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Alcohol Crime and Drugs - Substance-related Arrests, Presence Of Drugs At The Time Of Arrest, Juvenile Drug Use

illegal offenses criminal money

The connection between criminal activity and the use of drugs and alcohol has long been an issue in American society. Even before federal laws were passed in 1914 to control narcotics and other drugs, observers claimed that drug use and criminal activity were strongly linked. Drugs and alcohol are thought to encourage criminal behavior in several ways. Their use can reduce inhibitions, stimulate aggression, and interfere with critical thinking and motor skills (such as driving or operating machinery). Each of these factors may also reduce a person's ability to earn a legal income, which may lead the drug user to commit crimes in order to obtain money. For those using addictive drugs, the need to get money to support a drug habit may take priority over any other consideration.

TABLE 8.1
How are drugs and crime related?

Drugs and crime relationship Definition Examples
Drug-defined offenses Violations of laws prohibiting or regulating the possession, use, distribution, or manufacture of illegal drugs. Drug possession or use. Marijuana cultivation. Methamphetamine production. Cocaine, heroin, or marijuana sales.
Drug-related offenses Offenses in which a drug's pharmacologic effects contribute; offenses motivated by the user's need for money to support continued use; and offenses connected with drug distribution itself. Violent behavior resulting from drug effects. Stealing to get money to buy drugs. Violence against rival drug dealers.
Interactional circumstances Drug use and crime are common aspects of a deviant lifestyle. The likelihood and frequency of involvement in illegal activity is increased because drug users and offenders are exposed to situations that encourage crime. A life orientation with an emphasis on short-term goals supported by illegal activities. Opportunities to offend resulting from contacts with offenders and illegal markets. Criminal skills learned from other offenders.
SOURCE "How Are Drugs and Crime Related?" in Drugs, Crime and the Justice System, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, DC, 1992

Illegal drug users may also find themselves more frequently exposed to situations that encourage crime.

For the poor and underprivileged, drug and alcohol abuse can become an additional negative social condition within their environment. The same circumstances leading a person to commit crimes may also lead to drug use. In addition, the same conditions limiting employment opportunity may also contribute to both drug abuse and criminal behavior. Table 8.1 shows the relationship between drugs and crime.

Crime—an Overview - Crime, Factors In The Rate Of Crime, Crime On The Decline, Increases Predicted, Decreases Noted In 2003 [next] [back] Characteristics of Inmates - Race, Ethnicity, Age, And Gender, Types Of Crimes, Education Of Prison And Jail Inmates

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