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Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us
in the 23 DUF sites and 12 new sites to improve estimates of drug use among booked arrestees. The new ADAM methodology carefully defines the population being sampled in each site (typically all arrests at the county level). A goal of ADAM, according to the National Institute of Justice, is to provide estimates that are equally precise in each site. The new methodology therefore tailors case production to such factors as site size and the rates at which booked arrestees test positive in different jails (National Institute of Justice, 1998).
ADAM has also initiated a probability-based sample of arrests in each site, involving the random selection of a sample from a roster of all booked arrestees who were eligible to be interviewed during the referent data collection period. Selection intervals are based on the case flow in each site, so that interviewing is conducted when the greatest volume of arrests occurs.
The new design facilitates better individual site estimates and also supports important research on within-city and city-to-city variations in the nature of drug markets and in patterns of use among arrestees. Available resources do not permit the implementation of ADAM in a representative sample of jurisdictions across the country.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) compiles data on hospital emergency department episodes that medical staff conclude were the result of the abuse of legal and illegal drugs. The survey is administered in an ongoing national probability sample of general-purpose, nonfederal, short-stay hospitals with at least one 24-hour emergency department. The current sample design, which has been employed since 1988, is based on the survey of hospitals conducted by the American Hospital Association. The sample is updated once each year as new survey information is released. Hospitals are compensated for the time expended by the staff in preparing the DAWN records. Emergency department estimates are produced for 21 metropolitan statistical areas and for the nation. Hospitals outside these 21 areas are sampled to allow for national estimates based on a probability sample.
The survey covers episodes involving persons age 6 and older who were treated in the hospital’s emergency department with a presenting problem that medical staff decide was induced by or related to the non-medical use of a legal drug or any use of an illegal drug. The DAWN report records a limited set of information about the patient and the drug use that caused the emergency department episode. DAWN classifies the motive for drug abuse as dependence, suicide attempt or gesture, or to achieve psychic effects. DAWN data elements are abstracted retrospectively from medical documentation produced during the patient’s treatment in the Emergency Department.
DAWN also collects information on drug-related deaths from selected