One of the greatest challenges for drug regulation is valid, comprehensive surveillance of drugs after they reach the pharmaceutical market. The purpose of this paper is to propose a new method of individual and aggregate-level postmarket surveillance using data previously (and continuously) collected by drug courts, which are in operation in nearly every geographic corner of the USA.
To determine the feasibility of such an undertaking, data were obtained from an urban, southern county drug court. Intake data included all participants from September 2012 to November 2013. The final sample included 532 drug court participants.
Intake data were found to include various demographic variables, measures of drug use, and various sociological/criminological variables such as familial and social support, church attendance, and other pertinent variables for studying drug use and crime trends generally.
By using intake data from drug courts in a manner similar to Uniform Crime Report or National Incident-Based Reporting System, this could add greatly to the understanding of crime and drug use.
The authors purport that a data management system of drug court intake data could provide a cost-efficient and generalizable representation of drug use of those within the criminal justice system.
Many efforts have been employed in an attempt to better ascertain where high rates of drug use occur. By using drug courts as more than just a system of treatment, postmarketing surveillance could be improved.
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