Chicago ranks worst in drug abuse study

  • By Alex Parker
  • Staff Writer
  • May 29, 2009 @ 9:00 AM

People arrested in Chicago are more likely than prisoners in other major cities to test positive for drugs, according to a new report from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The report, based on data collected in 2008, shows 87 percent of people arrested in Chicago test positive for drugs. Heroin use in the city is up 45 percent since 2007. Chicago is also the nation's number city for heroin use among arrestees, the report says.

The data, from a report called the 2008 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program, looked at drug use among male arrestees in 10 major cities. It found the most common drugs were marijuana, cocaine, opiates and methamphetamine.

In Chicago, 40 percent tested positive for more than one illegal drug.

"Not only does this new report reaffirm a strong link between drug use and crime, but it also tells us that we must concentrate our resources on programs that have been proven to break the cycle of drugs and crime," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy, in a statement.

The federal research coincides with a study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, which found substance abuse and addiction cost Illinois $4.8 billion a year. About $2.5 billion of that is directed towards drug addicts and their care in prisons and hospitals, according to 2005 data.

The state spends $179 million on prevention and treatment.

Daily News Staff Writer Alex Parker covers public health. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 17, or alex [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.