Deputies arrest a suspected gang member. Photo courtesy San Diego Sheriff’s Department

Illicit drug use by male arrestees in the San Diego region is at an 18-year high, according to a report released Friday by the San Diego Association of Governments.

SANDAG’s Criminal Justice Research Division surveyed a group of San Diego County arrestees in 2017, chosen by random sampling, within 48 hours of their booking into jail. In total, the CJRD surveyed 347 men from the Vista and Central jails and 156 women from Las Colinas.

The survey found that 79 percent of adult male arrestees and 73 percent of adult female arrestees tested positive for at least one illegal drug, including methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates, PCP and marijuana, which had not yet been legalized in the state. The percentage of men who tested positive is the highest recorded by the CJRD since it began recording data in 2000 and a 4 percent increase from 2016.

The report showed that 55 percent of men and 58 percent of women involved in the survey had tested positive for meth, and of the 90 percent surveyed who tested positive for multiple drugs, meth was one of them. According to the report, 98 percent of the arrestees said they obtained their methamphetamine in San Diego County.

“While the San Diego region has been fortunate in that we have not been devastated by the opiate crisis to the same degree as other jurisdictions, the bad news is that despite our coordinated efforts, meth use locally is higher than it has ever been,” said CJRD Director Dr. Cynthia Burke. “Meth today is cheaper, more potent and readily available than ever. It is important that our communities continue to keep this drug issue at the forefront and that prevention, treatment, and suppression efforts are a priority across the county.”

Positive cocaine test rates have declined among men and women arrestees since 2000, despite a 2 percent increase for men from 5 to 7 percent from 2016 to 2017. Marijuana and opiate use among arrestees both continued to trend up over time for men and women. In spite of the trends, use of cocaine, opiates and marijuana among female arrestees either remained stagnant or declined from 2016 to 2017.

–City News Service

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