Triangulated investigating: An approach to the estimating of the extent of heroin use

W. J. Riley, M. O. Wagenfeld, S. Sonnad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


An increased national concern in recent years about the problem of abuse of various drugs led to a number of efforts at estimating their prevalence. In part, these studies are remarkable for their widely divergent findings. One source of difficulty is a tendency to rely on single measurements. Social scientists have suggested that the use of multiple measures - triangulation - reduces the risk of measurement error. Using data from an epidemiological investigation of the prevalence of drug use in a southwest Michigan county, several methods of estimating heroin use were examined and compared: informants from law enforcement and community service agencies, arrest records, treatment data, and a formula based on the economics of heroin and the dollar value of acquisitive crime, and interpolation of calculations from national trends. The range of estimates, based on these different procedures, varied from 250 to 3,500 addicts. Triangulation techniques indicated lower estimates of drug addiction. Suggestions for further use of these techniques are made.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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