Drug Addiction and Crime:
How Does Poverty Contribute to the Two?
Poverty, crime, and addiction are social elements that create social problems. According to Reiman, “poverty is a source of crime” (27). Poverty in America is a major problem. In the United States, one out of every five children grows up in poverty (Reiman, 86). Many factors contribute to poverty. Some examples of these factors include: financial aspects of addiction, exclusion, images of crime, subcultures of violence, lack of available resources, rational choice, and parental monitoring. These same factors are also linked to being contributors to drug addiction and criminal activities. These aspects and many others distinguish the casual relationships between poverty, crime, and addiction.
Financial Aspects affect poverty immensely. Poverty, coupled with addiction often leads to a criminal lifestyle. In estimation, according to Lurigio, there are approximately 4.4 million chronic illegal drug users in America (495). This devastating amount of drug use contributes to high crime rates, especially among the poor. In the United States, there is an overwhelming amount of inmates in the criminal justice system with limited resources (Belenko and Peugh 53). “Unlike middle- or- upper-class users, whose salaries allow them to purchase drugs, these inmates come mostly from the lower socioeconomic strata of society” (54). Therefore, finances needed to support an individual’s addiction, result in drug crimes. “Illicit drug use and criminal activity often co-occur as part of a deviant lifestyle” (Lurigio 496). Individuals will often resort to selling drugs in order to support their own addiction. Studies indicate that in the month before they were incarcerated, 36 percent of drug users were unemployed (Belenko and Peugh 55). The availability of financial resources impacts the addict and how they choose to obtain more drugs for addiction. This impact can contribute to crime when the addict has limited finances to support his/her addiction.
Exclusion oftentimes creates employment limitations leading to poverty among excluded individuals. Social exclusion has been a contributing factor to poverty. Gilinskiy states “the more exclusion amongst individuals, the higher the crime rate increases” (286). Exclusion amongst individuals has been an ongoing problem and is progressively creating more of a gap between the rich and poor (Reiman 27). During the eighties, this gap worsened (27). Early urban research found a disproportionate amount of delinquency and crime amongst minority and lower-class groups (Akers and Seller 170). Disadvantages and limited opportunities, resulting from exclusion, are also influences related to problem drug use (Buchanan 391). Deviant behavior, such as crime, results from strain and creates opportunity for illegal activities (Surratt, Inciardi, Kurt, and Kiley 44). Exclusion creates inequalities, limited access to everyday opportunities, and frustration among the excluded oftentimes leading to deviance and or drug use.
Social exclusion and inequalities resulting in strain and social problems are prevalent in many areas. Concerning crime in Russia, the soviet ideology “saw crime as a social phenomenon influenced by factors such as inequality, intergroup conflicts, strain arising from blocked opportunities, living conditions, and so on” (Gilinskiy 259). According to Klag, O’Callaghan, and Creed crime rates rise and fall with drug use (1778). Lurigio also finds that the use of illegal drugs will intensify certain types of criminal activities (496). The combination of poverty, exclusion, strain, anomie, deviant behavior, and crime lead to complex social problems in society and creates further exclusion among social classes. Social and economic inequalities create strain and feelings of conflict, resentment, hatred, and envy amongst members of society (Gilinskiy 274). This response...
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