Substance Abuse and Crime

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Name: Cederic Redus
Topic: Substance Abuse and Crime
Instructor: Scott Breseman
Course: Introduction to Criminal Justice
Date: 22th January, 2011

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 relationship
A 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...
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