This paper discusses the importance of studying arrestee drug use in rural areas by using data collected from the Rural Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM) Pilot Program in four rural Nebraska counties.
Since 1987 the ADAM program has documented the prevalence and type of arrestee drug use across the Nation; however, this research has been limited to urban or metropolitan areas, possibly because of presumed low levels of both drug use and crime in rural areas. In order to test this assumption, ADAM data were collected in both four rural areas of Nebraska and in Omaha during October and November of 1998. Sample size varied by jurisdiction, ranging from 50 in one rural county to 203 in Omaha. Arrestees who agreed to participate in the study were asked to provide a urine specimen and complete an interview that obtained demographic, social, and drug-use history information. The findings indicated that arrestee drug use in rural jurisdictions was similar to that in urban areas. The type of arrestee drug use varied across rural counties as well as between rural and urban areas. The most notable finding was that methamphetamine use in one rural county apparently exceeded methamphetamine use by Omaha arrestees. These findings discredit the view that rural communities are immune to drug use problems, since between 30-45 percent of rural arrestees reported alcohol intoxication at the time of arrest, and 25-38 percent of rural arrestees tested positive for at least one drug at the time of arrest. Also, difference in drug use were more apparent across rural sites rather than between rural sites and Omaha, indicating the importance of measuring "rural" carefully to capture differences among communities. 8 tables and 30 references