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SANDAG Report Finds Drug Use is at a 19-Year High among Adult Female Arrestees

San Diego County CA— Drug use among adult female arrestees in the San Diego region is at its highest rate since 2000, with 79% testing positive for at least one illicit substance, according to a report released by the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division on Thursday. The report also found that 76% of males tested positive for at least one drug, the second highest rate in 19 years.

The SANDAG report, CJ Bulletin: 2018 Adult Arrestee Drug Use in the San Diego Region found that around one in three arrestees tested positive for more than one drug. Of those who tested positive for multiple substances, 92% were positive for meth, 82% marijuana, 29% opiates, and 15% cocaine/crack.

Other findings include

  • Meth remained the drug of choice for adults tested, with 55% of males and 62% of females positive in 2018
  • Despite legalization, almost two-thirds of arrestees reported obtaining marijuana on the street illegally in the past year. Additionally, two-thirds of those positive for marijuana were also positive for another drug.
  • About one in three arrestees said they would or might buy a drug that contained fentanyl

“While many policies have been implemented statewide in the past several years related to drug offenses, it is clear from these data that drug use and crime are correlated,” said SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Director Dr. Cynthia Burke. “The majority of individuals who do have justice system contact are also dealing with underlying drug use issues, most often meth.”

SANDAG also released a report this week about meth use in San Diego County. The report, 2018 Methamphetamine Use by San Diego County Arrestees, found that while the portion of juveniles who tested positive for meth was down and the percent of adult males who tested positive remained the same in 2018, the number increased to 62% in adult females. This represents a new 19-year high.  The report also found that meth was more available, cheaper, and stronger in 2018 compared to 2014.

This report is one in a series highlighting findings from data collected as part of the San Diego County Substance Abuse Monitoring program. Since 2004, when federal funding for the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program was suspended, San Diego has been the only site to continue this project uninterrupted. With funding from the SANDAG Criminal Justice Clearinghouse, these data have been reported annually to provide useful information to policy makers, as well as law enforcement, prevention, and treatment professionals regarding drug use trends and involvement in other risky or illegal behavior over time.

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The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) is the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency, providing the public forum for regional policy decisions about growth, transportation planning and construction, environmental management, housing, open space, energy, public safety, and binational topics. SANDAG is governed by a Board of Directors composed of mayors, council members, and supervisors from each of the region’s 18 cities and the county government.