DRUG ABUSE AND CRIME Drug Abuse and Crime Charlene Bright University of Phoenix Abstract This report focuses on the overwhelming problems related to the abuse of drugs in America. Problems include drug addiction; vandalism and destructive behavior; rape and other sexual offenses; gang-related violence; drug trafficking; vehicular accidents and injuries and other violent and property crimes. This report will discuss the correlation between drug abuse and crime and the challenges crime has on our society how drug use is affecting our youth.
The primary sources of information for this report are the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics and the author’s empirical perspectives. This report also uses data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. Drug Abuse and Crime Over 14 million people, age 12 and over, currently use illicit drugs, and the availability of illicit drugs remains high. Coombs and Ziedonis) Despite the high social and personal costs associated with mood altering drugs, drug abuse remains firmly ingrained in the United States of America, which appears to becoming a chemically dependent society. In America, with current problems of poverty, racism, domestic violence, hopelessness, and despair, alcohol and drug abuse is a part of an enduring cycle of economic and psychological turmoil. A drug is a chemical agent that affects the function of living things. Encyclopedia Britannica 2008) There are many types of drugs: prescription drugs; over-the-counter drugs (OTC); illegal chemical substances and social drugs (alcohol). Medical professionals prescribe drugs to treat or prevent an illness and to relieve pain and discomfort. Prescription drugs and OTC drugs should be taken as directed and used for their intended purposes to be successful in improving the health and wellbeing. For this paper the definition for illegal chemical substances are street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, crack, marijuana, date rape drugs (Rohypnol and GHB) and alcohol.
Although acceptable in society, alcohol (according to the 12-step program of Narcotics Anonymous) is a drug. Drug use is no longer restricted to the at-risk inner-city neighborhoods, people with low economic status, or members of a particular minority group. Neighborhoods that are poverty-stricken have a higher incidence of drug induced crimes and violence. During the current economic crisis, jobs are evaporating, people are losing their homes, and the gap between the rich and poor is rapidly increasing. Many neighborhoods suffer from the “broken window theory. (Kelling & Wilson, March 1982) The broken window theory suggests that neighborhoods that show signs of deterioration become vulnerable for criminal activity. A broken window in a building or home, that if left unattended signals that no one, cares. It will soon become an “abandominium” for activities such as drug users, squatters, and prostitutes. The neighborhood will display a negative portrait to the residents and outsiders looking in. When the neighborhood takes on the I-don’t-care-attitude, it slowly becomes a crime-ridden environment.
Illegal and legal drug abuse contributes to the violent and property crimes in these neighborhoods. Drug Abuse (or substance abuse) is the uninterrupted use of mood altering chemical substances, typically illegal chemical substances that results in the impairment of the mental, physical, behavior, and social destruction of the user, the loved ones of the user and society. Drug abuse includes many legally prescribed drugs not taken as prescribed. Patients taking medication for pain relief or discomfort are vulnerable to becoming drug abusers and addicted.
The prescribed medicines are usually Schedule II drugs (substances with a high potential for abuse) such as Percodan, Demoral and Codeine. After long periods of use, the body becomes dependent on the chemical and consequently craves for it. According to the American Psychiatric Association, drug abuse involves using illegal chemical substances as well as legal mood altering drugs that lead to ill effects and undesirable consequences such as jails, institutions, or death. Drug users are in the workforce and mainstream America.
The media has reported that countless celebrities, politicians, athletes, prominent business executives, and professionals have been involved with drugs. The use of steroids among our professional athletics was reported frequently during this past year in the media. Michael Phelps, our recent Olympic gold medal winner, was caught smoking marijuana at a party that occurred after the Olympics. President Obama and former President Clinton both admitted to smoking marijuana during their college days.
Gary Dourdan (CSI) appeared on a successful TV series for seven years and the producers of the show terminated his contract due to his repeated drug use. Abuse of legal drugs (alcohol, tobacco, and prescription and over-the-counter drugs) is a leading factor in the cause of disease and death and remains socially acceptable as levels of addiction and abuse continue to rise. According to the 2007 National Vital Statistics Report, data collected reported 30,711 drug related deaths, and 21,081 alcohol related deaths.
A recent national study revealed that 39% of Americans admitted to using illegal drugs, 51% currently drinks alcohol and 29% smoke cigarettes. Among our youth between the ages of 12 and 17, over 11% reported using illegal drugs within 30 days, with marijuana as the common drug of choice. (2007 National Survey on Drug Use 2008) Over the past, couple of years, celebrities such as Gerald Levert and Heath Ledger both died due to overdosing on prescribed and OTC medications. Combining certain prescribed medicines and over-the-counter drugs are just as dangerous.
The drug interaction in their cases did cause their deaths. Patients should inform their physician or pharmacist of all the drugs they are currently taking because some drugs have different reactions when taken in conjunction with other drugs. Alcohol is the drug of choice in America and the drug most associated with violent behaviors. Alcohol when consumed excessively changes the mood, alters perception, and impairs judgment. Alcohol is a sedative and one of its effects is sleepiness, which is why people should not drink and drive.
Alcohol consumed socially to relax the nerves, or to wind down after a hectic day, or interact with friends or colleagues are frequently done at business meetings, social networking events after work or in the privacy of our homes. Some professional organizations have limited the alcohol to beer and wine at company’s event to reduce the over-indulgence of the hard liquor. Bars are notorious for offering “happy hour” or drink specials to increase patronage and revenues. At the end of the night, the probability hat a patron would become involved in a traffic fatality due to impaired driving conditions attributed to the alcohol consumption at the bar is very likely. While alcohol-related fatalities have decreased in recent years, of the more than 16,000 deaths in 2005, 12,800 involved crashes where the driver had a blood alcohol level (BAC level) of . 08 or above. There were nearly two deaths every hour in alcohol-related traffic crashes in the United States in 2005. Alcohol is a key factor in 68% of manslaughters, 45% of murders/attempted murders, 48% of robberies, and 44% of burglaries.
Seventy-two percent of rape victims or assailants were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the offense. (Center for Substance Abuse Prevention) During certain holidays renowned for excessive drinking such as Mardi gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and New Year’s Eve, organizations offer free rides to patrons at bars to reduce the risk of traffic fatalities. The Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that in 2006, 5. % of the 14,990 homicides were narcotics related (Murders that occurred specifically during a narcotics felony, such as drug trafficking or manufacturing, are considered drug related). (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2006) According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), in 2005, there were 5. 2 million violent victimizations of residents age 12 or older and 27% of the victims reported that the offender was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drug abuse and drug addiction are different.
Drug abuse is a voluntary action and drug addiction is a compulsion- the lost of free will to make a decision to use or not use drugs. People take drugs for two reasons – to feel good and to feel better. Illegal drugs taken to feel better are generally stimulants. Stimulants such as cocaine, crack, caffeine and amphetamines can cause euphoria, alertness, intensity, decrease in appetite, energetic, and a sense of false confidence. Millions of people wake up every morning to a cup of coffee to give them a jolt to start the day.
Caffeine, although a legal substance, is just as addicting as cocaine without the dangerous effects. Medical professionals such as residents and interns find it necessary to take some form of stimulant to help keep them awake for the long hours of rotation. Danger is imminent in this behavior because it affects the quality of care for the patient. Today’s youth face many risks, including drug abuse, violence, and HIV/AIDS. Risk factors can influence drug abuse in numerous ways. The more risks a youth encounters, the more likely they will abuse drugs.
Some risk factors may be more powerful than others such as peer pressure; association with drug using peers. Dysfunctional home environments, ineffective parenting, or alienation from parents, poor social skills, negative peer influence all contribute to the growing use of drugs among the young people. Drugs help dissipate the feeling of loneliness, stimulate pleasure or reduce pain. Youth turn to drugs for acceptance from their peer role models-go along to get along and to make them feel better about themselves -giving them a sense of confidence.
Whatever the reason, drug use among our youth continues to grow. Club drugs such as GHB and Rohypnol have been emerging in recent years. Club drugs (aka date-rape drugs) are a favorite among our youth partly because of its popularity at “raves” and dance clubs. Rape is a serious crime often followed by the use of these club drugs. Non-consensual sex while under the influence of drugs is devastating to the victim. Would-be rapists often slip date rape drugs into the rape victim’s drink reducing the risk of capture since the victim usually experience amnesia.
Raped victims wake up the next day knowing a rape occurred but without the memory of the incident. There are numerous correlations between drug abuse and crime. Violence associated with drugs has turned many neighborhoods, especially the poverty-stricken areas into war zones. Gang-related activities are at the core of many of the violent crime sprees. While gang –motivated murders declined in the early 1990s, gang-affiliated homicides rose. This increase was due to the involvement of gang members – not gangs in the drug trade.
The connection between violence and illegal drugs is typically associated with the distribution and sale of drugs, drug trafficking disagreements or staying ahead of other rival drug dealers. A recent movie on cable, New Jack City, illustrated how drug dealers in an inner-city neighborhood, took over an entire apartment complex, disrupted and destroyed the lives of the tenants, manufactured and sold drugs in the community with no fear of retribution. This type of behavior is prevalent in drug-infested areas.
The business acumen of today’s drug dealers coupled with today’s technology has made it difficult for law enforcement to apprehend and bring charges that will ensure a very lengthy stay in the correctional facility. Chronic use of certain drugs produces violent behavior by lowering inhibitions or elevating aggressive tendencies. Violence associated with alcohol is usually committed prior to the criminal event when either the offender the victim or both have consumed alcohol. Alcohol has the tendency to escalate a situation into a violent confrontation because alcohol increases the aggressive behavior in humans.
Rapes, fights, and assaults leading to manslaughter or homicide are linked to alcohol because one or several members involved were drinking. Drug addiction is a treatable disorder with different treatment methods. The goal of a treatment plan is to enable a person to achieve total abstinence from all mood-altering substances. Admitting powerlessness over the disease of addiction is the first step to recovery, according to the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous. Several types of treatment are available for drug addiction.
Most common is the detoxification center, which is short term for 14 days and usually in a hospital setting. Long-term treatment facilities such as Avery Road in Rockville, MD house patients for 28 days. The treatment plan includes consultation with behavioral specialist, social worker, case manager, and a certified addictions counselor. Upon completion of the program, the resident can move into a transition home or seek independent housing. Transitional homes are group homes for recovery addicts. Residents live in a structured environment with people who are trying to maintain abstinence.
They report to programs for urinalysis and case management and attend recovery meetings. The recovery process works for those who want to recover. Jails and institutions have been instrumental in addicts maintaining abstinence. In most jails today, recovery meetings are available on certain days enabling inmates to seek recovery from their drug addition. Often, inmates released from prison continue their road to recovery and their path to becoming productive members of society. For the drug addict who refuses to cease abusing drugs – DEATH.
The drug scene marked by considerable changes will evolve. Going back to the era of psychedelics drugs in the 1960s; marijuana in the 1970s; and the crack epidemic in the 1980s and the resurgence of marijuana, heroin and psychedelics in the 1990s; certainly drug history will continue to transform. The Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) program of the National Institute of Justice confirms that between one-half and two-thirds of people arrested for major crimes in the United States – including homicide, theft, and assault were using illegal drugs at the time of their arrest.
The federal, state, and local governments will continue their commitment to combat the war on drugs alongside the law enforcement agencies that are committed to reducing crime. Resources: Robert H. Coombs and Douglas Ziedonis, eds. , Handbook on Drug Abuse Prevention (Boston,: Allyn and Bacon, 1995), xiii Encyclopedia Britannica Online Dictionary (2008) Retrieved June 6, 2009 from http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/171942/drug Kelling, G. L. , & Wilson, J. Q. (March 1982). Broken windows. The Atlantic.
Retrieved May 22, 2009, from http://www. theatlantic. com/doc/198203/broken-windows/2. SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006 and 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2009 from http://www. oas. samhsa. gov/NSDUH/2k7NSDUH/tabs/Sect1peTabs1to46. htm#Tab1. 1B Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), Making the Link. “Violence and Crime and Alcohol and other Drugs,” 1991. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004, NCJ 213530, October 2006.
Retrieved June 4, 2009 from http://www. ojp. usdoj. gov/bjs/dcf/duc. htm Federal Bureau of Investigation (2002). Uniform Crime Report. Washington, D. C. : U. S. Department of Justice. Retrieved June 6, 2009 from http://www. fbi. gov/ucr/08aprelim/table_1. html US Department of Transportation, Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (2007). The Nation’s Top Strategies to Stop Impaired Driving (2005). Retrieved June 8, 2009 from http://www. nhtsa. dot. gov/people/injury/alcohol/StrategiesStopID/StrategytoSID. pdf