”
Rodriguez said that prison costs five times more than treatment with supervision.
“Prison time does not prevent drug-related crimes, it only delays crimes,” said Rodriguez. “Drug treatment prevents crimes.”
Overall, drug use in the United States has dropped substantially over the past 30 years. In response to comprehensive efforts to address drug use at the local, state, Federal, and international levels, the number of Americans using illicit drugs today is roughly half the rate it was in the late 70s.
More recently, there has been a 46 percent drop in current cocaine use among young adults (age 18 to 25 years) over the past five years, and a 68 percent drop in the rate of people testing positive for cocaine in the workplace since 2006.