Drugs are substances that are used to treat diseases, to relieve pain and even to prevent illnesses. It can be obtained with physician’s prescription after consultation and some are dispensed easily over the counter in a drug store, or it can also be available somewhere else. This is the easiest strategy to have access with the prohibited drugs.
There are several versions of history of drug use and its prohibition . Some of which are as follow ( www.sodaknorml.org/history.htm – 70):
– 5000 B.C. The Sumerians use opium, suggested by the fact that they have an ideogram for it which has been translated as HUL, meaning “joy” or “rejoicing.” [Alfred R. Linden smith, *Addiction and Opiates.* p.207]
– 2500 B.C. Earliest historical evidence of the eating of poppy seeds among the Lake Dwellers on Switzerland. [Ashley Montague, The long search for euphoria, *Reflections*, 1:62-69, 1966; p.66
-350 B.C. Proverbs, 31:6-7: “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more
-450 Babylonian Talmud: “Wine is at the head of all medicines; where wine is lacking, drugs are necessary.” [Quoted in Burton Stevenson (Ed.), *The Macmillan Book of Proverbs*, p.21]
-1000 Opium is widely used in China and the Far East. [Alfred A. Linden smith, *The Addict and the Law*, p.194]
-1493 The use of tobacco is introduced into Europe by Columbus and his crew returning from America.
Whatever the drug use history tells, it is undeniable that its abuse is very rampant nowadays. There are several drug related offenses and most of the crimes are correlated with the illicit drug use. There are three contextual relationship between drug use and crime; “psychopharmacologic mechanisms increase violent outcomes more directly, either through intoxication or withdrawal, economic-compulsive associations refer to situations in which children (or adults) commit a crime to obtain money to purchase drugs, and systemic issues relate to involvement in the drug trade (for example, dealers’ disputes, problems with informers, and punishment for adulterated drugs or unpaid debts)”, (Goldstein, 1985, 493-506, as stated in Conduct Disorder: A Biopsychosocial Review, 2001).
The most common drugs that are abused are cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines. As mentioned, drugs are related to crime through the effects on individuals’ behavior to commit illegal activities and violence. The table below was taken from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which conducts an annual National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) that asks individuals living in households about their drug and alcohol use and their involvement in crimes (Walters, 2000).
|Percentage of past year illicit drug and alcohol users and nonusers reporting having been arrested and booked for breaking a law, 1997*|
|Illicit drug use in past year†||Drunk 51 or more days in past year|
|Yes (4,147)||No (20,358)||Yes (1,023)||No (23,482)|
|In past year arrested and booked for (unweighted N):|
|Larceny or theft||1.6%||0.1%||1.8%||0.2%|
|Burglary or breaking and entering||0.9||‡||1.2||0.1|
|Motor vehicle theft||0.5||‡||0.7||‡|
|Driving under the influence||2.8||0.2||4.8||0.3|
|Drunkenness or liquor law violation||1.5||0.1||4.0||0.1|
|Possession or sale of drugs||2.8||‡||2.4||0.3|
|* Due to improved procedures implemented in 1994, these estimates are not comparable with those presented in NHSDA Main Findings prior to 1994.
† “Illicit drug use” indicates use of marijuana or hashish, cocaine (including crack), inhalants, hallucinogens (including PCP and LSD), or heroin or nonmedical use of psychotherapeutics at least once.
‡ Low precision; no estimate reported.
Source: HHS, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Main Findings 1997.
Table 1Table 1
|Summary of relationship between drugs and crime
|Drug-defined offenses||Violations of laws prohibiting or regulating the possession, use, distribution, or manufacture of illegal drugs.||Drug possession or use. Marijuana cultivation. Methamphetamine production. Cocaine, heroin, or marijuana sales.|
|Drug-related offenses||Offenses to which a drug’s pharmacologic effects contribute; offenses motivated by the user’s need for money to support continued use; and offenses connected to drug distribution itself.||Violent behavior resulting from drug effects. Stealing to get money to buy drugs. Violence against rival drug dealers.|
|Drug-using lifestyle||A lifestyle in which the likelihood and frequency of involvement in illegal activity are increased because drug users may not participate in the legitimate economy and are exposed to situations that encourage crime.||A life orientation with an emphasis on short-term goals supported by illegal activities. Opportunities to offend resulting from contacts with offenders and illegal markets. Criminal skills learned from other offenders.|
Table 2. (Taken from the Drug Policy Clearing House by Walters, 2000)
The table above shows the relationship and comparison between drug use and crime through the 3 contextual mechanisms. Drug –defined offenses are the systemic aspect, and drug-using lifestyle is the economic aspect which both affect the large social units such as the community and nation while the drug-related offenses are involve in the psychopharmacological aspect which could include the behavioral development of the individual l(Roth,1994).
From the informations above, the question arises; which among the three contextual factors set the greatest social threat?
Economic and social factors involve illegal drugs and violence that are linked through drug marketing. This includes the disputes among rival distributors, arguments and robberies involving buyers and sellers. It is the most common committed property crime to raise drug money. Behavioral alterations due to pharmacological effect of alcohol and other drugs affect individual by obtaining and consuming the substances. These factors interact in chains of events. Alcohol is the only psychoactive substance whose consumption has been shown to commonly increase aggression (Roth, 1994).
Since economic and social factors affect larger size of population compared to the psychopharmacologic factor, it can be concluded that that first two factors set the greatest threat to the society.
Benson, B. L. , David, W. and Rasmussen, L., et al. (1996). Independent Policy Report: Illicit Drugs and Crime. The Independent Institute: Oakland. Retrieved June 8 , 2006, from
Roth, J.. (1994). Psychoactive Substances and Violence. Drugs and Crime
Retrieved June 8, 2006, from http://www.umsl.edu/~rkeel/180/drgcrime.html – 61k
(2001, September). Conduct Disorder: A Biopsychosocial Review. Retrieved June 8, 2006, from http://www.cpa-apc.org/Publications/ Archives/CJP/2001/September/conduct3.asp – 8k
Walters, J. P. (.2000). Taken from the Drug Policy Clearing House. Retrieved June 8, 2006, from http://whitehousedrugpolicy.org/publications/factsht/crime/index.html
Retrieved June 8, 2006 from http://www.sodaknorml.org/history.htm – 70