Evidence has linked drug abuse to crime for decades, and this trend continues throughout the US today with an estimated half of inmates (according to 2011 statistics) doing time for drug-related offenses. This translates to thousands of incarcerated criminal offenders, many from good families and strong communities, who simply fell into the trap of addiction.
It seems that now, more than ever, the connection between substance abuse and crime is increasingly prevalent in our society. If addiction leads to prison, what alternatives do such inidividuals have in order to live drug-abstinence lives, free of crime?
Heroin Addiction and Criminality
The US prison system is laden with criminals incarcerated for drug possession, substance abuse trafficking and other drug-related offenses who, alongside their need for drugs and/or alcohol, maintained their destructive and overwhelming drug habit through criminal activity.
You have likely heard the saying, “Addiction doesn’t discriminate.” Suburban heroin abuse LINK epidemics and prescription drug problems across the nation demonstrate the potentiality of good people from loving homes to end up in prison, driven by a blind and overwhelming urge to get and use the drugs they have become addicted to.
Further, according to what we have seen, it doesn’t appear that the criminal justice system and periods of incarceration alone serve as sufficient means of rehabilitation. In fact, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Depedence, Inc. (NCADD), substance abusers who serve time actually experience little or no reduction in drug abusing behavior or cultivation of a drug-free life in recovery.
In other words, despite the fact that a heroin abuser’s criminal actions may be solely driven by his urge for drugs, time in jail or prison which keeps an individual away from chemical substances without plans for additional and supplementary rehabilitative strategy is actually ineffective and the cost too great, according to the NCADD.
Drugs and Crime in the United States
According to the NCADD, majority of US inmates are currently serving time for drug-related offenses. Further, about 60% of arrested individuals test positive for drugs at the time of their arrest and a staggering 80% are considered drug and alcohol abusers.
Prevention is the Best Form of Treatment
When it comes to resolving the issue of drug-related crime on a long-term basis, it is important to consider the rate at which criminal behavior is growing in its association with substance abuse. Current projections estimate that approximately a quarter of 12th graders are regular substance abusers before they have even completed high school. At this rate, the future of our youth is bleak in terms of drug-related crime rates, unless effective interventional and preventative measures are implemented.
- Drug Prevention – Early and Often
Substance abuse prevention, first and foremost, begins in the home. Talk to your children at a young age and continue these discussions throughout the years as they get older. Be sure to answer their questions honestly and factually, and help prepare them for the difficult situations they may face.
- Keep Kids Happy
Simply having goals, hobbies, regular activities and a structured family lifestyle can be tremendously effective in keeping kids drug free. Learning important values, responsibility and life skills at a young age can make the transition from “tween” to “teen” a little smoother.
- Support Anti-Drug Programs
Lend a hand or show your support to programs in your community which take a stand against substance abuse, through community awareness events or other activities. These groups have the potential to leave a mark on a more crime and drug-free future.