Drugs, Alcohol and Crime
Drugs, Alcohol and Crime
Recent studies have regularly shown the consistent relationship between alcohol, drug use and criminal behavior. The most worrying trend has been the increasing number of drug users over the years a factor that has made analysts predict of more drug-related crimes in future if the issue is not addressed. These drugs have been classified based on the ABC system to distinguish them as recreational drugs. The ABC system classifies illicit substances into simple broad categories. The effects of drug use are numerous and varied based on the substance used. Significantly, drug use has deeply entrenched social and health issues. Goode explores that criminal behavior and drugs have an intimate relationship further suggesting that the two concepts are connected in a particular way. According to a British crime survey conducted between 2010 and 2011 about 35 percent of people between the ages of 16 and 59 admitted having used at least one illicit substances in their lifetime. The relationship between alcohol, drug use and crime has been reviewed in this paper, citing a few literature sources. Further, theories that tend to explore the relationship between drug abuse and criminal behavior have been highlighted.
A sophisticated yet strong association arises from the attempt to link drugs and criminal behavior. Goldstein explored the connection between the two based on three categories; psychopharmacological, economic compulsion and systemic. It is through these that numerous scholars have based their research in an attempt to explore the issue of drug use and how it is related to crime (Goldstein).The psychopharmacological concept attempts to explain how the physical properties of various recreational drugs affect the human mind and become a possible influence towards violent crime. Be it long term or short term, drug use possibly precipitates physical changes that predictably cause offending behavior among the users. For instance, one of the major influences of drugs to the brain is that they reduce reaction time. Alcohol use is particularly relevant in this context. Pernanen has heavily based his arguments on this notion further claiming that drinkers often experience a loss of inhibitory signals hence increasing a likelihood of conflict (Pernanen 44).
The inhibitory signals in the brain are normally due to certain neurotransmitters such as GABA. When an individual takes alcohol, it suppresses the transmission of the inhibitory signals leaving a predominance of the excitatory signals such as glutamate. Ultimately, an individual would most likely display actions that they would not in their sober states. Moreover, it is thought that alcohol can worsen the psychological symptoms for people that are already mentally challenged. Such people often hallucinate and become violent against imaginary threats. Alcohol and the brain, especially for mentally ill persons, often interact in a complex way. There are numerous people among the population that harbor borderline personalities with little knowledge of it. When such individuals take alcohol, their personality changes since the alcohol trigger certain areas of their minds causing them to be more aggressive and hence more likely to commit the crime.
Interestingly, Coid holds the notion that a few alcoholics come to display a personality disorder that tends to make them violent and aggressive (Coid). The psychopharmacological theory of drug use and crime has continued to gain ground among analysts due to various papers that have highlighted the evidence for this concept. Arguably, the effects of drug withdrawal have been linked to criminal behavior under the psychopharmacological theory.
The compulsive economic theory explored by Goldstein highlight that crime is often committed in a bid to finance drug use and their possible effects. Makkai has principally linked this concept to property crime. Arguably, violent crime such as burglary has also been implicated in his notion when suspects intend to commit a crime against property (Makkai). Most drug users often suffer from effects of addiction giving them a strong urge to stop at no cost in satisfying their craving. Many studies immersed into the issue of crime and drugs have pointed towards the concept of drug craving and its influence towards crime. Drug use alters judgment especially during psychotic episodes associated with craving; this causes individuals to commit crimes they would not attempt in their right states of the mind. (Best et al) Also compiled a report that showed the positive link between shoplifting and drug use. Their report was possibly categorized drug crimes based on the motive with figures indicating that 48 percent of shoplifters did so to finance their drug addiction habits. However, critics trash this report by arguing that it is the burglary that was most associated with drugs when compared to other forms of crime in a bid to finance drug addiction behavior.
Nonetheless, economic explanations are not limited to the committing of crime to finance drug addiction. Criminals have often used drugs as an income generator in recent times. Alcohol and possibly drug abuse causes a problem of unemployment either directly or indirectly. Subsequently, drug addicts that are ‘enslaved’ to the effects of drug addiction are left with no option but to steal to raise money to purchase the drugs. Arguably, despite the fact that numerous scholars have posted journals on the positive link between the economic motive and how it causes crime, a lot remains to be explained. There has been a missing connection between the two that concisely draws the vital link. However, this model has proved significant in attempting to examine why crime rates shoot high as addiction takes roots among drug users.
The systemic theory as advanced by Goldstein has tried to explore subtly the reason as to why drugs and crime afford the very mention. Deviant people in the society are often more inclined towards interacting with situations that promote the use of illicit substances and drugs. Deviance in itself is a complex concept in the social context that has been investigated for many decades. This class of outliers in the society often engage in practices that are not in tandem to the social customs of the society. Chief among the practices promoted by such people is the use of illicit substances and alcohol. Drug-related crime and negative interaction often go in tandem in creating an environment that cultures criminal behavior.
Engagements in drug markets are often those that promote criminal behavior leading to the possibility of advancing criminal behavior and drug trade. Crime gangs have often been the order of the day in areas known to harbor drug trading. It is a common occurrence to see lifeless bodies lying in the streets known for drug trading due to the violent manner in which drug traffickers and their accomplices conduct their business. The punishment for a breach of contract in drug trading is often death or maiming. This has been cultured for many centuries to the extent that it has become the code of conducting drug business. Similarly, the drug trade has often thrived in areas that are known for hardcore crime. Besides these areas being out of reach of police authority, areas run by criminal gangs are known to float a lot of cash that is available for the drug business.
A more subtle association between drugs and violence is the thinking that people that engage in alcohol and drug use are considered more vulnerable to crime. For instance, a large number of alcohol addicts have become victims of rape due to the vulnerability created by it. At high doses, alcohol and most drugs cause excitation, however, with intoxication, depressive effects take root making individuals somnolent and more vulnerable to crime.
Predictably, the more illicit a drug is, the more likely that it will be associated with very violent crime. (Reiss & Roth) Further explore systemic crime in the perspective that drugs possibly fuel organizational crime. Further, third party and transactional crime have been examined in their work. However, outside the United States, there has been a lack of adequate evidence that has sought to link drugs to organizational crime. Moreover, the literature outside the United States is majorly journalistic rather that academic or empirical. Lack of scholarly evidence has cast much doubt on the validity of this theory in explaining the connection between drug use and criminal activities and how these correlated entities precipitate the two. Goldstein, however, has sought to explain this concept and its complex association by attempting to establish the missing link in trying to unravel this fact.
Recent studies have narrowed their focus on the possibility of crime causing drug use. According to this concept, criminal culture possibly creates a reference scenario in which participants are more likely to engage in binge drinking and abuse of illicit substances. Deviant individuals are more likely to self-medicate or use illegal drugs to draw motivation to commit a crime. Moreover, White and Gorman argue that criminal activity potentially creates an extra income for criminals who get tempted to involve in drug abuse.
Interestingly, a few analysts have argued that drugs have been used in many instances by criminals as recreational drugs in a bid to celebrate the success of their activities. Subsequently, drugs crime can be used as motivation to obtain the recreation since criminal activities are perceived to provide the resources for financing drug addiction (White and Gorman). Criminal gangs often acquire much wealth in the range of billions. With vast amounts of cash at their disposal, such gangs easily finance drug use among their members. Especially, such criminals are often interested in using some of the hardcore drugs such as heroin and cocaine. This establishes a vicious cycle since abuse of drugs such as cocaine, in turn, fuel criminal activity by altering the mindset of users. Scientists have consistently highlighted that drugs users are predictably more inclined towards committing crimes compared to those that do not use such substances.
Illicit drug use and crime can be classified as being mutually interactive in the sense that each entity can precede the other. However, their causal relationship is interrupted by numerous other variables that closely interact to influence the relationship between drug abuse and criminal behavior. However adequate data is lacking in a bid to explore clearly the causal link between the two concepts. For instance, no adequate data highlights that drug use leads to crime. Further doubt has been cast because most drug users do not participate in criminal activities save for a few. Critics have considered such groups as being outliers claiming that there is a lack of consistent data that directly links the crime to the use of illicit substances.
In conclusion, although many scholars claim that crime nexus and drugs seem intimate, further research is needed to get to the bottom of this issue in a bid to unravel more evidence and further details of the possible association between the two entities. However, there is ever a missing link in attempting to establish a few facts on this link making the evidence flawed to a large extent. A new methodology of disaggregation needs to be implemented in this area which may come just handy in consolidating the evidence available in this field of study. Alcohol and drugs continue to influence and increase in prevalence regarding the number of users. Besides the commonly studied subjects of drug abuse and how they precipitate crime, a few other variables have proved to stand out in the debate about drug use and its associated criminal links. Both social, genetic and environmental factors have been postulated to play a role in shaping drug preference and the potential of users to commit a crime. Despite the fact that it seems a simple concept, peer pressure has been explored by analysts as being a complex entity that serves to shape individual preferences and perceptions.
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