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Drug Addiction and Crime

Drug addiction and crime go hand in hand. It is an unfortunate fact that individuals who are addicted to drugs and alcohol will do just about anything to get more drugs and alcohol. Individuals will not only perpetrate crimes to get more drugs, some extremely violent in nature, but will also perpetrate crimes because they are using alcohol or drugs. Drugs and alcohol can affect individuals in many ways, as these substances can create changes in the mind which alter mood, disposition and reality. So while many individuals may take drugs or consume alcohol for the pleasant effects that these substances are known for, drugs and alcohol can also cause individuals to become extremely violent and destructive.

Much research has been done on the subject, as drugs and alcohol have been linked to violent crime and destructive behavior for some time now. Studies have shown that an estimated 73% of felonies are alcohol-related. One survey reported that alcohol was a factor in an estimated 67% of child-beating cases, 41% of forcible rape cases, 80% of wife-battering, 72% of stabbings, and 83% of homicides where either the attacker or the victim or both were drinking alcohol. In a survey of individuals who were imprisoned and convicted of robbery, weapons violations, burglary, or motor vehicle theft, over half admitted to having had been using drugs when the offense was committed. Based on reports of victims, 183,000 sexual assaults and rapes each year involve the use of alcohol by the offender. In contrast to other crimes, alcohol use is also involved in almost 1.7 million minor assaults, about 661,000 aggravated assaults, and over 197,000 robberies. Violent crimes and violence as a result of drug addiction also happen at places of work.

An estimated three million violent crimes take place every year whereby the person victimized by these crimes can perceive that the individual was using alcohol or drugs. In about 36 percent of these victimizations, the victim reported that the person commiting the crime was drinking alcohol. Out of victims of a violent crime from someone they were close to, two-thirds stated that alcohol was involved. Amongst victims of spousal abuse, 75 percent of incidents were perpetrated by the spouse who was drinking alcohol. In contrast, out of the victimizations where the perpetrator was a stranger, the victim could detect the presence of alcohol in 31 percent of these cases. Out of the violent crimes where alcohol use was perceived, 1 in 5 victims also stated they suspected that the offender was also using drugs.

One FBI study indicates that about 50 percent of alcohol-related incidents involved individuals who knew each other intimately. Victim perceptions puts this into perspective as well, with an annual estimate of 457,000 alcohol related violent offenses between people who have an intimate relationship together. Drinking offenders commit an estimated 1,360,000 incidents of violence committed against strangers, an estimated 744,100 violent crimes between known acquaintances, and approximately 118,000 acts of violence on family members (not including spouses) annually. A similar FBI study shows that about 70 percent of alcohol related violent incidents happen in a residence, beginning at around 11 p.m., with 2 out of every 10 incidents involving the use of a weapon. Only 1 out of 10 alcohol-involved

violent incidents occur in a bar or restaurant. Violent crimes as a result of alcohol use happen at places of work as well. Of workplace victims of violent crime, 35% report that the perpetrator of the violent act was using drugs or drinking alcohol during the incident.

An estimated 40 percent of convicted murderers, currently incarcerated in jail or in a state prison report that alcohol use was involved during the crime. Almost 50 percent of individuals convicted of assault-related charges and then sentenced to probation were drinking alcohol when their offense took place. In a survey of Federal and State Correctional Facilities it was found that 26 percent of federal prisoners and 32 percent of state prison inmates admitted that they had done their crime while high on a drug. The study of State prison inmates found that individuals who had been incarcerated for drug offenses (44 percent) and property offenses (39 percent) had the highest rates of using drugs during the crime. Amongst federal prisoners, violent offenders (24 percent) and drug offenders (32 percent) were had the highest likelyhood to have been using drugs during the incident for which they were arrested. More specifically, 17 percent of state prison inmates and 18 percent of federal inmates reported that they committed their crime for the purpose of obtaining money for illegal drugs. Additionally, approximately a quarter of convicted drug and property offenders in jail had committed their crime(s) to get money for the purpose of buying drugs.

Drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues also go hand in hand. Individuals who are incarcerated and also suffer from mental health issues have a higher rate of addiction to drugs than to alcohol. More specifically, a survey of inmates in prison who also suffer with mental disorders found that 51 percent abused or were addicted to alcohol and 62 percent abused or were addicted to drugs. Over one third of the state prisoners with mental health issues that were surveyed, reported that they had been using drugs prior to the incident.

It is unfortunate that many children lose their parents to addiction, as drugs and alcohol can cause an individual to lose sight of what it truly important and worth protecting. A survey of parents who were incarcerated in a state prison found that a third of these individuals admitted to committing their crime while being high on drugs. The drugs with high rates of use by these parents when the crimes were committed were marijuana (15 percent) and cocaine or crack cocaine (17 percent). Stimulates (5 percent) and Opiates (6 percent) were also a factor in a great deal of these crimes, while 2 percent of parents had used hallucinogens or depressants. One-third of mothers being held within state prison admitted to having committed their offense to get illegal drugs or the money to buy drugs, whereas the same was the case for 20 percent of fathers.

It is a fact that drugs and alcohol are commonly abused by college students, and can be found on every college campus in the nation. This also leads to violent crimes, many sexual in nature, against college students and committed by college students. Rates of arrest for liquor law violations are highest at public 4-year colleges. College students report nearly half a million violent victimizations annually in which alcohol use by the offender is a factor, 22% of which also involve offender drug use. An estimated 90 percent of these violent victimizations happen off campus. About 2 in 5 of all rape/sexual against a college student were committed by an offender who was perceived to be using drugs.

This is not just a problem among college youth, but youth in general. The likelihood of youth engaging in violent behavior increases with the number of drugs used in the past year. For example, a study found that 45.6% of youths who had used at least one illicit drug had also engaged in violent behavior. Youths aged 12 to 17 who had used any illicit drug in the past year were nearly twice as likely to engage in violent behavior then those who had not used drugs. Almost half of adolescents who had used marijuana in the past year had also engaged in past year violent behavior, as did 55.4 percent of those who used inhalants. Almost 70% of adolescents who used methamphetamine in the past year had also engaged in violent behavior within that time. The likelihood of youth having engaged in violent behavior increases with the number of drugs used in the past year, and over 60% of youths who had used three of more illicit drugs within that time had engaged in violent behavior. An estimated 26 percent of youths who were involved in a serious fight at school or work during the past year also admitted to past month use of alcohol. While an estimated 18 percent of youths who were involved in a serious fight at school or work during the past year also admitted to past month use of illicit drugs.

A great number of youth become involved in drug crimes, and a 2005 government study reported that over 800,000 adolescents ages 12–17 were involved in the sale of illicit narcotics during the twelve months preceding the survey. Another survey the same year conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 25.4% of students nationwide had been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug by someone on school property. The prevalence of having been offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property ranged from 15.5% to 38.8% in State surveys, and from 20.3% to 40.0% in local surveys. Even though over 7 billion dollars is spent every year towards the arrest and prosecution of almost 800,000 individuals in the U.S. for marijuana related offenses, the Monitoring the Future Survey reports that nearly 85 percent of high school seniors feel that marijuana is "easy to obtain", a statistic that has basically stayed the same since 1975, never falling below 82.7 percent in thirty years of national surveys.

The illegal drug trade is a multi-billion dollar global black market. Many individuals commit crimes everyday as a result of this very lucrative business and thousands of individuals are dedicated to the illegal cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of illegal narcotics. As of 2009, the Justice Department had identified over 200 U.S. cities in which Mexican drug cartels were maintaining drug distribution networks or supplying drugs to distributors, which was double the amount from three years earlier.

At the core of drug crimes is drug consumption. Based on global estimates of the number of drug users worldwide, it is estimated that there are anywhere from 16 to 38 million problem drug users in the world at any given time. With only approximately 12% to 30% of problem drug users receiving treatment in the past year for their drug or alcohol problem, this leaves between 11 and 33.5 million problem drug users untreated and liable to commit violent crimes and destructive acts.

The answer to this is effective drug and alcohol treatment. While many offenders find their way to treatment through the criminal justice system, individuals who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction to have to wait until their problem has reached such a crisis point. While each individual has their own varying needs, circumstances and problems that may hinder them from getting the help they need, effective solutions do exist and most can be fully rehabilitated. An effective drug rehab can help someone avoid all of the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use mentioned above, give them tools to maintain their sobriety and help them transition into a more productive and drug-free life.

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