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Publication Drug Use, Dependence, and Abuse Among State Prisoners and Jail Inmates, 2007-2009

Jennifer Bronson, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Jessica Stroop, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Stephanie Zimmer, Marcus Berzofsky, Dr. P.H., RTI International

June 27, 2017    NCJ 250546

Presents prevalence estimates of drug use, drug use disorders, and participation in drug treatment programs among state prisoners and sentenced jail inmates, including trends in drug use over time by demographics and most serious offense, drug use at the time of offense and whether an inmate committed the offense to obtain drugs, and comparisons to the general population. Data are from BJS's National Inmate Survey, conducted in 2007 and 2008-09. Comparisons to the general population are based on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted in 2007, 2008, and 2009.


  • During 2007-09, an estimated 58% of state prisoners and 63% of sentenced jail inmates met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria for drug dependence or abuse.
  • Among prisoners and jail inmates, prevalence estimates for those who met the criteria for dependence were two to three times higher than for abuse.
  • The percentage of inmates who met the DSM-IV criteria was higher for those held for property offenses than those held for violent or other public order offenses.
  • Lifetime drug use among the incarcerated populations was unchanged from 2002 to 2009.
  • During 2007-09, prisoners (77%) and jail inmates (78%) reported having ever used marijuana/hashish, more than any other drug.

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National Inmate Survey (NIS)

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