Violent offenses associated with co-occurring substance use and mental health problems: Evidence from CJDATS
The present study examines the relationship between substance use, mental health problems, and violence in a sample of offenders released from prison and referred to substance abuse treatment programs. Data from 34 sites (n = 1,349) in a federally funded cooperative, the Criminal Justice Drug Abuse Treatment Studies (CJDATS), were analyzed. Among parolees referred to substance abuse treatment, self-reports for the six-month period before the arrest resulting in their incarceration revealed frequent problems with both substance use and mental health. For most offenders with substance use problems, the quantity of alcohol consumed and the frequency of drug use were associated with a greater probability of self-reported violence. Mental health problems were not indicative of increases in violent behavior, with the exception of antisocial personality problems, which were associated with violence. The paper emphasizes the importance of providing substance abuse treatment in relation to violent behavior among offenders with mental health problems being discharged to the community.