Sandra Lynn Manela
CRJ308: Psychology of Criminal Behavior
January 21, 2012
The Relationship between Drugs and Crime
There are two major factors facing the Criminal Justice system: crime and drugs. Crime has many faces and comes in all forms from petty theft to serial murders. Possession of illegal drugs is also against the law. If drugs are against the law to have in possession, it is also called a crime. Crimes do not have to involve drugs; however, the first thing that happens when a crime is committed, whether a murder, a wreck, or theft, is a thorough search for drugs to determine if drugs and the crime have a relationship. That is because there is so much crime centered on drugs. Although they are synonymous, it does not take one to have the other.
Just because someone uses drugs, it does not mean that the individual will commit any other crime besides the one of possession. There are casual drug users just as there are casual alcohol drinkers. Drug use does not create a criminal offender; however, it may intensify such actions (The Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Crime in Idaho, 2010). One may smoke marijuana and never commit harsher crimes and never have a brush with the law. The main drug that young people will start with is marijuana. Marijuana possession is against the law, and because of the effects of marijuana on the brain of adolescents, which is still an ongoing study, the likelihood that they may use other drugs as they get older is a real possibility (NIDA, 2011). It could be called a “gateway” drug. It opens the door for these adolescents to meet others that are using harsher drugs.
There are three ways that drugs can lead to criminal activity: (1) by affecting the user’s mental state, (2) the need for the addict to support their habit by committing a crime for money, and (3) the sale of illegal drugs (Drugs and Crime, 2011). The first two scenarios mentioned above are users of drugs, where the third does not necessarily have to be a user, but illegal none-the-less because he is a distributor. Just as using drugs starts at young ages, selling can also start there as well. One thing leads to another. The scenario could go like this: Junior goes to a party. There are kids there that are smoking marijuana and they ask Junior if he would like to try one. More than likely, he will say, “yeah, sure,” to save face, but if he in fact says, “no thank you”, he will be taunted and teased until he feels that he has to, again, to save face. Now he has tried it and it does not seem to be that bad, so has decided that this is o.k. Time goes on and he has started having to pay for it (the trial part is over). He is using more, and it is costing more, so one of his so-called friends suggests that he can sell it for him and make a nice profit, even after buying enough for his personal supply. He thinks that this is not such a bad idea, so he is stepping into a larger realm of criminality. But, it does not stop there. He has been introduced to more potent drugs: heroin, cocaine, and even pills. His problem has increased because he is now hooked, or addicted on the more expensive stuff that he now has to sell in order to keep himself in supply, and of course, to make more money. This is the sad scenario for a lot of young adolescents. Their life has been overtaken by an inanimate thing, and it follows them into adulthood.
The connection between drugs and crime has been well established. The basic relationship between drug use and crime is simple. It is illegal to possess, manufacture or distribute drugs with the potential for abuse such as marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamine or to misuse prescription drug medication. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol (The Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Crime in Idaho, 2010). This stands as the basic connection between drugs...