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Seventy-five percent of male adult arrestees and 74 percent of female adult arrestees booked into jail in 2016 tested positive for an illicit substance — the second highest rate since 2000 for both groups, according to an annual substance abuse monitoring report released Thursday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

At least two in every three adult arrestees were under the influence of one or more drugs when they were taken into custody even when researchers in SANDAG’s Criminal Justice Research Division broke the statistics down into the major crime categories — like violent, property or drug offenses.

According to the study, methamphetamine was the drug most frequently found in offenders — 55 percent of males and 58 percent of females tested positive last year. The percentages testing positive for meth were the highest since 2000, and 20 percentage points above the level of 2012.

The researchers also discovered that among arrestees who tested positive for multiple drugs, 91 percent were using meth along with something else. Also, 79 percent of those who had ever tried meth reported using it in the past year.

“While our region has worked collaboratively for many years to reduce the demand for and supply of meth, the numbers we saw in this study are unfortunately consistent with other recent local statistics that show that the price of meth is down, the purity is up, and there are more meth-related deaths in the region than ever,” said SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Director Cynthia Burke.

While opiate use has risen to crisis levels in some areas of the U.S., it’s not as prevalent in the San Diego region, according to the study. However, arrestees under the age of 25 were most likely to test positive for opiates.

SANDAG said about one-third of those who tested positive for heroin said they abused prescription drugs first and then switched to heroin, most often because it was cheaper and easier to obtain.

Adult female arrestees were more likely to test positive for opiates, 15 percent last year, compared to males, 9 percent.

—City News Service