Substance Abuse and Crime

Substance abuse is “nearly automatically” linked with criminal acts. The statistical association between illegal drugs abuse and crime seems to be convincing when examined at the first glance; however, it is not possible to make a conclusion concerning a distinct cause-and-effect association between the two aspects. As noted by Brochu the idea that substance abuse results in crime does not put into consideration the effect of living conditions of a person, that can as well play an important role in criminal activities of an individual (30).Still, according to Greenield, there is a clear relationship between substance abuse and crime (11). Greenield, further notes that, alcohol and drug abuse is estimated to contribute in 80% of crimes resulting in jail terms in America (12), crimes like domestic violence, drug related offences, driving while drunk among many others. Thus this paper will examine the relationship between substance abuse and crime. Background One may ask the exact nature of the relationship between substance abuse and crime.As pointed out by Greenield, not all those people who use drugs or alcohol commit crime. More so, not all criminal abuse drugs or uses alcohol (12). Yet again, there is consistently high amount of substance abuse among those engaged in criminal activities. This relationship is a complex one and difficult to explain. Since the pharmacological impact of immediate as well as chronic exposure of substance abuse changes judgement and reduces self-control, those abusing drugs are more likely to end up committing crimes than those not using drugs.Similarly, some experts argue that criminal behaviours promote the use of substances. Yet again, other experts hold that there is a third aspect, for instance an individual’s genetic make-up or his environment that exposes the individual to substance abuse as well as criminal activities. Alcohol and crime The relationship between alcohol abuse and crime is clear. For instance in 1998, nearly 15,900 alcohol linked traffic offences occurred, among these offences, 39% of them were fatal motor vehicle accidents that involved alcohol abuses.According to data from Department of Transportation, about 1. 5 million drunk drivers are arrested every year. The Bureau of Justice conducts annual national surveys of samples of offenders serving jail terms for various crimes they have committed. In one of these surveys, 36% of offenders surveyed indicated that they committed their crimes under the influence of alcohol. This percentage accounts for nearly one million of convictions carried out yearly (U. S. Department of Transportation, National).However, there are some variations in substance abuse among state and federal offenders. When summarized by the type of crime, state offenders report that alcohol abuse contributed in 41% of violent crimes committed 34% in property offences, 43% in public-order crimes and 27 % in drug related crimes. Illegal drugs Criminal activities are mainly carried by other using illegal drugs, three models have been formulated to try and explain this aspect Theoretical models explaining the link between substance abuse and crime Psychopharmacological relationshipA lot of people link drug abuse with crime, at times even with violent crime. This association comes from psychopharmacological association that imply that people may engage in criminal acts after taking some kind of substance known to undermine their judgment as well as self-control resulting in paranoid thoughts and distortion of inhibitions. Though all substances that affect the central nervous system might result in this kind of relationships, scientific information indicates that some type of drugs have a more strong effect than others.Such drugs are alcohol, cocaine, phencyclidine and amphetamines. Inversely, cannabis and heroin are less associated with desire to commit crime. This model has been studied by various scientists. In a study carried out by Brochu, he established that “violent crimes were more frequently committed under an influence of some kind of substance influence; alcohol was the major influence (13). In another study, to examine drug-associated crimes, it was established that 50% of offenders had abused alcohol or by use of illegal drugs before the offenders were engaged in crimes.All these studies give important information about the influence of substance abuse in crime. However, as noted by Brochu, though the pharmacological aspects of most abused drugs are clear, understanding the specific aspects that encourage criminal activities seems to be extremely not clear (30). Economic-Compulsive relationship According to this model of economic-compulsive relationship, it is assumed that drug abusers commit criminal acts to finance their substance abuse.More so, this concept holds that drug-crime relationship comes about as a result of compelling as well as recurrent demand for drugs and the high cost of these drugs makes some abusers get involved in criminal acts so that they can get money to buy more drugs. This concept puts its focus on people who have developed a dependence on costly drugs. The model therefore presumes that huge sums of money are associated with often use of some particular illegal drugs that act as an incentive for engaging in criminal acts.This view that relates drugs and crime is highly supported by various literatures as well as the media. Many experts attribute many crimes to this aspect of economic-compulsive relationship. According to Trevor this concept is deeply rooted in the minds of the people, and it’s advanced by both police and the media (80). Some offenders as well promote this notion by acknowledging that they committed crimes due to the high cost of drugs. Indeed regular use of drugs like cocaine and heroin is costly, the money spend on these drugs by the addicts differs but they can spend over $40,000 per year.Such amounts therefore can result in criminal acts such as theft to raise money for drug use. However, criminal activities are not the only means substance abusers use to obtain money, they can as well reduce their other expenses or increase their income generating activities such as working extra hours to earn more. Systematic relationship Crime and violence is an element of illegal drug market. Crime exists mainly as a result not a having a legal way for illegal drug market to operate.According to this model, the relationship that exists between substance use and crime results from the profit opportunities that various players perceive to exist. The hostile competition that is present in the illegal market at the same time promotes engagement in criminal activities, for example disagreements between different drug dealers involved in protection of their drug dealing and other dealings. As pointed out By Trevor, where as legal business such as alcohol have ways of dealing with disagreements (80), the illegal drug market does not have such mechanisms thus resort to use of force.Crime in this situation is mainly caused by fierce rivalries between various gangs or individuals. Types of crimes related to substance abuse Various studies have indicated that the kind of crime which arises from the need of having money is results from high dependence of drug abusers on certain type of drugs. Generally, these types of crimes are non-violent and are carried out basically from the need to acquire money. Though at times addicts requiring more money may sometimes get involved in violent form of crimes, studies reveal that this form of crime is not common.Whereas these criminal acts might be intrinsically violent in nature for example, mugging or robbery with violence, this kind of violence may mainly occur as a by-product resulted from other aspect brought about during the crime, such as reaction of the victim of intervention by bystanders. Women who abuse substances seem to get involved in prostitution in cases. Conclusion This paper has examined the relationship between substance abuse and crime, the paper has examined the way alcohol is associated with crime.In addition the paper has discussed three different models that explain the way illegal drugs and other substances contribute to crime. These models are psychopharmacological association, economic-compulsive association and lastly the systematic association. From what has been discussed, it is clear that there is relationship between drug use and criminal activities, particularly among those drug users who have developed a high dependence on expensive drugs. However, not drug abusers are involved in criminal activities; it is worth noting that other factors play a role in criminal activities even among substance abuser.