Drug use skyrocketed among inmates booked into Phoenix’ Maricopa County jails over the past year, especially among white men arrested for property-related crimes, says an Arizona State University report quoted by the Arizona Republic. Using urine tests and inmate questionnaires, researchers found that the rise of opiate use was especially dramatic among new arrestees, rising from about 2 percent in 2008 to 20 percent last year.
Opiates include heroin, as well as many common prescription pain medications such as Vicodin, OxyContin, codeine, Demerol, and Darvon. David Choate of ASU’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety noted that prescription-drug use is rising nationally among the general population. Amy Rex, director of the county’s criminal-justice project, speculated that the rise of opiate use among the offenders is the result of those who steal to support the habit. “The general public could become a victim,” she said.