The Drug Effect: Health, Crime and Society

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The Costs of Drug Use to Society

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Drug use problems and mental health: comorbidity explained

The University of Queensland. According to self-reports from a survey with a sample of 14, State and 6, Federal prison inmates, 24 percent of Federal inmates and 49 percent of State inmates reported that they were under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs at the time of their current offense U. Department of Justice e. In State prisons, 32 percent of inmates reported they were under the influence of alcohol, and 31 percent reported they were under the influence of drugs including 14 percent who were under the influence of both when they committed their current offense.

Information obtained from arrestees provides additional evidence of the empirical association between drug use and crime. The Drug Use Forecasting DUF program operated by the National Institute of Justice conducts interviews and urinalyses in inner-city lockups of sampled male arrestees in 23 cities and selected female arrestees in 20 cities.

Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to generalize DUF data because it is concentrated on inner-city arrestees. Still, DUF data from indicate that across the cities, the percentage of arrestees who tested positive for illicit drug use any one of the following: opiates, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, LSD, or PCP at the time of arrest ranged from 54 percent to 81 percent for male arrestees and from 42 percent to 83 percent for female arrestees U.

Department of Justice d. Despite, or perhaps because of, the strong association between drugs and alcohol and crime, social scientists, in an effort to develop better crime prevention strategies, have labored to develop and test theories that explain why and how this relationship exists. A useful beginning can be found in the basic observation that there are different types of crime. For example, violent crime is different from acquisitive or income-generating crime. Also, within violent crime, there are systemic factors involved that relate to the violent nature of the illegal drug trade or to the illegal alcohol trade during Prohibition.

A simplified framework for relating different types of crime to different effects of drugs has been proposed by Goldstein The Goldstein system proposes a system of three models - psychopharmacological, economic, and systemic - which are hypothesized to represent the possible primary causal relationships between drugs and violence these models can be generally extended to all types of crime.


In his tripartite framework, Goldstein acknowledges that many factors probably combine to influence behavior. Moreover, as addressed in discussions of causality through this document, it is also very possible that underlying factors may contribute to a person both using alcohol and drugs and exhibiting criminal behaviors without there necessarily being a causal link between the two behaviors.

Goldstein proposes that the psychopharmacological, economic, and systemic models can interact with all of the other factors, while still retaining their ability to explain criminal behaviors in relation to alcohol and drug use. Psychopharmacological model. The psychopharmacological model suggests that "some individuals, as a result of short or long term ingestion of specific substances, may become excitable, irrational, and may exhibit violent behavior" Goldstein The model hypothesizes that drugs may contribute to both violent behaviors and to the likelihood of a person becoming a victim of such behavior.

This hypothesis also holds out the potential for some psychoactive substances to reduce violent behavior. Economic model. The economic compulsive model suggests that "some drug users engage in economically oriented violent crime e. Systemic model. The systemic model suggests that "violence is intrinsic to involvement with any illicit drug.

According to this model, involvement in drug distribution could increase the likelihood of perpetrating or being victimized by violence. This system does not so much propose new models or explanations for how abuse of alcohol and drugs might be related to types of crime as it recognizes or identifies groups or classes of theories.