Risk of Future Offense among Probationers with Co-occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders



Elizabeth Balyakina, Christopher Mann, Michael Ellison, Ron Sivernell, Kimberly G. Fulda, Simrat Kaur Sarai, Roberto Cardarelli

Community Mental Health Journal

April 2014






The criminal justice system is the primary service delivery system for many adults with drug and alcohol dependence, mental health, and other health service needs. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between risk of future offense, mental health status and co-occurring disorders in a large substance abuse diversion probationer population. A purposive sample of 2,077 probationers completed an assessment to screen for mental health disorders, substance use disorders, risk of future crime and violence, and several demographic characteristics. Probationers who screened positive for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders were significantly more likely to be at higher risk of future crime and violence compared to probationers who screened positive for only substance use, only a mental health disorder, or no substance use or mental health disorder. Implications for substance use and mental health service delivery are discussed, and recommendations are made for further research.