Drugs and Crime Rate in the US relationship

In the twentieth century, the prevalence of opioid addiction in the United States increased exponentially. Many stakeholders became worried that the narcotics were adversely impacting different facets of the growth of American societies. Crime is one aspect of social life that has gained a lot of attention in regards to substance addiction. Drugs and violence have a nuanced history, with changes in one triggering similar changes in the other. According to this article, there is an appositive association between substance addiction and violence. There are several reasons that may contribute to an uptick in crime rates. Therefore, there is a need that the relationship between each factor and crime be determined for intervention purposes. it is important that the relationship between crime and drug abuse is understood. This paper will discuss the various types of crimes related to drug and substance abuse. The discussion will then concentrate on how drug abuse is related to violent crimes and non-violent crimes. In the US, domestic violence and child abuse are some of the crimes that have been determined as strongly related to drug abuse. The essay will determine how drug abuse predisposes individuals to becoming both perpetrators and victims of such crimes.

Types of Crimes Associated with Drugs

Use-related Crimes

These are criminal actions that directly involve the end users of drugs. These substances are change the behaviour or the thought process of those who consume them. These changes may be drastic and result in criminal activities. Drug abuse has been associated with both-violent and non-violent crimes. Violent crimes mainly take place due to drug-induced aggressiveness while non-violent crimes are mainly associated with impaired rationality. Use-related crimes are those that take place when the person is under the influence of the drug.

Violent crimes

Before the 20th century, most of the drugs abused in the US were natural extracts such as marijuana, tobacco and khat. This began to change with the introduction of synthetic drugs such as cathinone, methamphetamine and ephedrine. The synthetic drugs were much cheaper than the plant-based ones. Due to this affordability, they penetrated markets in poor neighbourhoods and a large number of young people became addicts. Violent crimes rose rapidly as more individuals gained access to these drugs. Lundholm (2013) conducted a study on 194 remand prisoners who had been arrested fort violence. The results showed that 183 of them had abused at least one drug within one day before the arrest. Drugs are meant to change the way a person feels. Most people use drugs in order to feel better. However, a large variety of drugs often result in aggression. Anabolic steroids, cocaine, alcohol and benzodiazepines are some of the most common drugs associated with escalation of aggression. Unfortunately, some of these drugs such as alcohol are legal and authorities can do little to prevent their abuse. It is upon the individual to control their intake. Many people are unable to control the amount of alcohol that they consume. They this become drunk and aggressive. The individual loses the ability to control their reactions and harm themselves or those around them.

Non-violent crimes

The society has given much attention to violent crimes. However, it is important to note that drug abuse is also related to non-violent crimes. Generally, drugs impair the ability of an individual to make rational, well-informed decisions. There are drugs that do not necessarily lead to aggressiveness but increase delinquency. This happens especially if these drugs are addictive and individuals have to keep consuming them to remain mentally stable. These individuals lose the capacity to work but still need to access the drugs to satisfy their addiction. They come up with ways of acquiring money and other exchangeable goods illegally, for instance, theft. Drug abuse and addiction has been associated with negligence. An individual is likely to give less attention to important issues thus putting their lives at risk. For instance, drunk driving is one of the leading causes of road accidents. Alcoholics do not discern that driving with impaired physical and mental capacity puts their lives and those of other road users at risk. According to Durose and Mumola (2004) about one third of non-violent offenders in prisons have a history of drug addiction. Though these crimes might have been caused by a combination of factors, alcoholism and other forms of drug abuse are very common.

Economic-Related crime

These are crimes committed in order to facilitate the flow and use of drugs. Individuals who deal with or use drugs will use any means possible to ensure that they achieve their mandate. Drug abuse has been rampant in poor neighbourhoods where individuals even struggle meeting their basic needs. In order to fund their drug habits, they may be involved in larceny, prostitution or even kidnappings (Decker, 2008). Such incidents have been on the rise in many poor neighbourhoods in the US, especially with the increase in the number of synthetics drugs in the market.

Violent crimes are not only associated with the end users of drugs. Drug dealership has led to rivalry and violence that has cost many lives and property. Decker (2008) notes that most drugs are sold by gangs. The members of these gangs have illegal weapons. Rival gangs are known to attack each other in an effort to eliminate competition. Members of some gangs also engage in violence when mistrust or betrayal comes up. The gangs also victimize members of the public and security forces who do not support their actions. Drug dealers use murder, rape, robbery and assault to intimidate those against them.

Drug Abuse and Domestic Violence and child abuse

Though the attention of the law enforcement agencies has been drawn to the illicit drugs, alcohol remains one of the most abused drugs. Statistics from Bureau of Justice Statistics (2017) show that more than 60% of victims of spousal violence reported that the perpetrator had drunk alcohol before the incidents. One third of the victims was also reported to be made up of drug users. Drug abuse predisposes both the user and those around them to domestic violence. The drug user can be victimised by spouses who take advantage of their impaired physical and mental ability. In other cases, the user may become aggressive thus soliciting a violent response from family members who want to protect themselves (Devries et al., 2014). Alcohol is the most common drug affiliated to domestic violence and child abuse. Alcoholic parents are more likely to neglect and abuse the child. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (2017) parents who abuse drugs are three times more likely to abuse their children and four times more likely to abandon and neglect them comparted to parents who do not abuse drugs and other substances.


There exists a strong positive relationship between drug abuse and crime rate. Drug abuse leads to an increase in crime in three major ways. Individuals who consume drugs have impaired mental capacities and become aggressive thus easily committing crimes. Others commit crime in order to facilitate or fund their drug habits. There also other crimes that are related to the whole system of drug production, logistics and sale. These include efforts to eliminate competitors or silence critics through physical, economic and other forms of harm. Therefore, stakeholders who wish to control crime in the society should dedicate their effort on reducing drug abuse.


Bureau of Justice Statististics. (2017). Drugs and Crime Facts. Retrieved from BJS website https://www.bjs.gov/content/dcf/duc.cfm

Decker, S. H., Katz, C. M., & Webb, V. J. (2008). Understanding the black box of gang organization: Implications for involvement in violent crime, drug sales, and violent victimization. Crime & Delinquency, 54(1), 153-172.

Devries, K. M., Child, J. C., Bacchus, L. J., Mak, J., Falder, G., Graham, K., … & Heise, L. (2014). Intimate partner violence victimization and alcohol consumption in women: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Addiction, 109(3), 379-391.

Durose, M. R., & Mumola, C. J. (2004). Profile of nonviolent offenders exiting state prisons. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Lundholm, L., Haggård, U., Möller, J., Hallqvist, J., & Thiblin, I. (2013). The triggering effect of alcohol and illicit drugs on violent crime in a remand prison population: a case crossover study. Drug and alcohol dependence, 129(1), 110-115.

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