Study Finds 65 Percent of Inmates Meet Criteria For Addiction But Only 11 Percent Receive Treatment

Of the 2.3 million inmates in prison or jail in the United States, 1.5 million meet the DSM IV medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction. An additional 458,000 had histories of substance abuse; were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their crime; committed their offense to get money to buy drugs; were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug law violation; or shared some combination of these characteristics, according to Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population. Combined these two groups constitute 85 percent of the U.S. prison population.

The new 144-page report released on Friday by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University also reveals that alcohol and other drugs are significant factors in all crime. In 2006, alcohol and other drugs were involved in these inmate offenses:
78 percent of violent crimes;
83 percent of property crimes; and
77 percent of public order, immigration or weapon offenses; and probation/parole violations.

Despite these high rates, the CASA report found that only 11 percent of all inmates with substance abuse and addiction disorders receive any treatment during their incarceration. The report found that if all inmates who needed treatment and aftercare received such services, the nation would break even in a year if just over 10 percent remained substance and crime free and employed. Thereafter, for each inmate who remained sober, employed and crime free the nation would reap an economic benefit of $90,953 per year.

“States complain mightily about their rising prison costs; yet they continue to hemorrhage public funds that could be saved if they provided treatment to inmates with alcohol and other drug problems and stepped up use of drug courts and prosecutorial drug treatment alternative programs,” said Susan E. Foster, CASA’s Vice President and Director of Policy Research and Analysis.

The report also noted that in 2005, federal, state and local governments spent $74 billion on incarceration, court proceedings, probation and parole for substance-involved adult and juvenile offenders and less than one percent of that amount—$632 million—on prevention and treatment for them.

Twelve years ago, CASA released Behind Bars: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population. CASA prepared this report to see if any progress had been made in reducing the number of substance-involved offenders behind bars and to examine and identify promising practices for cost-effective investments. To conduct this study, CASA researchers analyzed data on inmates from 11 federal sources, reviewed more than 650 articles and other publications, examined best practices in prevention and treatment for substance-involved offenders, reviewed accreditation standards and analyzed costs and benefits of treatment.

The CASA report also found that compared to non-substance involved inmates, substance-involved inmates are not only likelier to be re-incarcerated, begin their criminal careers at an early age, and have more contacts with the criminal justice system, but they are also:
Four times likelier to receive income through illegal activity;
Twice as likely to have had at least one parent who abused alcohol or other drugs when they were children;
41 percent likelier to have some family criminal history;
29 percent less likely to have completed at least high school; and
20 percent likelier to be unemployed a month before incarceration.

Click here to read CASA’s full news release on the report.

Study shows marijuana use on rise among high school students

 Proponents of a new approach to drug policy need look no further than the results of the annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, which reports increased youth use of marijuana and a flattening out of many other types of illicit drug use after a prolonged decline.Smoking rates among teens also have fallen to the lowest levels in history, although tobacco-control experts worry that use of smokeless-tobacco products could be rising, according to the study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.The past two years have seen a small but significant increase in the proportion of teens reporting that they used illicit drugs, according to researchers at the University of Michigan, who have conducted the MTF study since 1975. In 2009, 32.8 percent of high-school seniors reported past-year marijuana use, as did 26.7 percent of 10th-graders and 11.8 percent of 8th-graders. Researchers said marijuana use has crept back up to the levels last reported five years ago after a steady decline in reported use dating back to the mid-1990s.

“So far, we have not seen any dramatic rise in marijuana use, but the upward trending of the past two or three years stands in stark contrast to the steady decline that preceded it for nearly a decade,” said lead researcher Lloyd Johnston. “Not only is use rising, but a key belief about the degree of risk associated with marijuana use has been in decline among young people even longer, and the degree to which teens disapprove of use of the drug has recently begun to decline. Changes in these beliefs and attitudes are often very influential in driving changes in use.”

“The small increase in marijuana use and the decline in viewing marijuana use as risky are troubling and may suggest that confusion surrounding discussions of medical marijuana may be encouraging recreational or self-medicating use by teens,” said David Rosenbloom, Ph.D., president and CEO of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University.

Marijuana was almost entirely responsible for the uptick in overall drug-use rates among teens, as reported use of illicit drugs other than marijuana continued to decline in 2009. Cocaine use, for example, is at its lowest reported levels since the early 1990s, and use of drugs like ecstasy, inhalants and LSD also have either fallen or flattened out at relatively low levels.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, called the reports of softening youth attitudes about the perceived risk of marijuana use a “warning sign.”

“These latest data confirm that we must redouble our efforts to implement a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to preventing and treating drug use,” said Kerlikowske, who currently is drafting the Obama administration’s first National Drug Control Strategy, widely expected to recommend shifting more resources to demand-reduction efforts rather than programs to reduce the supply of drugs.

Bruce Mirken, director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) stated in a blog post on the MTF results that youth marijuana use has declined in states that have passed medical-marijuana laws. He noted that the MTF study shows that more high-school seniors now smoke marijuana than cigarettes — findings he said “do not bode well for current policies.”

Progress on Youth Smoking Rates Hailed

Smoking rates among 8th-, 10th-, and 12-graders continued to decline in 2009, according to the MTF findings. Just 11.2 percent of high-school seniors now tell researchers they smoke cigarettes, less than half the rate in 1997. The rate of decline has slowed considerably in recent years, however.

“The much slower progress in recent years is a clear warning to elected officials at all levels that they must resist complacency and redouble efforts to implement proven measures — rather than cutting tobacco prevention programs, as 34 states did this year,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Use of smokeless tobacco rose slightly among 10th-graders, MTF found, with 6.5 percent reporting use of products that the tobacco industry has been increasingly marketing as an alternative to smoking. “Public health experts had predicted this increase in response to the tobacco industry’s wide-ranging and aggressively marketed smokeless products now widely available,” according to a statement from the American Legacy Foundation.

Teen Alcohol Use Rates Bottoming Out?

As with marijuana, far fewer high-school students report drinking alcohol today than did in the 1970s and 1980s, but the long-term trend toward declining use may be slowing to a halt. Past-month use and binge-drinking rates each ticked downward in 2009 among 8th-graders, the MTF survey found, but 10th- and 12th-graders drank and binged at about the same rate last year as they had in 2007.

Still, CASA’s Rosenbloom termed the long-term trends on drinking “very positive” and used the data to rebut recent calls for lowering the legal drinking age as a means to combat binge drinking among college students.

“The 21-year-old drinking law has been an important public-health success, even with limited enforcement,” said Rosenbloom. “This year’s numbers reinforce the importance of keeping the law.”

MTF researchers found that 60 percent of students reported that they could easily obtain alcohol — including a significant drop between 2008 and 2009 and reflecting the long-term decline from a high of 75 percent in 1996. “It would appear that state and local efforts to crack down on sales to underage buyers, perhaps along with greater parental vigilance, have had an effect,” Johnston said.

Little Change Seen in Prescription Drug Misuse

Prescription drug misuse has garnered much media attention and is the focus of antidrug media campaigns from the federal government and groups like the Partnership for a Drug Free America. Antidrug officials said that non-medical use of prescription drugs remains problematic, with almost one in 10 high-school seniors reporting misuse of the prescription painkiller Vicodin, for example, and prescription drugs accounting for 8 of the 13 drugs most frequently abused by 12th-graders.

After several years of rising rates, however, this year’s MTF report finds that misuse of prescription drugs has generally leveled off. The same was true of over-the-counter medications and cold medicines, researchers reported.

The survey also identified a significant decline in reported teen use of methamphetamine: just 1.2 percent of high-school students reported using the drug, the lowest rate since 1999. Federal officials hailed the news, which underscores the belief that meth use is fading as a national threat even as it persists in certain regional pockets.

While awareness of the danger associated with meth use may be high, however, the MTF report found that the same was not true of ecstasy, inhalants and LSD: Johnson noted that perceived risk of these drugs has fallen in recent years even though there has been no corresponding rise in usage rates.

“Given the glamorous name and reputation of [ecstasy], I could easily imagine it making a comeback as younger children entering their teens become increasingly unaware of its risks,” he said, noting that the shift in attitudes toward these drugs and substances could leave young teens more open to experimentation.

The MTF included questions about use of the psychoactive herb salvia divinorum — which has received substantial media coverage in recent years — for the first time in 2009. Researchers found that 5.7 percent of high-school seniors reported using salvia in the past year; the herb grows wild in some regions of the U.S. and remains legal in many states.

Children of Alcoholics

The week of Feb 14- 20, 2010 is being celebrated as the Children of Alcoholics week. Special emphasis is being placed nationwide on treatment and care for children with an alcoholic parent in their lives.

Here is a link to the website of  NACOA the National Association of Children of Alcoholics. It is filled with experience strength and hope for children with many real world programs to help them and those who comfort and support them. Check it out for information you can use in your daily life.

    Along those lines here is a link to SAMHSA’s guide for Community Action for Children of Alcoholics. It is a fact filled program of action, packed into a 41 page PDF.

   If you would like to help get the message of hope out to the children themselves here is a link to the NACOA brochure titled “It Feels so Bad” which speaks to the kids themselves letting them know it’s not their fault and that there is help available. You may print these out and distribute them to the kids yourself.

   And, if you would like to help educate your church  to be more proactive in the community regarding drug and alcohol dependency here is a link to a SAMHSA training manual titled “Core competencies for Clergy and other Pastoral ministers in addressing alcohol and drug dependence and the impact on family members” 

  Although this next pamphlet is designed for use by the clergy, it holds much information that any of us could use.  It is titled “ Preventing and Addressing Alcohol and Drug Problems” and should be recommended reading for all parents and other caretakers of children.


Increasing Substance Abuse Levels among Older Adults Likely to Create Sharp Rise in Need for Treatment Services in Next Decade

According to a new report, need for substance abuse treatment among Americans over age 50 projected to double by 2020
A new study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that the aging of the baby boom generation is resulting in a dramatic increase in levels of illicit drug use among adults 50 and older.  These increases may require the doubling of substance abuse treatment services needed for this population by 2020, according to the report.    

“This new data has profound implications for the health and well-being of older adults who continue to abuse substances,” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “These findings highlight the need for prevention programs for all ages as well as to establish improved screening and appropriate referral to treatment as part of routine health care services.”  

Substance abuse at any age is associated with numerous health and social problems, but age-related physiological and social changes make older adults more vulnerable to the harmful effect of illicit drug use.

“This study highlights the fact that older Americans face a wide spectrum of healthcare concerns that must be addressed in a comprehensive way,” said Assistant Secretary for Aging, Kathy Greenlee.  “The Administration on Aging is committed to working with SAMHSA and all other public health partners in meeting these challenges.”  

The latest SAMHSA short report, Illicit Drug Use among Older Adults, shows that an estimated 4.3 million adults aged 50 or older (4.7 percent) used an illicit drug in the past year. In fact, 8.5 percent of men aged 50 to 54 had used marijuana in the past year (as opposed to only 3.9 percent of women in this age group). The SAMHSA report also shows that marijuana use was more common than nonmedical use of prescription drugs among males 50 and older, (4.2 vs. 2.3 percent), but among females the rates of marijuana use and nonmedical use of prescription drugs were similar (1.7 and 1.9 percent). 

Although marijuana use was more common than nonmedical use of prescription drugs for adults age 50 to 59, among those aged 65 and older, nonmedical use of prescription drugs was more common than marijuana.   

The report, which examines the prevalence of any illicit drug use, marijuana use, and nonmedical use of prescription drugs, is based on data collected during 2006 to 2008 from a nationally representative sample of 19, 921 adults aged 50 or older who participated in SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health The full report may be seen online at

Smoking and Drug Use

I have been massaging and digesting data from the annual SAMSHA study on drug alcohol and tobacco use among the American population and have some interesting slides to show you. I hope you find them as enlightening as I did.

Past month Tobacco use by Education: 

 As observed from 2002 onward, cigarette smoking in the past month was less prevalent among adults who were college graduates compared with those with less education. Among adults aged 18 or older, current cigarette use in 2008 was reported by 34.4 percent of those who had not completed high school, 30.6 percent of high school graduates who did not attend college, 26.6 percent of persons with some college, and 14.0 percent of college graduates.

Among young adults 18 to 22 years old, full-time college students were less likely to be current cigarette smokers than their peers who were not enrolled full time in college. Cigarette use in the past month in 2008 was reported by 27.2 percent of full-time college students, less than the rate of 40.6 percent for those not enrolled full time.

  • Among males aged 18 to 22 in 2008, full-time college students and those not enrolled full time in college did not differ significantly in their rates of past month cigar smoking (18.0 and 18.5 percent, respectively). However, cigar use by males in this age range who were not enrolled full time in college declined from 2007 (21.7 percent) to 2008 (18.5 percent).
  • In 2008, current cigarette smoking was more common among unemployed adults aged 18 or older than among adults who were working full time or part time (43.0 vs. 27.2 and 23.8 percent, respectively). Cigar smoking followed a similar pattern, with 9.8 percent of unemployed adults reporting past month use compared with 6.4 percent of full-time workers and 5.5 percent of part-time workers.

    Tobacco Use by Age:

     Current use of smokeless tobacco in 2008 was higher among adults aged 18 or older who were employed full time (4.8 percent) and those who were unemployed (4.9 percent) than among adults who were employed part time (1.8 percent) and those in the “other” employment category, which includes persons not in the labor force (2.0 percent).

    Use of illicit drugs and alcohol was more common among current cigarette smokers than among nonsmokers in 2008, as in prior years since 2002. Among persons aged 12 or older, 20.4 percent of past month cigarette smokers reported current use of an illicit drug compared with 4.2 percent of persons who were not current cigarette smokers. Past month alcohol use was reported by 67.4 percent of current cigarette smokers compared with 46.7 percent of those who did not use cigarettes in the past month. The association also was found with binge drinking (44.6 percent of current cigarette smokers vs. 16.5 percent of current nonsmokers) and heavy drinking (16.8 vs. 3.8 percent, respectively).

    Drug Use by Employment Status:

    It is interesting stuff if you take the time to think about it.

    Every Picture a Story

    I found some additional charts produced by the Federal government concerning drug and alcohol use by the American citizenry I thought were facinating. I think you might find them useful as well, so they are included in this post. They come from the latest annual survey by SAMHSA detailing drug,alcohol,and tobbaco use by the American public. They detail both how our neighbors are doing, and how our kids are doing, and show a relative stability to the trends over the last few years. I’ll let the charts speak for themselves.

    This first chart shows which drugs were first used by initiates the past year.

    As you can see, Marijuana still leads the pack, followed by pain relievers then inhalants.

    This next chart shows drug usage by age over ths past month,

    As you can see the 16 to 29 group continues to lead the pack, accounting for over 55% of last months drug usage.

    Continuing that theme this chart shows DUI by age for the last month.

    Once again, the 16 to 29 age group leads the group showing over 65% of the total.

    And finally, this last chart shows which substances generated the most requests for treatment in the last month.