The present study examined the utility of several substance abuse factors in predicting general and violent recidivism. A quantitative meta-analytic review was used to examine five substance abuse predictor categories. Forty-five studies were selected for inclusion, producing 116 individual effect size estimates. Overall, the meta-analysis generated a weighted mean effect size of .10 between substance abuse and general recidivism. A combined alcohol and/or drug problem predictor category yielded the highest mean effect size (Mz+ = .22), followed by drug abuse (Mz+ = .19), parental substance abuse (Mz+ = .13), and alcohol abuse (Mz+ = .12). Interestingly, substance abuse convictions were not related to general recidivism (Mz+ = -.02). The results not only confirm the overall predictive relationship between substance abuse and criminal recidivism but also suggest that appropriately identifying the type of substance abuse factor may enhance the predictive utility of several risk assessment instruments.

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Psychology, Crime and Law
Department of Psychology

Dowden, C. (Craig), & Brown, S. (2002). The role of substance abuse factors in predicting recidivism: A meta-analysis. Psychology, Crime and Law, 8(3), 243–264. doi:10.1080/10683160208401818