Serious Mental Illness and Arrest: The Generalized Mediating Effect of Substance Use

crime & delinquencyThis study published in Crime & Delinquency examines the relationship between psychiatric disorders, substance use, and arrests for violent, nonviolent, and drug-related offenses using data collected for the 2001 and 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Outcomes showed that for violent offenses, the association between serious mental illness (SMI) and arrest across psychiatric diagnoses was substantially but only partially mediated by substance use. For nonviolent offenses and for drug-related offenses, the relationship between SMI and arrest was almost completely mediated by substance use and reduced to statistical nonsignificance. These findings suggest that co-occurring substance use increases the chances a person with any SMI will be arrested for any offense, not just violent offenses, but that the magnitude of this relationship varies by offense type and, to a lesser extent, by disorder.