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Drug Use and Crime Rate

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Drug Use and Crime Rate

Destiny Hughes

Eastern Florida State College

Author Note

Destiny Hughes, Student of Criminal Justice, Eastern Florida State College.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Destiny Hughes, Student of Criminal Justice, Eastern Florida State College, 250 Community College Parkway
Palm Bay, FL 32909-2299.



In the U.S, crime is related to illegal drugs in numerous ways. Most straightforwardly, it is illegal to utilize, manufacture, possess or distribute drugs such as marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. Drugs are likewise related to crime rates as drug production, distribution, and trafficking operations are regularly controlled by drug cartels, gangs, and organized crime. The connection between crime and drug use is not new; for over a quarter century, the National Institute of Justice and the National Institute on Drug Abuse have conducted many studies to attempt to comprehend the association entirely. A study carried out on heroin addicts in Baltimore discovered high rates of criminal activity among drug users amid times of active drug use, and lower rates during periods of nonuse (Alexander & McCaslin, 1974). Countless drug abusers come into contact with the justice system when they are sent to prison or other correctional facilities. The correctional system is overflowed with drug addicts. Drug addictions make individuals do things that they ordinarily would not do, such as theft, rape, and murder. Drug use is related to crime rates through the impacts it has on the user’s conduct and by generating violence and other unlawful activities connected to trafficking.

Drug Use and Crime Rate

Criminal acts are often opportunities; unlawful exercises that individuals engage in when they see them to be profitable. People commit a crime when it guarantees reward with minimum danger of punishment or pain. Criminal offenders are individuals that are inclined to carrying out violations. This does not imply that criminals have no choice; it just means that their restraint level or self-control is lower than normal (Pokhrel, Sussman, & Rohrbach, 2007). When individuals have limited self-control, they have a tendency to be more shortsighted and impulsive. People such as these individuals do not tend to perpetuate wrongdoings, they simply do not take a glance at the long- term outcomes, and they have a tendency to be reckless. Drug use is the most common factor that causes these behaviors (Baron, 2003). The impacts of drug use are massive. It alters the individual's mind chemistry as well as conduct after some time. It demonstrates harmful consequences on an individual's health both physically and mentally which can prompt criminal behavior. Drug use turns into a fixation, and after that, the person will carry out small crimes to get the drugs or cash for the drugs. In 2004, the Bureau of Justice reported that 18% of federal inmates and 17% of state prisoners committed the crime they were serving time for to acquire cash to purchase drugs (Bureau of Justice Statistics). Goldstein proposed the economic-compulsive model which suggests that individuals more often than not get involved in illegal activities to get cash to purchase drugs (Goldstein, 1985). Drug abusers who cannot live without drugs regularly carry out violations to get cash since they are extremely costly and not everybody can manage the cost of them. The crimes that are identified with this model are robbery, prostitution, extortion, drug trafficking and so forth. The individual not only embraces crimes like possession but also acts of violence resulting from dealings with other drug addicts and dealers. Goldstein proposed the systemic model to explain this behavior. The systematic model recommends that criminal activities by drug users arise from the drug market. It proposes that the primary reason for violence between drug addicts, dealers, or distinctive sorts of drug organizations is the ability to control over domains, neighborhood, roads, and schools. In this model, areas of heavy drug use always have high crime rates.

Studies show that drug users are more probable than nonusers to carry out violations, arrestees are often under the influence as they commit crimes, and that drug use generates violence. In looking at the State and Federal prison inmate statistics from the Bureau of Justice, in 2004, 26% of federal prisoners and 32% of state prisoners admitted to having committed the crime that got them imprisoned while under the influence (Bureau of Justice Statistics). “Marijuana and cocaine or crack were the most common drugs convicted inmates said they had used at the time of the offense” (Bureau of Justice Statistics). Goldstein also proposed the psychopharmacological model which suggests that individuals, for the most part, involve themselves in illegal activities when they are under the influence (Goldstein, 1985). Drugs affect the nervous system causing people to lose their restraint and their capacity to deduce right or wrong which leads them to carry out wrongdoings. Each drug has a different effect on the nervous system; however, some have a stronger effect and are thus more associated with violent crimes. These include cocaine, alcohol, barbiturates, methamphetamines, and PCP. There was a total of 218 murders in New York 1998, and 14% of all killings were related to the psychopharmacological model which implies drugs were part of each one of those killings (Bureau of Justice Statistics). About 36% of State prisoners and 10.8% of Federal prisoners were under the influence as they committed property offenses. There were more than thirteen million arrests in the United States in 2009, and drug arrests were over 10% of this. Hard drug users were much more often involved in law offenses than were nonusers as the number of crimes committed by drug addicts was altogether higher than that for nonusers. Another study shows that even drug users involved in criminal exercises before the onset of substance abuse carried out more wrongdoing after they began using drugs than before they started using (Golub, 2005). Drug users who had no criminal records before they started using committed a similar number of offenses after the onset of use as those with past criminal records.



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