For the last 20 years, the San Diego Association of Governments has required drug testing of anyone arrested and booked into the county jail. Results of the testing plus interviews of the arrestees taken in 2020 reflect interesting trends in drug use among them.
Most people arrested and booked into jail in San Diego County test positive for drugs, even if the arrest relates to another offense. Analysis from 2020 revealed an interesting discrepancy between men and women booked into jail during that year.
What were the gender differences in drug use in male versus female arrestees?
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, statistics showed a marked decrease in drug use among female arrestees in 2020: 67% testing positive compared to 82% the previous year. This was the lowest rate of drug use among female arrestees since 2015.
By contrast, drug use among male arrestees reached a 21-year high in 2020: 82% tested positive for one or more illicit substances. This was a less dramatic change as it was only 3% higher than the previous year.
What substances did testing identify?
For both men and women arrested in 2020, the substance most commonly found through drug testing was methamphetamine. During the interviews, nearly a third of arrestees said they believed they had taken a drug laced with fentanyl, though 91% said that they would not knowingly purchase it.
What factors may have affected the results of the study?
In 2020, modified booking policies were in place. As a result, fewer people were available for interviews related to the study.
Only 81 women gave interviews related to the study, compared to 227 men. Arrest totals for each gender were not available.