A variety of pills
A variety of pills with different medications. Photo via Pixabay

Drug use is at a 22-year high for men arrested in the San Diego region, while female arrestees are testing positive for drugs at the lowest rate in 14 years, according to a report released Thursday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

SANDAG’s findings were based on a random sampling of detainees interviewed last year at the San Diego Central Jail and the Las Colinas Detention Facility, as part of SANDAG’s Substance Abuse Monitoring program examining drug trends among local offenders.

The new report found that 83% of males and 60% of females tested positive for at least one illicit substance, which includes marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates and PCP. Male arrestees in 2021 were also “significantly more likely” to test positive for multiple drugs than female arrestees, the report states.

The use of methamphetamine, one of the most common drugs used by local arrestees, increased to 58% last year among men. However, the 44% of female arrestees testing positive for meth represented the lowest positive test rate since 2011, and the second straight year meth use rates declined among women.

Among those interviewed, 34% reported committing a crime to support their drug use.

Despite not falling under the umbrella of “illicit substances” listed in SANDAG’s report, alcohol use was also widely reported among the detainees interviewed, with around one-third of detainees reporting binge drinking in the past month.

SANDAG said its data collection efforts were affected by pandemic- related booking policies that sought to reduce the overall jail population.

SANDAG Senior Director of Data Science Dr. Cynthia Burke said, “However, regardless the majority were positive for at least one substance, indicating the extent of need of the justice-involved population.”

–City News Service


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Ellen Bullock