Rural-Urban Differences in Arrestees' Perceived Needs for Substance-Specific Treatment

Celia C. Lo, University of Alabama
Richard C. Stephens, University of Akron

An interview study among a group of arrestees in seven county jails was conducted in Ohio between June 1999 and September 2001, examining the prevalence of alcohol and drug dependence within the group and assessing the need for substance abuse treatment. Four of the county jails at which interviews were conducted are in urban areas, and three are in rural areas. The present study looked at demographic variables, situation-related factors, current drug dependence diagnoses, past treatment experience, and jail location-rural or urban. It sought to assess whether these factors predicted arrestees' perceived needs for substance-specific treatment (for alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, or opiate use); and, further, whether any predictors of a perceived need for treatment would be identical for arrestees housed in rural jails and those housed in urban jails. The results show that some of the factors assessed do exert differential effects on rural and urban arrestees' perceived needs for substance-specific treatment. Future treatment policy within the criminal justice system should perhaps take into account inmates' individual characteristics and the rural or urban location of the jail initiating their processing. It may be possible, by paying attention to these variables, to enhance inmates' motivation to enter treatment programs.

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Updated 05/20/2006