The existence of an association between drug use and involvement in crime is widely accepted. Many studies have repeatedly established a close relationship . Abstract—The focus of this article is criminal drug users and their changing of the relationship between crime, violence and substance abuse is explored. There is a close relationship between drug abuse and crime. Drug abusers commit crimes to pay for their drugs and this inflicts damages to the.
But what is the nature of this relationship? Does drug use cause or lead to crime? Or does crime lead to drug use?
Could it be that those who use drugs and those who are inclined to be criminals just happen to share many characteristics in common? Properly answering these questions has important public policy implications. There is a general belief that the drug-crime link is causal.
More importantly, it is assumed that drug use causes crime. The criminological evidence to support this belief is not as strong as some might imagine. In fact, the best available research has generally concluded that the relationship is extremely complex and defies attempts to sort out directionality. The common view, widely reflected in policy approaches here and overseas, is that at the very least drug use makes criminal involvement worse. Therefore action to reduce drug involvement either through law enforcement or treatment will probably reduce offending although it might not reduce the overall number of offenders.
Consequently one single model cannot account for the drug-crime relationship. Rather there are multiple paths that lead to drug use and crime. Research suggests that drug use and crime involvement have common origins. Heroin Like marijuana, heroin generally has the effect of lowering the desire to use violence. In some cases, however, it appears that disturbed or impulsive behaviours may occur during a period of withdrawal. Cocaine abuse can cause paranoia, although that reaction appears to be infrequent among cocaine users as a whole.
Some report that cocaine use can also cause irritability and anxiety in users, especially at the end of a period of intoxication. Like cocaine, it stimulates the central nervous system. Empirical studies are particularly incomplete for this drug; however, PCP is second to alcohol as the drug most often associated with violence. It can therefore cause strange and violent behaviour. Amphetamines The main property of amphetamines is that, like cocaine, they stimulate the central nervous system.
Amphetamine abuse can thus cause paranoia, irritability, anxiety and even toxic psychosis. Legal and Illegal Drugs in Canada, Toronto: Key Porter Books, However, evidence supporting this model is limited. The few empirical elements are drawn from research which presents numerous methodological problems and does not really help to understand the specific effects of certain drugs. The following paragraphs present research findings which show that many criminal acts, some of them violent, are committed in Canada each year under the influence of a drug.
There was a rather clear distinction between acquisitory crimes and violent crimes in the prevalence of use of drugs and alcohol. While homicides and, more pronouncedly, assaults and wounding were predominantly alcohol-related, crimes such as thefts and break and enter showed a higher prevalence of drug use on the day of the crime. The study, which dealt specifically with illegal drug use and crime, produced the following main findings: In other words, nothing in these findings clearly demonstrates that the criminal act would not have been committed if the individual had not been under the influence of drugs.
Moreover, the findings based on the link that the offender sees between his or her drug use and his or her crimes should be significantly clarified. In the view of various researchers,  some inmates prefer to associate their criminal behaviour with their drug use. This enables them to attribute responsibility for their actions to an outside cause, i. Although for many inmates this association is indisputable, research has shown that some individuals use it as an excuse for their behaviour and to unburden themselves of part of the weight of the offence.
According to the survey results, three-quarters of respondents admitted that drinking could serve as a pretext for using violence. This deficiency forces a recognition of the fact that the reasons for violence and criminal activity go beyond the properties of the drugs themselves.
Although many studies indicate that some people used illegal drugs the day they committed their crime, there is little empirical evidence in the scientific literature to establish a direct link between crime, violence and the psychopharmacological effects of drugs.
Does drug use cause crime? : understanding the drugs-crime link
Substance abuse and criminal activity Before moving on to crime and violence caused by the illegal drug market, this section examines another aspect that may explain the link between drug use and crime, i. More specifically, according to this explanatory model of the drug-crime relationship, the compelling and recurrent need for drugs and their high price lead some users to commit crimes to obtain the money they need to buy drugs.
This model focuses on individuals who have developed a dependence on expensive drugs and assumes that the large amounts of money associated with frequent use of certain illegal drugs constitute an incentive for criminal action. This explanation of the relationship between drugs and crime is well supported in the literature and the media. Many people attribute a great percentage of crime to this economic-compulsive link. The offenders themselves promote this association by swearing to anyone who will listen that the single cause of their involvement in crime is their heavy [drug] use.
For many, this statement is indisputable. For others, some doubt persists because, in some instances, there is a clear benefit to be gained in accepting the label of addict: Some Canadian and foreign studies have shown that the rate of use of illegal drugs is much higher among people who have been in contact with the criminal justice system than among the general population.
According to one study conducted by Forget in more than one-third of the individuals interviewed at the Montreal Detention Centre said that they had committed their crimes for the purpose of buying drugs.
Similarly, the study by Brochu et al. That was the case for inmates who had committed the following crimes: The study also appears to confirm a strong link between the use of expensive drugs and the commission of criminal acts. As discussed above, some offenders consciously or not use this strategy to justify their behaviour and reject responsibility for their actions.
Regular use of illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine is expensive.
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The amount spent by addicts on drugs varies from report to report. However, researchers agree that drug addicts have three main sources of income: Heroin addicts in Amsterdam derive most of their income from social security. They also reported four times the mean number of offence types committed in the last 12 months, eight times more than the mean illegal income, and almost twice as many arrests.
To afford a better grasp of these subtle points, researchers have proposed a typology consisting of three categories of users: With regard to occasional users, the research tends to show that most will never use illegal drugs regularly.
Illegal Drug Use and Crime: A Complex Relationship
In the vast majority of cases, moreover, they will never adopt a deviant lifestyle and will generally choose legal ways of financing their illegal drug use. In most cases, crime will be a means of last resort. This explanation of the relationship between drugs and crime seems particularly appropriate for young people.
For dependent users, dependency will very often have the effect of increasing their involvement in crime. However, it must be understood that this involvement will to a large extent be determined by their circumstances, the drug they use, their lifestyle, their attraction to certain types of activities, and their economic and social resources.
The most important source of income is social security. Furthermore, crime is not the only means by which dependent users pay for drugs.