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Longitudinal Analysis of Drug Use Reporting Among Houston Arrestees

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 31 Issue: 3 Dated: Summer 2001 Pages: 757-766
Date Published
10 pages

This article examines whether the willingness to self-report illegal drugs fluctuates temporally.


Past studies suggest that less serious drugs of abuse are more readily reported than others. Houston arrestees testing positive for marijuana, cocaine, and heroin were surveyed through the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) Program between 1990 and 1997. A total of 11,095 arrestees were surveyed representing three racial categories and evenly distributed ages. Self-report data and drug screening tests were used. Data analysis was accomplished in two phases: descriptive statistics were computed and Kappa statistics were generated. The temporal analysis for all three drugs illustrates consistent unwillingness to report their use. Despite this low agreement, analyses indicated that the proportion of drug-positive arrestees who self-reported marijuana, heroin, and powder cocaine use remained relatively stable over time. The willingness to report crack cocaine increased over time among all arrestees in the sample. There are two potential explanations for this trend. First, a number of studies have shown that the use of cocaine is associated with memory loss. Second, marijuana is generally considered a nonserious drug of abuse, while heroin is deeply immersed in the American culture. It is not surprising that the use of marijuana carries less of a stigma than the use of crack or powder cocaine. New drugs of abuse will ease their way into the drug-using culture. Where as once such drugs were stigmatized, the passage of time may relax fears to the point of acceptance. This type of evolution suggest that efforts at drug prevention and stigmatization should either be increased exponentially or be abandoned altogether. 3 tables, 23 references

Date Published: January 1, 2001