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There is always been a debate about the relationship between drugs and crime. "Many of the scientific studies conducted over the past two decades provide evidence which tends to show that drug use is one of a number of factors that may explain why some people commit criminal acts" (Casavant & Collin, 2001). According to Spiess and Fallow:
It is a crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs classified as having a potential for abuse (such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, amphetamines, alcohol and many more). Drugs are also related to crime through the effects they have on the user's behavior and by generating violence and other illegal activity in connection with drugs trafficking.
This research paper will discuss some main causes and effects of using drugs, also look at the statistical data and theoretical model of drug use.
Drug addiction can be found in many forms. Drug addiction causes people to use drugs more and more. It also changes the passageways inside of the brain and causes physical damages to the nerve cells. There are also other factors that can lead to drug addiction. One of the factors is genetic. If parents in any family are addicted to drugs then the possibility for children to be addicted to drugs are more because it passes from one generation to next, also children look at their parents and can adapt their habit of using drugs. This is the reason that addiction problem can be found in certain families than the others. One other factor is personality that makes people to rely on drugs. Sometimes, curiosity makes people to try a drug, or if someone is diagnosed with depression, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, stress, anxiety or aggression, this can also lead to drug addiction. Children with low confidence and healthy self-esteem have a possible chance of using drugs to overcome their problems. (Wicker, 2010).
One other factor is peer pressure. Kids especially from high school are the most popular group who are more into drug problem because they think that if they will use drugs that will make them very cool and brave person in the eye of other kids and by taking drugs, they can be accepted as a part of the group. Most of the time, People who have a drug addiction problem try to sell drugs to kids because kids can be easily adaptive to drugs. Nowadays, it is very easy to get an access to drugs. Drugs can be found anywhere. For example, neighborhood, schools, shopping malls, offices, factories, etc. Drugs can also be used as a substitution to pain because it numbs the pain for a limited period of time and can give people a relax feeling physically and emotionally. Life is getting tougher day by day. It includes lots of struggle and too much depression especially past life experiences that are very hard to cope with. Most of the time people think that by taking drugs they can be able to forget all their past life experiences and can have a better sense of emotion coping with life problems. Over all, people who use drugs more often become dependent of drugs by the time. (Wicker, 2010).
The effects of drug addiction are huge. It not only changes the person's brain chemistry but also behavior over a period of time. It shows very harmful effects on person's health physically and mentally which can lead to criminal activity. Other effect of drug addiction is on family. People with an addiction problem usually involve in lots of different illegal activities that family members and society might not accept it and those activities create problem for the members of family to be accepted in a respectable society. So, family can either assure safety, provide support for their drug addict member that can help that person to stay away from drugs or they can involve in his activities and be a part of it. Drug addiction problem has a vast effect on the law too. Every day, news channels present different types of stories related to drug addiction crimes. For example, murder, car theft, property theft, burglary, selling illegal drugs, shooting, etc. (Wicker, 2010).
"The National Library of Medicine estimated 20% of all people in the United States have used prescription medication for non-medical purposes" (Wicker, 2010). The misuse of prescription and illegal drugs can change the person's behavior by which a person can be easily dragged toward more criminal activities. The major effect of drug addiction is on American economy. The National Institute on Drug Abuse spent almost $67 billion per year for drug addiction programs which includes the total cost of law enforcement, imprisonment, treatments, and other programs. The impact of drug addiction on crime rate is huge and is increasing day by day. (Wicker, 2010).
In 1994, Office of National Drug Control Policy examined that in the United States drug use and criminal activities are somehow correlated to each other, and continuous use of drugs and sale not only destroying the members of society but it is also giving rise to more violent criminal activities. In 2000, a survey was sponsored by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) was conducted on the 8, 10, and 12 graders of high schools and they reported that 54% of senior graders use drugs once in their lives. (Carpino, 2000). According to Carpino:
In examining the State and Federal prison inmates who reported being under the influence of drugs at the time of their offense, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (1997) reports the following. 24.5% of Federal and 29% of State prison inmates reported being under the influence of drugs when committing violent offenses. 10.8% of Federal and 36.6% of State inmates reported being under the drugs while committing property offenses. 25% of Federal and 41.9% of inmates reported being under the influence of drugs when committing drug offenses. 24.4% of Federal and 22.4% of State prison inmates reported being under the influence of drugs when committing weapon offenses.
In 2009, there were 13,687,241 total arrests in the United States. In which, drug arrests was 1,663,582, total marijuana arrests, 858,408, total marijuana sale arrests was 99,815, total marijuana possession arrests was 758,593, total violent crime arrests was 581,765 and total property arrests was 1,728,285. (Borden, 2008).
There are three theoretical models proposed by Goldstein that helps in determining drug related crime in the United States, and they also describes the relationship between drugs and crime. The first model he proposed was psychopharmacological model which suggests that people usually involve in criminal activity when they are intoxicated by drugs. Drugs has an impact on nervous system by which people lose their self-control, their ability of thinking right or wrong which lead them to commit crimes. Every drug has its impact on nervous system but some drugs have strong impact, and associated with violent types of crime. Those drugs are PCP (phencyclidine), cocaine, methamphetamines, barbiturates, and alcohol. In 1998, 218 homicides were committed in New York, and 14% of all killings were associated with psychopharmacological factor which means drugs were involved in all those crimes. (Casavant & Collin, 2001).
The second model that Goldstein proposed was economic-compulsive model which proposes that people usually involve in criminal activity in order to get money to buy drugs. People who cannot live without drugs often commit crimes to get money because drugs these days are very expensive and not everyone can afford them. The crimes that are related to economic compulsive model are theft, prostitution, fraud, drug trafficking etc. The third model proposed by Goldstein was systemic model. This model suggests that criminal activity among drug dealers rise from drug market. According to systemic model, the main reason of violence between drug dealers, merchant, or different types of organizations is the power to control over territories, neighborhood, streets, and school. In this model, crime is as organizational management strategy. In 1980s, 74% of homicides in New York were related to systemic model. (Casavant & Collin, 2001).
In United States, crime rate is increasing day by day. Government is spending millions of dollars to control over drugs and its related crime by increasing police man power, establishing organizations that are teaching the side effects of taking drugs and what type of crime a person can commit. Drug addiction causes and its effects are very obvious. The three theoretical models presented by Goldstein supports that there is a connection between drugs and crime. Statistics from different government organizations also supports the crime rate due to drugs. Not all the crimes are related to drugs but by looking at all these facts conclusion can be made that there is a link between drugs and crime.