A study being released today by the Office of National Drug Control Policy shows 22 percent of Portland’s male arrestees tested positive for opiates in 2010, nearly double the 2007 figure.
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The percentage testing positive for methamphetamine also rose sharply since 2007, hitting 20 percent, but the percentage using cocaine dropped significantly.
The study found that nearly half of arrested men tested positive for marijuana, making it the most commonly found drug. And 32 percent tested positive for more than one drug.
The research, looking into links between drug use and crime, sampled men arrested for all types of offenses. It did not test for alcohol.
The Internet and lax prescription writing have expanded access to opiates, said Viccie Boeckel, owner and program director at Ram Clinic in Portland, an addiction center. Young people in particular are increasingly using mixes of prescription drugs such as methadone and oxycodone, she said.
Portland police have observed the opiate trend, too.
“There has been an increase in the availability and therefore the use,” said Lt. Robert King, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman. “Very often the addiction will drive property crime and sometimes violent crime.”
King added that drug-addled suspects are less predictable and cooperative. “When the impulsiveness goes up and judgment is impaired, we have to use higher force,” he said.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the drug control policy office, said in a news release: “These findings illustrate why we must approach our nation’s drug problem as a public health and safety problem.”