Drugs, Crime, and Criminal Activities

According to Glen R Hanson and Peter J Venturelli, “There is a long-established close association between drug abuse and criminality.” There are two contrasting views in this approach. The first one is that criminal behavior develops to support a drug addiction, and the second one is that criminality is inherently linked to drug users’ personalities but occurs independently of drug use. This raises two questions.

The first one is: Does drug addiction cause a person to engage in criminal activities such as theft, burglary, and larceny to pay for the drug habits? On the other hand, a question emerges: Does the criminal behavior of a person have to do with the already existing criminal personality and that drugs are used as an adjunct to commit such crime? In other words, are drugs related to crime, or are they used to sedate and give confidence a person may need to commit a daring law violation. (Hanson G. & Venturelli P. 2006)

There has never been a clear answer to these questions since the finding whose views contradict each other continues to mount on both sides. Studies have been conducted in different cultures and settings, using different research methods and focusing on addictive drugs. This happens to be the reason behind the controversy in the relationship between drug abuse and criminal activities. As a result, there are too many factors involved in helping us distinguish cause from the results. Each type of drug has a unique, addictive potential, and there is a variation of exactly when to consider a defiant act offensive.

Furthermore, people think differently under drug influence. Therefore, it remains unclear whether criminal behavior is directly caused by poor drug use or even peer influence and socialization work in concert to cause criminal behavior. (Dantzker M.L 1999)

Directly systematic observation of crime is difficult due to the system for reporting crime as weak and uniform due to its inherently stealthy nature. A good example is the one from the FBI, which gets the root of crime in two ways. The first one is where individuals confess their own criminal convictions or involvements, and the second one is the victimization survey known to report the general criminal activities. Through these, one can tell or assess the criminal information. (Rasmussen D.W & Benson B 1994)

Also, some examples of the findings show the connection between drugs and criminal activities, such as the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s), Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM), which conducted urine tests on females in 21 and males in 23 cities. There was a range of 51.4% in San Jose to 80.5% in Manhattan of all those who tested positive at the time of the arrest. A female arrestee who tested positive in Indianapolis was lower, but that for Manhattan was the same as that of the males.

These findings were later affirmed in 1997 by the Bureau of Justice statistic who released information that about half or rather over half of the inmates committed their crime when they were under the influence of some drugs: this is a clear indication that some drugs have an effect on crime or rather that there is a relationship between drug abuse crime and criminal activities in our society. Also, the same survey indicated that over three-quarters of the inmates in the local jails had reported using drugs at one time in their life.

Though they may not have been under the influence of the drugs by the time of committing the crime, they were at one time involved with drugs, and this may have had an effect on their engagement in criminal activities www.drugpolicycentral.com

In that research, 33 percent of the inmates had been jailed for a drug offense. Sizeable proportions were incarcerated for a property offense, violent offense, and public order offence-Public intoxication, loitering, distributing the peace, and so on. However, something common came out of these findings; that all the parties involved were under the influence of some drugs at the time of the occurrence of the offense. www.interpol.int/public/Drugs

There was another little recent study by Robert Wood Johnston Foundation in 2001. This study showed that there was a dramatic correlation between crime and drug use. The study, which was conducted on criminal cases concerning theft, assault, and homicide, revealed that at least half of the people, especially the adults arrested, were under the influence of drugs by the time they were committing the offense. From those findings, approximately 30% of state prisoners and 40% of federal prisoners were drunk or were under the influence of drugs by the time they were committing the offense. This shows that drugs directly affect the rate of criminal activities. (Dantzker M.L 1999)

There are some situations where drugs do not have a direct relation with criminal activities. We also find that drugs have an indirect relation to criminal activities. That means that some people may commit a certain type of crime to have some money. This is evident to those people who are addicted to drugs. Sometimes they find that they do not have money. They are addicted, and thus, they can not live without drugs. So what they do is that they engage in some criminal activities such as robbery so that they can be able to get money and buy drugs. Approximately one out of every six major crimes is committed since the offender needs to get money for drugs. (Allen C 2007

Drugs can be classified into legal and illicit drugs, as under a study conducted by the US household survey of Drugs Abuse. They were found to commit a crime or linked with criminal activities had a link to illicit drug use. This shows that there is a correlation between drug use and criminal activities. The research revealed a difference in the occurrence of the crime and the type of drug used. (White L. W 1996)

Drugs can be related to criminal activities in many other ways. We find that there is also an indirect correlation between drugs, crime, and criminal activities. We find that some people are known to commit criminal activities to cover up some drug deals. Such is common with the mafias or those other great drug barons in a certain state. Some of these happen to be drug tycoons, and they are wealthy. They have dealings of a lot of drugs and a lot of money. These tycoons are known to kill people who stand by their way and prevent them from achieving their goals. They also have rival groups where we find them (the drug dealers) fighting among themselves. They sometimes result in the death of these people, which can be considered criminal activity. (Rasmussen D.W & Benson B 1994).

Some of these people are these tycoons who may commit some other types of crimes. In some cases, these people are involved in high-profile criminal activities. They may be involved in dealing that has gone too far that the government is involved. In some corrupt states, these tycoons are known by the police department. These people keep doing their business despite their business being illegal.

In most cases, these people do bribe the department so that they can still do business underground. Corruption is a criminal offense that is prosecutable by law, resulting in an underground drug business. This also shows a relationship between drugs and crime. (Hanson G. & Venturelli P. 2006)

There are two types of drugs. These are licit and illicit drugs. The licit operate in the open and legal world, and the illicit one operates in the dark and illegal world. This means that they use the illegal market and the black market. The black market is considered a criminal offense, and one can be charged in a court of law. Thus this means that if illegal drugs have to be a black market which is considered a crime, meaning that criminal activities will have to be there. Also, this shows a clear indication of the connection or the relationship between crime and drugs. (Hanson G. & Venturelli P. 2006)

Addiction to drugs makes people commit a crime. Most of the lower socio-economic class of people who takes drugs find themselves in this mess. After some time, they are addicted, but they do not have enough money to cater to their addiction. That means that they have to engage in some criminal activities, or rather, they find that criminal activities or committing a crime is the only thing that they can do to get the money to pay or to buy the expensive illicit narcotic drugs. And because they do not have anywhere to get regular pay from, they will always engage in criminal activities. (White L. W 1996

Drugs are known to influence one to commit a crime. That is, they do not influence the person directly, but people commit crimes so that they can get or fulfill their drug addiction needs. Hanson G. & Venturelli P. (2006), in their book Drugs and Society, says that heroic addict criminal activities are a result of addiction and not the influence of the substance. This shows that there is a link, especially between drug addiction and criminal activities. However, most of this occurs in the area that is not economically well off, where there are people who do not have money to meet this daily addiction. (Hanson G. & Venturelli P. 2006)

Drug use and criminal activities can be linked to each other from the social or subculture attachment. This is to say that drug addiction is mostly to those places where there is high consumption of these drugs, say narcotic drugs. In these areas, there are many criminal activities, and people view those areas as criminal areas. It is viewed that all the people in these areas and are taking drugs are expected to be involved in criminal activities. So when such people take these drugs, they are likely to commit a crime. (White L. W 1996)

Drugs can be linked to criminal activities through prostitution. We find that in some places, prostitution is not legal, and anyone who is found prostituting can be liable for a charge in the court of law. Some people may also be involved in prostitution simply because they want to get some money to buy drugs. In such cases, it can be said that drugs have caused such people to engage in criminal activities, in this case, prostitution.

An example is a case where we find a young lady who is addicted, let’s say, to heroin moving to the streets to get some money for the drugs. This mostly happens to those areas or rather those states that are still developing or rather in the developing world. Also, it happens to those people who live below the poverty level as they have to earn a living, and they do not know how to do this. They also have to get some money to buy or to cater for their drug addiction. Thus the circumstances force them to engage in prostitution. (White L. W 1996)

Many research showed that or rather were linked to men’s use of the drug. However, research in the 1980s showed that women were also linked to drug use. The research found that women who were linked to drug use had some criminal records in their history. They were linked to criminal activities mostly to support their addiction. The research showed that these women who did not turn to prostitution turned to other forms of getting money to support their addiction. Most of them turned into other criminal activities such as car theft, shoplifting, and pick-pocketing. Most women were not linked to robbery and burglary. “Am not sure now my drugs use and hustles go together. Booting (shoplifting) and fraud are my main hustles. Sometimes I will get into something else like burglary, but that’s only if an asked to be a partner”. (Sterk, 1999).

Drug use has also been linked to organizations. Most of the people who belong to drug gangs are linked to organized crimes. Organized crimes are criminal activities such as violence, kidnapping, or even murder. www.drugpolicycentral.com

Due to most of the criminal activities being linked to drug use, we find that the state also links all the other activities that relate to criminal activities to the drug. Most of the organized criminal activities are conducted by an organization’s drug gang. At some points, they require a ransom or something that is or will be related to criminal activities. At sometimes, they may request a ransom from the government for a certain amount of money, and while at other times, they may kidnap an important person requiring the government to do some favor for them, for example, release some criminal implicated for drug dealing.

At other times, they may highjack planes and require one of their own who has been arrested in relation to drugs to be released. These can be termed as criminal activities relating to drug use either directly or indirectly. (Strain E. 2005)

A good example is the sweeping indictment of 28 alleged TTP Blond members unsealed in federal court in Baltimore. Twenty-six of them were charged will racketeering conspiracy. They were charged under the law designed to go against organized crime. They were accused of committing five murders along with other robberies in the past two and half years. www.drugpolicycentral.com

Drug use has also been linked to criminal activities in that those people how might have used drugs at their young ages or when they were young had an involvement with the drugs end up having a negative impact on their life when they grow up. They may end up engaging in criminal activities. They are likely to engage in criminal activities when they grow up. Strain (2005), in his book The Treatment of Opioid Dependence, says that drug use happens not to be the only path leading to crime; early drug use fosters a criminal behavior pattern that sometimes continues to adulthood. (Strain, 2005).

Criminal activities are related to how long and how much a person has taken the drugs or rather the extent of the drug use and also to the type of drug used. Research shows that those people who take cocaine are likely to commit more lethal and more serious crimes than the others who do take other types of drugs. The research also says that those people who are on the list of committing very serious crimes are usually cocaine addicts.

Heavy drug use is linked to more diverse crime or a rather more diverse array of criminal activities. For example, in an early study conducted in Miami, it should be that 239 males interviewed who were cocaine addicts committed 80644 criminal acts during the 12 months prior to their interview. When the same cohort was interviewed when it was not addicted, the cohort had only 41 days of criminal activities per year. While the influence of addiction, it was found that the same cohort had committed crime on 248 days per year. This research shows that drug use or even drug abstinence can actually affect or influence the criminal activities that may be happing in a specific area. (Strain, 2005).

One consequence of the connection drug crime is that most of those who end up in drugs definitely end up engaging in other criminal activities. This may be in most cases due to the connection that exists between these two that the society has a link or rather an attitude that makes people think that all those people who are linked to drugs in one way or another end up being linked with criminal activities. Also that most of the people who take them are poor. This means that they have to have a way of getting their money for the use to attend to their addiction. This makes them more liable to committing crimes as these are the only simple way of getting money.

In conclusion, this can be said the there is a link between crime and drug use. This is evident in most or rather the majority of the researches conducted around the world, which shows that majority of the criminals have a link with drug use. Also, there is quite sufficient evidence that people do commit a crime so as to cover up drug deals. There are quite enough evidence to show that drug indeed has a link to criminal activities and crime as a whole.


Allen C (2007). Crime Drug and Social theory. Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Dantzker M.L (1999) Reading for Research Methods in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Elsevier Publishers.

Hanson G. & Venturelli P. (2006) Drugs and Society. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, Inc.

Strain E. (2005) The Treatment of Opiod Dependency. JHM Press.

Rusmussen D.W & Benson B (1994). The Economic Anatomy of a Drug War; Criminal Justice in the common. Rawman & Littlefield Publishers.

Sterk E.C (1999) Women who use crack cocaine. Temple University Press.

Siegel L. J (2004) Criminology: The core, Thomson Wadsworth Publishers.

White L. W (1996) Pathways: From the culture of Addiction to the culture of Recovery. Hazelden PES Publishers.