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Drug Abuse and Crime in the District of Columbia

NCJ Number
Date Published
38 pages
This study examined the drug abuse problem and its relation to crime in the District of Columbia between 1982 and 1986.
The illegal use, sale, and distribution of controlled substances are major challenges facing the District. Several traditional indicators show a growing drug problem. Between 1982 and 1986, emergency room incidents increased 71 percent, drug arrests increased 93 percent, and drug convictions increased 559 percent. From 1983 to 1986, drug overdose deaths increased 108 percent. In 1984, 55 percent of adult arrestees were found to be using more than one drug; by 1986, this figure had increased to 68 percent, and by 1987, to 73 percent. Compared to nondrug-using arrestees, arrestees found to be using drugs were more likely to be younger, single, and charged with a drug offense. Of juvenile arrestees tested for drug use in 1986, 34 percent were found to be using drugs (28 percent using phencyclidine, 10 percent using marijuana, and 9 percent using cocaine). Heroin users charged with crimes averaged 32 years old, tended to be single, had not completed high school and were least likely to be charged with a violent crime. Cocaine user profiles were similar, but averaged 28 years old. Phencyclidine users tended to be younger and were more likely to be arrested for violent crime. Of drug treatment approaches, the prevailing ones are detoxification, abstinence, therapeutic communities, and methadone maintenance. 9 figures, 28 tables, photographs, information and treatment resource lists.