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Substance Abuse Monitoring Program

The social, health, and financial consequences of drug abuse are important concerns. To target resources appropriately with respect to prevention, intervention, enforcement, treatment, and interdiction, the nature and scope of drug use must be carefully monitored.

For practitioners and policymakers, examination of drug use trends over time can identify access and availability of types of drugs as well as changes in the population sub-groups’ (e.g., ethnic groups, age categories, gender, etc.) use of specific types of drugs. The ability to monitor drug use trends provides a means to evaluate the impact of new drug prevention and control strategies, and can also be used as a research platform to learn about other issues affecting the drug abusing population.

The purpose of the Substance Abuse Monitoring (SAM) program is to identify drug use trends among the adult and juvenile offender populations in order to develop appropriate strategies for the prevention of drug abuse. Biannually, SANDAG staff conduct interviews with a sample of adults and juveniles arrested and booked into the San Diego County detention facilities. After a confidential interview about their drug use, SAM participants are asked to provide a voluntary and anonymous urine sample for drug analysis. Funding is currently provided by the California Border Alliance Group and the County of San Diego.

As the site coordinator since the program inception in 1987, SANDAG received funding from the National Institute of Justice for the juvenile component until fall 2002 and for the adult component through the 2003 calendar year. At that time the program was referred to as the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program.

Data from the SAM research are presented annually in summaries that profile study participants and results from their interviews and urine analyses.

Project Manager

Dr. Cynthia Burke, Director, Research and Program Management
Phone: (619) 699-1910, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or