Drugged and dangerous: Prevalence and variants of substance use comorbidity among seriously violent offenders in the United States

Matt DeLisi, Michael G. Vaughn, Christopher P. Salas-Wright, Wesley G. Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

35 Citations (Scopus)


The evidence is clear that substance use and drug problems often accompany other antisocial behavior generally and violent behavior specifically; however, the specificity of the drug/violence nexus is less clear. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) between 2008 and 2012, the current study examined the prevalence and possible heterogeneity of substance use among serious violent offenders in the United States. Three latent classes were discovered: Class 1 (61.18% of sample) who displayed limited substance use morbidity, Class 2 (28.17% of sample) who displayed comorbid alcohol and marijuana use disorders, and Class 3 (10.65% of sample) who displayed polydrug abuse/dependence and severe criminal careers. Additional results indicated that the most serious violent offenders have substance use problems that appear amenable to treatment; however, the most antisocial violent offenders also have the most severe drug problems. Implications of study findings for the epidemiology of antisocial behavior and correctional interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-248
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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