Analysing the Relationship between Substance abuse and Criminal Behaviour

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Substance abuse in adolescents is a serious problem that can lead to deviant acts that create problems in adulthood. Mental problems that develop from substance abuse and drug issues may be one of the factors that affect human behaviour in society. Substance abuse and criminal behaviour in adolescents, and later in adulthood, is affected by the environment setting in which they were raised. Parental influence is the main factor that causes teenagers to use drugs and alcohol, ultimately, causing many other problems associated with it. Factors such as negative issues with family and friends is a disadvantage for teenagers because they do not have the support that they need and so, they often turn to friends who negatively influence them, causing them to start using drugs and drinking excessively in order to help them cope with their personal issues. Problems increase if they are not able to deal with their drug and alcohol problems. There is direct research that links substance abuse and associative problems with negative family issues, the effects of substance abuse and childhood and adolescent problems that may be due to environmental factors.

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Psychological problems that are associated with substance abuse that could lead to criminal behaviour are part of a series of effects that can arise from drugs and alcohol use. (Bartol 1999) discussed how teens can become so addicted to these substances, that they need them to make themselves feel satisfied with themselves, "...the person's life is permeated with thoughts of procuring and using the drug, and he or she may resort to crime to obtain it" (362). The dangerous drugs, such as, heroin can lead to both the youth and adult populations to behave differently. Research has shown that drugs that a youth takes has a direct effect on what kinds of deviant acts they will be more likely to be involved with, "…the level of juvenile crime closely parallel to the drug use" (Blumstein et al.,1986, 55). The severity of the effect of drug and alcohol taken has an impact on the seriousness of the criminal act performed. A connection of certain drugs can effect the type of behaviour because of the after effect of the drug, "Highest crime rates were found for youths who reported the use of cocaine…separating the youths into offender groups based on the seriousness and number of crimes committed showed that even within these relatively homogenous groups, youths who used pills or cocaine had the highest crime rates" (55). This evidence shows that the drugs that adolescents are using has a serious impact on their behaviour . This is due to the negative impression that drugs can make on a person who is not conscious of what they are doing. Also adolescents who are addicted to drugs are more likely to start committing crimes but, this addiction could also affect them later on in a mental capacity, causing them to commit other crimes because they have been able to convince themselves that it is acceptable, through faulty mental processes. Pills, Marijuana, and Cocaine were, in fact, shown as the most dangerous drugs because they showed the highest number of associations related to number of crimes, "Youth who used marijuana had overall rates of crime that were three times higher...youths who used pills but not cocaine, in turn had higher crime rates than the users of marijuana or alcohol, particularly for index offenses or drug sales" (55). The effects of these crimes may be the consequence of not having anyone positive to guide these troubled teens through tough times, leaving them unable to cope with their emotions because they are not able to talk to anyone about them. In the absence of positive role models, they are influenced by negative people who tell them that the path of drug and alcohol use is the one that will help them the most. The effects of cocaine allow for a changed state of mind, "It has acquired notoriety as the cash drug for crime syndicates, the drug for temporary personal pleasure and unimaginable individual psychological craving" (Gullotta &Blau, 1994, p.7). This shows that "pleasure" can be a factor that makes a person's behaviour unpredictable.

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The effects of how substance abuse can mentally affect adolescents to behave in a certain way might be related to their childhood experiences. The personality that has been shaped in the child has an impact on what they may be like when they grow older. Less adaptable personalities may be the consequence of not having crucial support from friends and parents. Gullota & Blau (1994) research showed that children's negative emotions are associated with the likelihood of using drugs and alcohol, "Continuing behavior problem most usually hyperactive, aggressive, and seemingly rebellious activity that reflects poor impulse control; an inability to delay gratification; sensation seeking…" (16). The problem with behaviour in children is that learning lack of self control is a problem because they do not properly learn what is wrong and right. All the anger that they are not able to channel appropriately leads to negative behaviour in the teen years which is a critical period in their development. During this time, they make important decisions that affect the rest of their lives namely, who they choose to be friends with. The negative result of this decision predicts the negative outcome of being on the street, involved with the wrong people, leading to getting into drug and alcohol trouble, "Choosing to associate with drug-using peers and having attitude favorable to use are additional risk factors for any adolescent" (16). Allowing these people into their lives can affect their problems.

Another factor could be the problem of self esteem of being friends who are using drugs, they are not being able to find any friends, so they think that it is that they are part of a group, they feel that they are part of something to make them feel better, "...adolescent may have been prone to frequent antisocial behaviour prior to association with delinquent friends." (Bartol, 1999, p.32). The feeling of being alone can cause an individual to make wrong decisions, "Finally, alienation from, nonacceptance of, or outright rejection of the dominant values of the society have been shown to be associated with greater risk of alcohol and other drug-use problems" (16). All deviant behaviours that are not easily fixed will be likely to effect future consequences such as problems within their home environments and any crimes that they may commit may intensify in terms of severity. Other factors come into play with the consequence of substance abuse; teens are ultimately harming their own lives, "...in the student study, the rates of reported health problems, parasuicides(suicide attempts) and law violations increase with progressive involvement with licit and more especially illicit drug use..." (Kokkevi&Stefanis,1990,p.116). This shows that there are other factors that are involved and that the victims go beyond the individual and effect the society.

Environmental factors and family influence are also big issues that lead to deviant acts because of the family problems that are constantly occurring, incorporating negative stimulus into the child's mind, early on. The most important factor is parental guidance and support. When this is lacking, children do not feel that they are wanted, "Membership in a family where there is little warmth, support or positive bonding, and there is parental, nondirectiveness and permissiveness and not adequate supervision" (Turner, 1994, p.51). It also has to do with the level of self confidence that they have, but if they have the support they need, they are provided with healthy attitudes. "...children who are attached to their parents and involved in family activities, whatever they may be are less likely to initiate substance abuse and less likely to associate with drug users. If parents are involved in their adolescents' lives in ways such as influencing peer choice and prosocial activities" (46). During the teenage years, it is important that reassurance and encouragement is being shown by parents and friends so that they are able to discover themselves, which builds character. Those who are excessive drinkers and drug users show that they do not have a goal and they simply turn to what makes them feel good on a short term basis.

When parents show their child hatred, it leads to emotion problems within the relationship. It has been shown that when children are exposed to family problems, drugs and alcohol use by the parents it causes a negative environment. They may also be exposed to drugs and alcohol biologically which effects their growth once they are born, "Prenatal drug exposure is a complex phenomenon that must be understood within an ecological context, including the uterine, familial, social, and economic environments in which the fetus, infant, and child develop" (Harden, 1998, p.20). With all the factors that the child has to live with while growing up, there is a big probability that they will lack in decision making skills, because the parents are setting bad examples when they use drugs and alcohol as part of their lifestyle, this also effects the parents behaviour toward the children, "Having a parent or sibling who abuses alcohol or other drugs. As social learning theory, predicts, adolescents growing up in families where drug use is the behaviour that is modeled will have a tendency to adopt that behavior" (Turner,1994,p.41). Also, when the parent is not taking responsibility to teach the child, the consequence is seen in negative behaviour, "...any kind of parental nondirectiveness and permissiveness are risk factors for adolescent drug misuse" (41). Parents who are not able to give their children boundaries have a disadvantage because they are unable to teach their children what is right and wrong.

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Being mistreated at a younger age is also a precursor to the problems that can develop over time. Violence in the household is a definite factor because children can easily absorb information by watching what others are doing and also by being a victim a parental abuse. All these things can directly lead to problems with substance abuse, "... physical abuse in child hood was significantly related to current illicit drug use in adulthood"(Huang et al.,2010, p.95-96). This is the consequence of an unhappy childhood life. It has been shown that parents who use drugs turn their anger on to their children and the outcome is seen in negative child behaviour, "...cases involving cocaine using parent was reported due to child neglect. In this same study, sexual maltreatment of children by one of the parents...." (Harden, 1998, p. 35). This would probably be the same when they reach adulthood and the likelihood of abusing innocent victims and even their own family remains high.

Childhood and adolescent psychological problems have been shown with the development of their personality and with the people they were involved with. As they get older, situations get more complicated because they play a more dominant role in society. It is easier for them to get into other kinds of trouble. Serious crimes will be likely to happen, "...violent predators, i.e. persons reported committing robbery, assault and drug dealing and who had very high crime rates, had extensive histories of drug use" (Blumstein et al., 1986, p.56). This links back to the drug use in the teen years when they start to become criminals. The crime history increases as substance abuse increases. There has also been research done with alcohol, demonstrating that the crimes are just as serious with alcohol as they are with drugs, "...alcohol and homicide are intimately and intricately related phenomena... The fact is that most homicide offenders have been drinking or are intoxicated when they kill..." (Forrest&Gordon,1990, p.15). There is also research that shows that drugs, such as heroin, have been associated with crime in adults, "...study indicate that for each offender group high-cost heroin users had the highest crime rate" (Blumstein et al., 1986, p.57). This is another type of drug that they are exposed to. (Forrest&Gordon,1990) have found that crimes associated with drugs have also been found in those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, "... alcohol involvement on the part of the victim is associated with increasing seriousness of injury in assaults, robberies, and rapes" (12). This shows that when people who do not get the help that they need, their problems escalate to the point when their deviant acts get worse while they are still incorporating drugs and alcohol into their lifestyle.

The effect of drug and alcohol usage has a different effect that leads to explain why adolescents and adults act with uncontrollable behaviour. Criminals who are under the effect of alcohol experience a disruption in the person's thinking, "Very often, self confidence increases and the person becomes more daring, sometimes foolishly so" (Bartol,1999, p.375). This goes back to (Forrest&Gordon,1990) research and how alcohol is related to crimes. Since alcohol gives teens self esteem and makes them unafraid of being subjected to situations that provide harsh consequence. This leads to acts of criminal behaviour that was associated with alcohol, assaults, robberies, and rapes. The level of drinking also effect the individual act of how severe it consequences will be. "Violence frequently occurs in social situations where drinking is heavy, physiological arousal is high (such as anger), interpersonal conflict is evident, and cognitive processes-especially judgement and abstract reasoning- are impaired" (Bartol,1999, p.377). This shows that the emotions and their state of mind is effected by the drinking. The emotion that is incorporated with the drinking is shown that it is correlated with each other, " Research in the psychology laboratory also finds strong evidence that drinking alcohol facilitates physical aggression" (377). Alcohol not only associates with crime but it also interferes with personal life such as family problems.

Drugs that create mental problems can lead to criminal behaviour. There is research findings in drugs such as cocaine and heroin which is related to crime that affects the individual's criminal acts. Cocaine can lead to serious mental problems and other affects that also come along with, "... a syndrome with many of the psychotic features of the paranoid schizophrenia." This mental problem can alter person's state of mind, which can lead to issues but the correlation between the drug and the crime is not strong, because there is not enough research to support it, " no study has shown that stimulants or cocaine facilitate either property crime of violent crime" (Bartol,1999, p.370). This does not mean that the research that been discussed with the association of cocaine and criminal behaviour does not exist; there may be other reasons that they were involved in the crime, excluding rape or murder. Even though there was not enough research found that cocaine is not as strongly related to crime, the effects of it should be a red flag indicating that it could be a factor that it is related to crime behaviour, " There is generally an elevation of mood, mild euphoria, increased sociability and a belief that one can do just about anything" (370). This relates to how alcohol can raise a person's self esteem and they are able to do anything when they are not fully aware of what they are doing.

Heroin was used to demonstrate the fact that people who take more intense drugs will commit the most crimes. It is known as a narcotic drug and it has been shown that it highly effects crime, "The word narcotics usually provokes intense negative reactions and very often is quickly associated with crime" (Bartol,1999, p.371). This links back to the research that (Blumstein et. al, 1986) found how people who used heroin had high crime rates. The effects of heroin has some effects that signal severeness of the criminal act, "... it is assumed that the heroin user is bizarre, unpredictable, and therefore dangerous" (Bartol,1999, p.373). The actions that they are not aware of is a big concerns for how adolescents do things to harm themselves from taking heroin, "Research have been shown that the effect of heroin is also that even though the person's can become deviant, the level of drug taken can make the person not as dangerous, " However, high doses of narcotics produce sleep rather than the psychotic or paranoid panic states sometimes produced by high doses of amphetamines. Therefore, narcotics users rarely become violent or dangerous" (373). We should not exclude that the fact that even though some drugs say that they will makes a person drowsy. There are many factors of symptoms that lead to crime, even though there is research that stated people take drugs are not usually dangerous, " Research strongly indicates that addicts do not, as a general rule, participate in violent crimes such as assault, rape or homicide" (373). Just like alcohol, the negative emotions that (Bartol, 1990) discussed and excessive drinking which leads to criminal acts, which can also be the same with drugs, whether they are going through depression or peer pressure, can be a factor that causes crime to happen. It may not ne just the drug alone.

Substance abuse and criminal behaviour is a serious issue because it can harm victims, loved ones and ourselves. If treatment is not available to treat the youth population, it can lead to the next generation of criminals which can increase crime rates. As we can see, the effects of drugs and alcohol does lead to criminal behaviour and the personal aspect of it also tell us that people who are not stable with emotional problems who are not being able to do deal with issues, may place that anger and use violence to deal with their temperament issues. Children who have been witnesses to violence or who have been directly a part of it give way to a predictive factor that they will become deviant individuals because they are negatively influenced by people such as parents and friends because they look up to them as a guides. Even though it is not possible to keep drugs and alcohol out of people's reach, it is important that adolescents learn the consequences of their addictions.