Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 88, Issue 2, pp 352–364 | Cite as

Methamphetamine Use and High-Risk Sexual Behaviors among Incarcerated Female Adolescents with a Diagnosed STD

  • Jane K. SteinbergEmail author
  • Christine E. Grella
  • Melina R. Boudov
  • Peter R. Kerndt
  • Carmel M. Kadrnka


Juvenile detention settings provide an important venue for addressing the health-related needs of adolescent populations, who often have high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and concomitant drug use. This study examines factors associated with methamphetamine use and risky sexual behaviors among 539 incarcerated female adolescents between ages 12–18 years with an STD diagnosis. Data were obtained from interviews with detainees receiving STD case management services within a California juvenile detention facility in January 2006–June 2007. High-risk behaviors characterized the sample, such as low use of condoms consistently (43.3%), prior STD infection (25%), pregnancy history (26%), arrest charge for prostitution or drug use (23%), and a history of prostitution (18%). Half of the sample reported weekly alcohol or drug use; most commonly used drugs were marijuana (37%), alcohol (21%), and methamphetamine (16%). In multivariate analysis, African Americans had a lower odds of methamphetamine use (odds ratio [OR] = .163) compared with whites. Detainees who reported inconsistent condom use had over twice the odds of methamphetamine use (OR = 2.7) compared with consistent condom users. In addition, those who reported alcohol use had twice the odds of methamphetamine use (2.0). There was a significant interaction between Latina ethnicity and having an arrest charge for drugs or prostitution; Latinas who had this charge had over 11 times the odds of using methamphetamine compared with those with other arrest charges (OR = 11.28). A better understanding of the relationship between drug use and sexual risk behaviors of STD-positive incarcerated female adolescents can inform the development of appropriate corrections and community-based interventions serving this segment of high-risk adolescents.


Adolescents Girls Incarceration Methamphetamine Sexually transmitted diseases Substance use Sexual behavior 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the work of case managers Kirsten Wilson and Kimberly Coffee, who conducted intake interviews. We also wish to thank Elizabeth Teshome and Kris Langabeer, who assisted with manuscript preparation, and Christine Wells of the UCLA Academic Technology Services who provided statistical support.


  1. 1.
    Gonzales R, Mooney L, Rawson R. The methamphetamine problem in the United States. Annu Rev Public Health. 2010; 31: 385–98.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Frosch D, Shoptaw S, Huber A, Rawson RA, Ling W. Sexual HIV risk among gay and bisexual male methamphetamine abusers. J Subst Abuse Treat. 1996; 13: 483–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Semple SJ, Grant I, Patterson TL. Female methamphetamine users: social characteristics and sexual risk behavior. Women Health. 2004; 40(3): 35–50.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gonzales R, Ang A, McCann MJ, Rawson RA. An emerging problem: methamphetamine abuse among treatment seeking youth. Subst Abuse. 2008; 29(2): 71–80.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dembo R, Wareham J. Drug use and delinquent behavior: a growth model of parallel processes among high-risk youths. Crim Justice Behav. 2007; 34(5): 680–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sickmund M. Juveniles in residential placement, 1997–2008. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US Dept of Justice. OJJDP Bulletin, NCJ Publication 229379.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Teplin LA, Abram KM, McClelland GM, Dulcan MK, Mericle AA. Psychiatric disorders in youth in juvenile detention. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002; 59: 1133–43.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Short J, Sharp C. Disproportionate Minority Contact in the Juvenile Justice System. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America National Center for Program Leadership Juvenile Justice Division; 2005.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Sickmund M, Sladky TJ, Kang W, Puzzanchera C. Easy access to the census of juveniles in residential placement. Accessed April 27, 2010.
  10. 10.
    Clark MD, Petras H, Kellam SG, Ialongo N, Poduska JM. Who’s most at risk for school removal and later juvenile delinquency? Effects of early risk factors, gender, school/community poverty, and their impact on more distal outcomes. Women Crim Justice. 2003; 14: 89–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Guiding principles for promising female programming. Oct 1998. Accessed April 20, 2010.
  12. 12.
    Gallagher CA, Dobrin A, Douds AS. A national overview of reproductive health care services for girls in juvenile justice residential facilities. Womens Health Issues. 2007; 17(4): 217–26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Morris RE, Harrison EA, Knox GW, Tromanhauser E, Marquis DK, Watts LL. Health risk behavioral survey from 39 juvenile correctional facilities in the United States. J Adolesc Health. 1995; 17(6): 334–44.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted disease surveillance 2008: special focus profiles: STDs in persons entering correctional facilities. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; updated Nov 16, 2009. Accessed April 20, 2010.
  15. 15.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2006. MMWR Recomm Rep. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2006; 55(RR-11):1–94.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Snyder H. Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics. Girls Study Group Report. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics; 2000.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Smith DK, Leve LD, Chamberlain P. Adolescent girls’ offending and health-risking sexual behavior: the predictive role of trauma. Child Maltreat. 2006; 11(4): 346–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Teplin LA, Mericle AA, McClelland GM, Abram KM. HIV and AIDS risk behaviors in juvenile detainees: implications for public health policy. Am J Public Health. 2003; 93: 906–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Romero EG, Teplin LA, McClelland GM, Abram KM, Welty LJ, Washburn JJ. A longitudinal study of the prevalence, development, and persistence of HIV/sexually transmitted infection risk behaviors in delinquent youth: implications for health care in the community. Pediatrics. 2007; 119(5): 1126–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Tolou-Shams M, Brown LK, Gordon G, Fernandez I. Project SHIELD Study Group. Arrest history as an indicator of adolescent/young adult substance use and HIV risk. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007; 88(1): 87–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Baskin-Sommers A, Sommers I. The co-occurrence of substance use and high-risk behaviors. J Adolesc Health. 2006; 38: 609–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Iritani BJ, Hallfors DD, Bauer DJ. Crystal methamphetamine use among young adults in the USA. Addiction. 2007; 102(7): 1102–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Zapata LB, Hillis SD, Marchbanks PA, Curtis KM, Lowry R. Methamphetamine use is independently associated with recent risky sexual behaviors and adolescent pregnancy. J Sch Health. 2008; 78(12): 641–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Springer AE, Peters RJ, Shegog R, White DL, Kelder SH. Methamphetamine use and sexual risk behaviors in U.S. high school students: findings from a National Risk Behavior Survey. Prev Sci. 2007; 8(2): 103–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Yen CF, Chong MY. Comorbid psychiatric disorders, sex, and methamphetamine use in adolescents: a case-control study. Compr Psychiatry. 2006; 47(3): 215–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rawson RA, Gonzales R, Obert JL, McCann MJ, Brethen P. Methamphetamine use among treatment-seeking adolescents in Southern California: participant characteristics and treatment response. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2005; 29: 67–74.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Kim JY, Fendrich M. Gender differences in juvenile arrestees’ drug use, self-reported dependence, and perceived need for treatment. Psychiatr Serv. 2002; 53(1): 70–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    McDonnell DD, Levy V, Morton TJ. Risk factors for Chlamydia among young women in a Northern California juvenile detention facility: implications for community intervention. Sex Transm Dis. 2008; 36(2): S29–33.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Mauricio AM, Little M, Chassin L, et al. Juvenile offenders’ alcohol and marijuana trajectories: risk and protective factor effects in the context of time in a supervised facility. J Youth Adolesc. 2009; 38(3): 440–53.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Wiesner M, Kim HK, Capaldi DM. Developmental trajectories of offending: validation and prediction to young adult alcohol use, drug use, and depressive symptoms. Dev Psychopathol. 2005; 17: 251–70.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Noone DC. Drug use Among Juvenile Detainees. In: 2000 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring. Washington, DC: Office of Justice Programs, US Dept of Justice; 2003: 135–9.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kingree J, Phan D. Marijuana use and HIV risk among adolescent offenders: the moderating effect of age. J Subst Abuse. 2001; 13: 59–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kingree J, Braithwaite R, Woodring T. Unprotected sex as a function of alcohol and marijuana use among adolescent detainees. J Adolesc Health. 2000; 27: 179–85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Schmiege SJ, Feldstein Ewing SW, Hendershot CS, et al. Positive outlook as a moderator of the effectiveness of an HIV/STI intervention with adolescents in detention. Health Educ Res. 2010. Accessed October 29, 2010.
  35. 35.
    Shih RA, Miles JN, Tucker JS, Zhou AJ, D’Amico EJ. Racial/ethnic differences in adolescent substance use: mediation by individual, family, and school factors. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2010; 71(5): 640–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    deLisle S, Wasserheit JN. Accelerated campaign to enhance STD services (ACCESS) for youth. Sex Transm Dis. 1999; 26(4): S28–43.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Manning WD, Flanigan CM, Giordano PC, Longmore MA. Relationship dynamics and consistency of condom use among adolescents. Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2009; 41(3): 181–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Kenyon DB, Sieving RE, Jerstad SJ, Pettingell SL, Skay CL. Individual, interpersonal, and relationship factors predicting hormonal and condom use consistency among adolescent girls. J Pediatr Health Care. 2010; 24(4): 241–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Grella CE, Hser YI (eds) Drug abuse treatment outcome studies for adolescents (DATOS-A) [Special Issue]. J Adolescent Research. 2001;16(6), 675–696.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Rounds-Bryant J, Staab J. Patient characteristics and treatment outcomes for African Amerian, Hispanic, and white adolescents in DATOS-A. J Adolesc Res. 2001; 16(6): 624–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Elkington KS, Teplin LA, Mericle AA, Welty LJ, Romero EG, Abram KM. HIV/sexually transmitted infection risk behaviors in delinquent youth with psychiatric disorders: a longitudinal study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2008; 47(8): 901–11.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    McClelland GM, Elkington KS, Teplin LA, Abram KM. Multiple substance use disorders in juvenile detainees. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatr. 2004; 43(10): 1215–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Ramchand R, Morral A, Becker K. Seven-year life outcomes of adolescent offenders in Los Angeles. Am J Pub Health. 2009; 99(5): 863–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Bachman JG, et al. Monitoring the Future National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings, 2004. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse; 2005. NIH publication 05-5726.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Abram KM, Teplin LA, McClelland GM, et al. Comorbid psychiatric disorders in youth in juvenile detention. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003; 60: 1097–108.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Marshall BD, Werb D. Health outcomes associated with methamphetamine use among young people: a systematic review. Addiction. 2010; 105: 991–1002.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Teplin LA, Elkington KS, McClelland GM, Abram KM, Mericle AA, Washburn JJ. Major mental disorders, substance use disorders, comorbidity, and HIV-AIDS risk behaviors in juvenile detainees. Psychiatr Serv. 2005; 56(7): 823–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    McDonnell DD, Levy V, Morton TJ. Risk factors for chlamydia among young women in a northern California juvenile detention facility: implications for community intervention. Sex Transm Dis. 2009; 36(2 Suppl): S29–33.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Joseph-DiCaprio J, Farrow J, Feinstein RA, et al. Health care for incarcerated youth. position paper of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. Adolesc Health. 2000; 27(1): 73–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Rosengard C, Stein LA, Barnett NP, et al. Randomized clinical trial of motivational enhancement of substance use treatment among incarcerated adolescents: post-release condom non-use. J HIV AIDS Prev Child Youth. 2008; 8(2): 45–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Bryan AD, Schmiege SJ, Broaddus MR. HIV risk reduction among detained adolescents: a randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2009; 124(6): 1180–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Hendershot CS, Magnan RE, Bryan AD. Associations of marijuana use and sex-related marijuana expectancies with HIV/STD risk behavior in high-risk adolescents. Psychol Addict Behav. 2010; 24(3): 404–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    McBride DC, VanderWaal, CJ, Terry YM, VanBuren H. Breaking the cycle of drug use among juvenile offenders. NCJ 179273 Final technical report. 1999. Accessed October 29, 2010.
  54. 54.
    Tolou-Shams M, Stewart A, Fasciano J, Brown LK. A review of HIV prevention interventions for juvenile offenders. J Pediatr Psychol. 2010; 35(3): 250–61.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane K. Steinberg
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christine E. Grella
    • 2
  • Melina R. Boudov
    • 1
  • Peter R. Kerndt
    • 1
  • Carmel M. Kadrnka
    • 3
  1. 1.Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, STD ProgramLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations