Academic journal article Journal of Drug Issues

Exploring Arrestee Drug Use in Rural Nebraska

Academic journal article Journal of Drug Issues

Exploring Arrestee Drug Use in Rural Nebraska

Article excerpt

Since 1987, the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM-formerly known as the Drug Use Forecasting Program) has documented the prevalence and type of arrestee drug use across the nation. Unfortunately, this research is limited to urban or metropolitan areas, possibly because of presumed low levels of both crime and drugs in rural areas. The purpose of this paper is to present the importance of researching arrestee drug use in rural areas using data collected from the Rural ADAM Pilot Program. Specifically, this study examines the prevalence and type of arrestee drug use in four rural Nebraska counties and compares these results to those found in Omaha, Nebraska, which is a current ADAM site. Results indicated that arrestee drug use is similar to that in urban areas and the type of arrestee drug use varies across rural counties as well as between rural and urban areas. Most importantly, rural arrestee methamphetamine use appeared to exceed Omaha arrestee use in one rural area. These findings have substantial implications for planning at the local, state, and federal levels.


A substantial amount of research examines the prevalence of drug use among offenders and contributes to our knowledge on drugs and crime (Belenko & Peugh, 1998; Chaiken & Chaiken, 1990; Brooke, Taylor, Gunn, & Maden, 1993; Peters, Greenbaum, Edens, Carter, & Ortiz, 1998; Warner & Leukefeld, 2001). One of the most instrumental programs in this area is the ADAM program, which tracks the prevalence of drug use among arrestees in 34 sites across the nation (Department of Justice [DOJ], 2000). Specifically, ADAM findings demonstrate that drug use is prevalent among all types of offenders, not just drug offenders; marijuana is the most prevalent drug among arrestees; multiple drug use among arrestees is often common; and the prevalence of harder drugs such as heroin, cocaine/crack, and methamphetamine varies by geographic location.

Unfortunately, ADAM as well as other research in this area traditionally focuses on metropolitan or well-populated areas, neglecting the role of drug use among offenders in rural areas. Urban-based studies rarely reflect the demographic, social, and cultural differences in rural areas and do not address how the findings may or may not apply to rural populations. The absence of rural areas from this research contributes to the impression that rural areas are "safe havens" from such problems; yet, statistics indicate that rural areas face increasing challenges from both drug use and crime. While the characteristics of rural areas (e.g., smaller populations and informal networks) potentially make these areas more vulnerable to the social problems caused or facilitated by drug use and crime, the impression that rural areas are "safe" from the problems of drug use often presents a significant obstacle to securing external funds. In particular, rural areas are less likely to receive funds with little or no data to document the role of drug use among offenders. The purpose of this study is to address this gap in the literature by examining the prevalence of drug use among arrestees in rural areas using ADAM data collected as part of an outreach pilot study. This study will document the prevalence of drug use among rural arrestees, identify which drugs are most significant in rural areas, and compare drug use among rural arrestees to that among urban arrestees in Nebraska.


In 1981, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a report on rural drug use and found that rural lifetime drug use prevalence rates had increased to two-thirds of nonrural use rates between 1974 and 1979. Based on these trends, the authors predicted that rate differences would disappear entirely if current declining trends persisted (Harrell & Cisin, 1981, p. 1). This prediction came closer to reality at the turn of the 21st century. …

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