Comparison of Self-Reported Drug Use and Urinalysis of Adult Male Arrestees

Jennifer E. Johnson, Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation

The National Institute of Justice's Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program tracks trends in the prevalence and types of drug use among booked arrestees in urban areas. At each of the thirty-five ADAM sites, trained interviewers collect voluntary and anonymous interviews (approximately 30 minutes in length) and urine specimens from adult male, adult female, juvenile male, and juvenile female arrestees. Arrestees are approached within 48 hours of their arrest and asked to participate in the study. At most sites, more than 80% of the individuals approached agree to the interview and, of those, more than 80% agree to give urine specimens. Data collection takes place four times a year (once each calendar quarter) at each site. Data collection periods generally last two consecutive weeks each quarter (ADAM web site). The focus of this paper deals with the self-report question: "During the past 48 hours, on how many days did you use [insert drug]" (ADAM interview form). The five drugs that can be included in this question are marijuana, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. The interview also inquires about 7-day use and 30-day use. However for the purpose of relying on accurate urinalyses, this paper focuses on 48-hour use. The question examines how many days the individual had used the drug. Since the comparison focuses on whether or not the interviewee tested positive for drugs, the self-report responses were recoded to either used or had not used each drug. When the 2000 data collection period took place, powder cocaine and crack cocaine were not distinguished from each other in the urinalyses reports. Therefore for the purpose of this paper, powder cocaine and crack cocaine were merged together to form the variable cocaine. Data from seven out of thirty-five ADAM sites were selected for inclusion in this analysis. These sites include, Atlanta, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Omaha, Sacramento, Spokane, and Tucson. These cities were chosen to represent primary regions of the United States, and together they collected data all four quarters in 2000, and each only worked with one facility. Examining the cities separately and as a whole, there was a noticeable difference between self-report drug use and the urinalysis report. Using weighted data, it is apparent that most of the drugs are greatly under reported. For example looking at Atlanta in the first table, 140 (19.3%) adult male arrestees reported they had used cocaine in the last 48 hours. However the urinalysis shows that 353 (48.4%) of these individuals tested positive for cocaine. The second table shows that methamphetamine use in Sacramento was reported by 81 (15.9%) of the adult male arrestees interviewed. The urinalysis shows 148 (29.2%) tested positive for methamphetamine. Looking at the cities combined, it is also evident that there is a vast discrepancy between the self-report data and the urinalyses reports. This is most prominent when analyzing cocaine use. The combined total for the seven cities' self-report data on cocaine use is 500 (13.2%), however, 1103 (29.1%) of the arrestees tested positive for cocaine.

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Updated 05/20/2006