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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, Criminal Justice Research Division
Phone: (619) 699-1910, Email:

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

Related Resources


  • 2017 Adult Arrestee Drug Use in the San Diego Region - CJ Bulletin August 2018 [PDF: 305KB]
  • 2017 Methamphetamine Use by San Diego County Arrestees - CJ in Brief July 2018 [PDF: 478KB]
  • Gang Association Among San Diego Arrestees: 2017 Survey Results - CJ in Brief October 2018 [PDF: 546KB]
  • 2016 Adult Arrestee Drug Use in the San Diego Region Aggregate Data [PDF: 2MB]
  • 2017 Adult Arrestee Drug Use in the San Diego Region Aggregate Data [PDF: 1MB]
  • 2017 Methamphetamine Use by San Diego County Arrestees Aggregate Data [PDF: 250KB]
  • CJ Flash April 2016 - Tip the Scale: An Example of Innovative Collaboration Offering Recovery and Rehabilitation [PDF: 107KB]
  • CJ Flash August 2015 - Heroin Use and Heroin-Related Deaths Are Up Nationally [PDF: 316KB]
  • CJ Flash August 2018 - Firearms and Crime: Statistics from UCR and the Substance Abuse Monitoring Program [PDF: 142KB]
  • CJ Flash February 2017 - Drugged Driving - A Growing Public Health and Public Safety Concern [PDF: 198KB]
  • CJ Flash January 2017 - Human Trafficking Awareness Month [PDF: 203KB]
  • CJ Flash July 2016 - Changes in Attitudes and the Use of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Marijuana by Juvenile Arrestees [PDF: 175KB]
  • CJ Flash July 2017 - Heroin Use by San Diego County Arrestees [PDF: 126KB]
  • CJ Flash July 2018 - Alcohol Use by San Diego County Arrestees [PDF: 130KB]
  • CJ Flash June 2015 - Alcohol Use Among Youth Interviewed at Juvenile Hall [PDF: 392KB]
  • CJ Flash June 2016 - Spice - What Is It, Why Do People Use It, And What Can We Do About It? [PDF: 176KB]
  • CJ Flash June 2017 - 25 Girls: A Story of Young Females in Local Detention [PDF: 130KB]
  • CJ Flash June 2018 - 2007 to 2017 – Juvenile Justice System Changes and Substance Abuse Monitoring Data [PDF: 121KB]
  • CJ Flash October 2016 - An Update on Arrestees Who Report Being Homeless [PDF: 385KB]
  • CJ Flash October 2016 - Prop 47: What Can We Learn From Those Who Have Ended Up Incarcerated Again? [PDF: 481KB]
  • CJ Flash October 2017 - Drug Use in the Adult Arrestee Population: Highlights from 2016 [PDF: 548KB]
  • Intravenous Drug Use Among the San Diego County Arrestee Population [PDF: 992KB]