Reviewing The Topic Of Abuse And Offending Criminology Essay

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In this assignment I will be conducting a 2,000 word essay on the topic area of substance abuse and offending. I will be explaining if there are any links between substance abuse and offending and I will be exploring the treatments available in prisons and communities. To write up my assignment I would be using a range of appropriate sources, theories from different Psychologists, Criminologists and examples to support my arguments and opinions.

Finding a link between substance use and offending has been researched by many researchers including Criminologists. According to the Australian institute of Criminology 2008, substance use is highly widespread among indigenous Australians and their substance use has been shown to begin at earlier ages than non Indigenous users (AIHW 1995; Forero et al. 1999; Gray et al. 1996).

In some urban and remote areas, the younger age of first time users of tobacco, cannabis and alcohol could be explained by young people following family connections and being introduced to these substances through their kin network and peers (Delahunty & Putt 2006).

According to the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) 61% of the respondents reported consuming alcohol in the 12 months preceding the survey, almost half (46%) considered their alcohol consumption to be low risk, 9.6 percent considered it risky and 5.6 percent reported consumption which fell into the high risk category (ABS 2004b).

Findings from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey indicated that Indigenous people were more likely than non-Indigenous people to have alcohol consumption characterised as risky or high risk (AIHW 2005). Data also indicated that illicit drug use is widespread among the Indigenous population and they were almost twice as likely (27%) as non-Indigenous respondents (15%) to report recent drug use. When questioned regarding illicit drug use excluding marijuana/cannabis, Indigenous people were almost one-and-a-half times (11.6%) more likely than non-Indigenous people (8.1%) to report recent use (AIHW 2005).

The link between substance abuse and offending has been a long interest in criminology and, although causality is yet to be proved, there is a correlation between the two. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that alcohol plays a major role in much of the offending by Indigenous people.

For example indigenous detainees that participated in the DUMA program reported that 17 percent of offences committed were drug related. At the time of detainment, 72 percent of Indigenous participants tested positive to cannabis (compared with 54% of non- Indigenous participants), 24 percent tested positive to benzodiazepines (22% of non- Indigenous detainees) and 29 percent tested positive to methyl amphetamines (26% of non-Indigenous detainees).

Overall, 79 percent of Indigenous detainees tested positive to any drug at the time of being detained by police, compared with 67 percent of non-Indigenous detainees (DUMA computer file 1999-2005).

In addition, the use of inhalants has been linked with an increased likelihood of committing burglary, assault or wilful damage offences (Brady 1992).

In other AIC research it was found that indigenous male prisoners were two and a half more times than non-Indigenous adult male prisoners to have used alcohol at the time of arrest or commission of the offence. (Putt, Payne & Milner 2005). It was reported 69% of Indigenous male prisoners had used alcohol compared with 27 percent of non-Indigenous male prisoners. Of those arrested, most Indigenous detainees were arrested for public order offences. Almost one-quarter (24%) of Indigenous detainees were arrested for offences which included trespass, conspiracy, disorderly conduct, betting and gambling, and liquor and tobacco offences among others.

So by looking at the Australian report figures it is acceptable to say that substance abuse does have a link to offending.

Moreover in 1999 the home office introduced a new national research program called the New Adam. The purpose of this program was to research drug use and offending in 16 covered areas in the UK to find any link between the two. This program involved interviews and drug testing those arrested by the police in England and Wales. This program collected its information by covering 8 areas in the first year and 8 in the second year and then repeating the first eight in the third year and so on.

It was reported in the first year of the program 1999-2000, 1.500 interviews were carried out across the eight locations in England and Wales and 95% of those offenders provided a urine sample for scientific testing.

From the 95% of urine samples taken, 65% of offenders tested positive for one or more illegal drugs and 30% tested positive for two or more such substances. 29% of offenders tested positive for opiates, including heroin and or cocaine including crack.

From the interviews taken forward 15% of offenders were known to be repeat offenders, regularly using heroin and or cocaine/crack. 40% of offenders who reported using illegal drugs in the last year of recognized a link between their drug use and offending. It was reported that users of heroin, crack, cocaine were nearly twice as likely (78%) to acknowledge a link.

The urine tests taken forward provide a scientific analysis to identify which of six illicit drug groups are present in an arrestee's urine and it helps to represent a good indicator of drugs used in the last few days. The six drug groups tested were for cannabis, opiates including heroin, cocaine including crack, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and methadone. The urine tests also covered alcohol but due to the body braking down alcohol more quickly, results would only record very recent alcohol use.

Overall from the results nearly two-thirds of arrestees tested positive for one of six illicit drugs, and just under one third tested positive for two or more such substances. Cannabis was found in the urine of nearly half of those tested. Equivalent figures for opiates (including heroin) and cocaine (including crack) were 24% and 15% respectively, with 29% testing positive for opiates (including heroin) and/or cocaine (including crack).

So back to the question is substance abuse linked to offending? Well from the interviews and urine tests taken forward, results showed that 53% of the offenders reported having committed in the past year, one or more acquisitive crimes such as fraud, burglary, theft, drug supply, shoplifting, handling stolen goods and prostitution related offences.

These crimes increased up to 62% by those who had used any drugs in the last 12 months, and there was a further increase up to 75% of those who had used heroin, cocaine or crack in the last year.

Those not reporting any drug use in the last year reported an average of 46 acquisitive crimes over the same period compared to 432 acquisitive crimes committed among heroin, cocaine, crack users. This was nearly ten times higher than for non-drug users. The New Adam program reported that higher levels of offending was associated with drug use, especially with the use of heroin and or cocaine/crack.

The evidence indicates that substance abuse does increase the chances of offending than non substance abuse users. Drugs are related to crime through the effects they have on the user's behaviour and by generating violence and other illegal activity in connection with drug trafficking.

Users are more likely to commit crimes thank non users as evidence shows, arrestees were frequently under the influence of a drug at the time they committed their offense, and that drugs generate violence.


However there are many treatments available to treat substance abuse in prisons and in communities. Prisons try to prevent inmates from reoffending through the provision of drug treatment programs.

It was in the 1890s when the United States aggressively waged a so called "war on drugs". It was estimated that 80% of state and federal inmates had committed drug offences and were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their crime, committed to support their drug use, or have histories of substance use. (national centre on addiction and substance abuse, 1998).

So to help prisoners with addictions prisons offer numerous drug treatments programs and counselling. The evidence of their effectiveness in reducing substance abuse or post release offending rates is mixed (farabee et al., 1999, p.151).

The federal bureau of prisons has led state departments in drug treatment. Specifically, it has offered individualized substance abuse treatment programs since the mid 1960s, following the passing of the Narcotic Rehabilitation Act (NARA). Before NARA the only treatment available was in "narcotics hospitals," where drug addicted prisoners were forced to undergo rapid drug withdrawal with little medical or psychological support.

According to a 1999 report to Congress, the current Federal Bureau of prisons strategy of drug treatment "addresses inmate drug abuse by attempting to identify, confront, and alter the attitudes, values, and thinking patterns that lead to criminal and drug using behaviour" (Federal Bureau of prisons , 1999b,p. 1)

Prisoners are helped by providing counselling to drug sellers, manufacturers and drug users. It was thought at each group requires different counselling and treatment (federal Bureau of prisons, 1999b, p, 2).

As a result the bureau offers three different forms of drug programs through psychology services, each of which attempts "to identify, confront and alter the attitudes, values and thinking patterns that led to criminal behaviour and drug or alcohol abuse" (Pelissier et al., 2000,p.5).

The drug treatment options include a 500 hour residential drug treatment program, a 40 hour drug education program and more loosely organized set of counselling and self help classes known collectively under the title of "non residential" drug treatment. The residential drug abuse program (RDAP) is the most intensive of the Bureau's drug treatment options. The inmate learns about drug use and general information like work and education. To complete the program the inmate takes a variety of classes, including "criminal lifestyle confrontation," "cognitive skills building," "relapse prevention," "interpersonal skill building," and "wellness," before being returned to the general prison population. Afterwards they must also participate in 12 months of treatment, meeting with "drug abuse program staff at least once a month for a group activity consisting of relapse prevention planning and a review of treatment techniques learned during the intensive phase of the residential drug abuse program" (Pelissier et al., 2000, p. 4).

Once an inmate is transferred to a community correction centre (CCC), he or she will meet with privacy contracted counsellors to reaffirm the lessons of the drug treatment program which could include family members.

Residential drug program's are the most successful part of the bureau's current drug policy. According to recent evaluations, these programs which last to 12 months, reduce men's reoffending after 3 years in the community by 16% and women's by 18%. Completing the RDAP course men are 15% less likely to use drugs on release, and women are 18% less likely to do so.

Communities also provide substance abuse users help by providing them with addiction treatment programs including residential treatment centres, outpatient treatment programs, and hospital inpatient programs for drug addiction and alcoholism. These treatment programs are available to adolescents and adults.

Communities provide a great deal of help to substance abuse users, from giving information, counselling, providing them with alternatives, helping them change they lifestyles, building they motivation to a positive approach and many more.

There are also youth centres and other organisations that help giving advice and support to individuals with substance use problems. Communities play a big part in helping people change they lives as ex-addicts would be there to them about they experiences and how they overcome they drug and alcohol problem which is very beneficial to users who want to change they lifestyles.

In conclusion from my research, evidence shows that substance abuse plays a big role in offending. People that are addicted to drugs and alcohol are twice as getting arrested than non users. As my research shows this substance abuse users that are released from prisons are more likely to commit a crime and return to prison or die quicker than a non user due to the life style and affect the substance gives.

There are many active treatments available in prisons and in the communities that have been a benefit to every one. Working on the treatment on substance abuse has shown positive results and many users have changed they lives around due to these treatment.