Relationship of Alcohol and other Drugs to Criminal Behaviour

Criminal behavior contributes to social problems. To address this issue many studies had been conducted to know what causes it. Among the studies includes the determination of the influence of alcohol and drug use in criminal behaviour. There had been many evidences to support that alcohol and other drug use had a close link with criminal behavior. However, the main difficulty encountered in understanding the influence of alcohol and drug use is how does it exactly leads to criminal behaviour (Day et al, 2003, 45).

Alcohol in this paper refers to any liquor containing alcohol as the active agent. Drugs on the other hand refers to marijuana, cocaine and the like that are widely acknowledged as initiators of criminal violence. This paper will examine the relationship between alcohol and other drug use to criminal behaviour. It will review the evidence that supports its association as well as the mechanisms or pathways that lead to criminal offenses. II. Studies on the relationship of alcohol and drugs to criminal offenses

Results of the studies linking alcohol and drug use to criminal behaviour leave no doubt that indeed the intake of alcohol and drugs may lead to committing criminal offenses. According to Swanson (1993), alcoholics are more prone to display violent behavior than those who do not drink (Day et al, 2003, 46). Moreover, police reports showed that many crimes were committed during and after taking alcohol or drugs. In the study of Pernanen et al in 2002, 38% of sample inmates in Canadian Federal prison admitted to committing serious crimes while under the influence of alcohol (Day et al, 2003, 46).

This data corresponds well with similar studies conducted in the US by Graham and West in 2001, as reflected on the US Bureau of Justice Statistics. Studies conducted by Collins and Messerschmidt in 1993 and many others strongly support the conclusion that criminal offenders (and sometimes victims) had drunk alcohol before committing rape, murder and other violence (Day et al, 2003, 46). A more detailed study of Zamble and Quinsey in 2001 revealed that those who habitually commit crimes consumed alcohol first before engaging in criminal acts. These habitual offenders are usually regular heavy drinkers (Day et al, 2003, 46).

The same statistical analysis can be concluded concerning drug-users wherein it is reported that drug-users are 16 times more likely to commit violence than those who stay away from drugs. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) Program reported in 1998 that 42. 5 – 78. 7 percent of the arrestees were identified to be positively using drugs. Moreover, they further revealed that males who were apprehended for drug possession or sales have the highest positive rate of being influenced by drugs. Among the juvenile offenders, Marijuana was the most predominately used (Walters, 2000, 1-2).

The effect or influence of alcohol and drug however, varies with specific individuals. There are rare individuals whose violent tendencies decrease (some just sleep right away) upon the intake of alcohol but in most individuals, the intake of alcohol increases aggressiveness and violence especially when accompanied with negative conditions (Day, 2003, 46). However, it must be noted not all individuals who gets drunk or who uses drugs commit a crime every time. In this regard, it can be stated then that the intake of alcohol or drug is not a prerequisite for committing a crime but may contribute to it.

In many reports, it is observed the most common alcohol-related crimes involved drink driving, rape, and assault (Day, 2003, 47). Drug users however, reported less offense in rape but more on homicide (Walters, 2000, 4). The most likely occurrence of alcohol-related crimes happens during binge drinking or heavy sessional drinking usually by the young adult age group. In a study conducted by Richardson and Budd in 2003 among 18-24 year old males and females, 39% of binge drinkers admitted to committing a less serious offense while 60% admitted to committing criminal offense during and after alcohol consumption.

The studies of Richardson and Budd revealed that a person who drinks at least once a week is five times more prone to be involve in fights or to commit a crime, and if the fight or violence occurred during or after drinking alcohol he is seven times more likely to break or damage a property (Richardson and Budd, 2003, 5). The most common occurrence of homicide in drug-related crimes, on the other hand, occurred during police or narcotic agent’s arrests and intervention of drug users or traffickers. Instead of surrendering, drug-users usually fight with the aid of high-powered weapons (Walters, 2000, 3-4). III. The cause and effect issue

Although the link of alcohol and other drug use to criminal behavior can be statistically proven, a detailed description of the pathways by which alcohol or drug may have led to that violence is largely undetermined and subject to debate(Day et al, 2003, 47, Newcombe 1996). Professionals had yet to find a conclusive answer as to the question whether substance use increase the risk of criminal acts or criminal acts increase the risk of substance use. Professionals had look into the possibility that the relationship of the two may be “reciprocal” that is, criminal acts lead to substance use and substance use lead to criminal acts.

A support of this argument is due primarily to the results of studies that show that as alcohol or drug intake becomes prevalent, so is the presence of violence. The other possibility is that the two exists not because of the other but primarily because they are both expressions of social deviance, and when they co-occurred, they are more likely to explode to social violence (Day et al, 2003, 48, NewCombe 1996). In spite of these theories, the accuracy of associating statistical reports to a cause-and- effect interpretation that alcohol and other drug use increases criminal acts is still doubtful (Day et al, 2003, 47).

Other considerations had been the varying effects of alcohol and drug use to individuals. However, it is useful to understand both the “moderating” and “mediating” factors that closely linked alcohol and other drug use to criminal acts. These two factors are considered influential antecedents of criminal behaviour; knowledge of the influence of moderating factors provides insight into operational mediating mechanisms (Day et al, 2003, 48) IV. Moderating Factors Moderating factors might be understood as the “setting conditions affecting the extent to which alcohol [or drugs] causes offending” (Day et al, 2003, 48).

In this concept, it is recognized that the moderating factors has direct influence on both the alcohol or drug consumption and criminal behavior (Day et al, 2003, 49, Walters,1996, 4). If it is assume that the consumption of alcohol or drug alone does not guarantee that a crime will occur, it is logical then to investigate what factors will encourage or facilitate the occurrence of violence upon alcohol and drug consumption. Various researchers (like Graham and West and Pernanen et al. ), identified two plausible answers: “situational/contextual and intrapersonal influences” (Day et al, 2003, 48).

Situational/contextual factors include: For alcohol-related crimes: 1. cultural expectations ( drunk men are expected to commit violence)(Day et al , 2003, 49) 2. the place where drinking took place ( there are more fights in pubs than in other private drinking sessions)( Richardson and Budd, 2003, 5), and 3. situations or places where apparent social control is absent (there are less violence and fights in a formal function than in disco bars or pubs) (Day et al, 2003, 49). For drug-related crimes: 1. competition among traffickers and users ( Walter, 2000, 4)

2. disputes relating to drug transactions (Walter, 2000, 4). 3. high tendency to commit offenses (like robbery or trafficking) to purchase drug or to earn more money (Walters, 2000, 4) The intrapersonal factors primarily refer to: For alcohol-related crimes: 1. Anti-social personality traits 2. “impaired” cognitive function 3. social expectations that alcohol leads to criminal violence 4. decreased serotonin concentration in the central nervous system (Day et. al, 2003, 49) For drug-related crime: 1.

Personality or psychological disorder (due to bad childhood experiences or inherited genes) 2. disturbed mental state (Newcombe, 1996) Dougherty et al. (1999) in their researches noted that individuals with aggressive disposition while sober become more aggressive and hostile when drunk. Moreover, in their findings people who are heavy drinkers and who drink habitually shows greater tendency to commit violence. This specific finding reveals that “intoxication” contributes more to violence than the frequency of drinking (Day et al. , 2003, 50).

In other words, even if a person drinks regularly but is not intoxicated, there is less expectation of violence but on the other hand even if a person drink only occasionally but he is heavily intoxicated he is more likely to commit violence. The same correlation can be made of people who take drugs (Newcombe, 1996). V. Mediating mechanisms Mediating factors refer to “the process or mechanism by which alcohol use might lead to offending”(Day et al, 2003, 47). In the same manner as the moderating factor, mediating mechanisms implies that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between alcohol use and criminal behavior.

When a person is under the influence of alcohol, Graham and West declared that this person: 1. cannot be relied upon to solve problems 2. more” risk’ prone due to underestimation of consequences through anxiolytic effects, 3. impaired cognitive functioning (inability to interpret correctly social actions), 4. more concern for the immediate situation than with the future 5. men becomes more power- driven ( Day et al, 2003, 49) The impairment of cognitive function had the greatest influence in misbehavior in intoxicated individuals.

According to a study by Knight in 2001, intoxicated people experiences cognitive impairment, that is, he has difficulty interpreting “complex stimuli”. This impairment results to misunderstanding of social actions in the part of the intoxicated person; hence, he displays aggressive behavior (Day et al, 2003, 50). Alcohol intoxication also causes ‘cognitive disorganization’, which can also lead to “overestimation” of the danger of the violence and “underestimation” of its consequences or effects. What concerns drunken people the most is to get even “here and now” ( Day et al.

, 2003, 50). Alcohol intoxication also influences cognitive control of behavior because of the expected behaviors connected to it. People are bombarded with the idea that drunken people are aggressive and more sexually driven. Studies shows that generally people equate these behaviors to drunken persons although studies suggest that it is not a necessity that they will have to act this way( Day et al, 2003, 50). In other words, some people may have used alcohol intoxication as a means to display aggressive sexual behaviors.

On the other hand, the most popular and medically proven effect of drug intake is mental disturbance. For example, when a person takes in Temazepam, it is known that he experiences “delusions”. He comes to believe that he is an invisible person so that he can commit criminal acts without being caught. When he is caught, he usually reacts in disbelief wondering how those people were able to see him (Newcombe, 1996). V. Conclusion There is no doubt that alcohol and drug use contributes to many criminal offenses of today’s society.

However, professionals cannot accurately say that the consumption of alcohol or the use of drugs directly leads to crime. Professionals had identified other situational/contextual and intrapersonal factors as contributory to criminal behavior. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the increase of alcohol consumption and drug use will most likely lead to an increase in criminal acts. References Day, Andrew, Kevin Howells, Karen Heseltine and Sharon Casey. (2003). Alcohol use and negative affect in the offence Cycle. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 13, pp.

45–58. Newcombe, Russell. (1996). “The theory and practice of drug-related crime”. Stitching Foundation for Drug Policy and Human Rights. Retrieved March 6, 2008 from http://www. drugtext. org/library/articles/ Richardson, Anna and Tracy Budd. (2003). Young adults, alcohol, crime and disorder. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 13, pp. 5–17. Walters, John P. (2000). Drug-Related Crime March 2000. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Retrieved March 6, 2008 from http://www. whitehousedrugpolicy. gov/publications/factsht/crime/