U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Characteristics of Arrestees at Risk for Co-Existing Substance Abuse and Mental Disorder

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2004
19 pages
In examining the profile of offenders presenting with dual symptoms, this federally funded study identified characteristics of adult arrestees presenting with risk factors for current mental illness and/or current substance abuse or dependence.
Recent research indicates that the majority of arrestees with severe mental disorder have a co-existing substance disorder. There is the need to divert individuals with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders from the criminal justice system to treatment. This study, supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice was conducted as a supplemental study to the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County ADAM (Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring) program in 2003. The study set out to identify the characteristics of adult arrestees at risk for dual disorder and to develop a dual risk screening interview that would be useful for jails during the booking process in order to link clients to assessment services. A total of 311 arrestees were interviewed and provided a urine sample for testing. It was clear that the overlap between substance disorder and mental disorder was substantial. One-third of the arrestees indicated at least one risk factor for mental disorder and one risk factor for substance disorder. Dual risk clients tended to be significantly more likely to be homeless, unemployed, or uninsured, implying that sending them back into the community for outpatient treatment may be insufficient. The study also reported the importance of family history as a potential risk factor, as well as important information for early intervention programs. A strong link between cocaine use and dual risk was supported in this study with almost half of the cocaine users scoring at dual risk. The results of this study indicate a critical need to develop effective and efficient means to link these identified clients to appropriate diagnostic and treatment services. References

Date Published: April 1, 2004