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Addiction and Crime

Addiction is often a root cause for criminal behavior, and individuals addicted to drugs and alcohol commit around 50% of all crimes. The connection between drug use and illegal activity is why addiction treatment programs should be accessible and provide the best possible care for those who need help.

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The Role of Substance Abuse In Criminal Behavior

The term “substance abuse” is a broad term that encompasses the use of drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse can lead to addiction, a chronic, often relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. Substance abuse can also lead to other risky behaviors like crime.

In 2017, over 6% of the U.S. population had a substance use disorder, and that number has risen since then. Opioid addicts represent over 30% of people with substance use disorders, and this addiction rate is growing every year.

Substance abuse and crime are closely intertwined. Historical data has shown that people who engage in substance abuse are more likely to commit crimes. For example, alcohol is often used as a social lubricant and can lead to violent behavior.

Drug Crimes and Public Safety

The National Institute of Drug Abuse found that drug abuse is associated with one in three crimes committed in America. Drug addicts often commit crimes to fund their habits or get more drugs. They also commit crimes when they are high or coming down from a high, leading to irrational decisions that can have severe consequences for themselves and others.

Addicts are more likely to commit crimes because addiction drives them to do harmful and illegal things. Addiction affects the brain and changes how it functions, and it can also change how people think and behave. Addicts will often do anything to get their fix, even if it means committing a crime like theft or fraud.

Incarceration for Drug Crimes

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2015, an estimated 1.3 million people were incarcerated in the United States. The majority of those incarcerated are serving time for non-violent crimes and drug offenses.

In recent years, there has been a push to provide effective drug treatment programs to inmates to reduce recidivism rates and help inmates get back on their feet after release.

The current state of prison drug treatment programs is not perfect, but there has been a significant improvement over the past few decades. Programs like “Project Rebound” have helped inmates transition into society by providing them with the resources that they need to find employment, housing, and other services after release from prison.

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Violent Crime and Substance Abuse Disorder

Violent crime is one of the most pressing issues in the United States. In 2016, there were an estimated 1,248,185 violent crimes in the US. The most common types of violent crimes were aggravated assault and robbery. The United States has a higher rate of violence than any other developed country.

The relationship between drugs and crime is a complicated one. Most of the time, drug abuse is related to property crimes such as burglary and theft. However, there are also cases where drugs have been linked to violent crimes.

In addition to violence, substance abuse disorder is also a problem in America. In 2016, there were an estimated 2 million people with substance abuse disorder in the US. Alcohol was the most abused drug (15% of adults), followed by marijuana (9%), cocaine (1%), methamphetamine (1%), and heroin (.3%).

A study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences found that a person who has used cocaine within the past year is five times more likely to commit a violent crime than someone who has not used cocaine in that same period.

Violent crime and substance abuse disorder are closely related. Substance abuse disorder is a risk factor for violence. Alcohol and drug use can lead to aggressive behavior and violence.

How Addiction Treatment Can Reduce Recidivism Rates

Over 60% of inmates are addicted to drugs or alcohol in the US, a staggering number reflecting the need for better addiction treatment. Access to addiction treatment can reduce the recidivism rate. Treatment success rates are improved when rehabilitation options are more accessible and affordable.

A study done by the University of Texas at Austin looked at recidivism rates of inmates who participated in drug treatment programs and found an 11% lower recidivism rate than those who did not participate in these programs.

It is essential to have various options for people who have different needs. Having multiple options will also help people find one that suits them best.

Addiction and Youth Crime Prevention

Addiction is a topic that needs to be addressed to solve the problem of youth crime. The statistics show that about 70% of juvenile offenders have substance abuse problems, which means that addiction is one of the most significant causes of youth criminality.

The first step to solving this problem is to identify the root cause. Studying how addiction and crime are linked will uncover the root causes of youth crime. Access to diversionary paths for juvenile criminals is one way to keep youth criminal behavior from becoming adult criminal behavior.

Crime and Addiction Statistics

The United States of America has the highest rates of violent crime globally, with an estimated 1.3 million violent crimes committed each year. In addition to this, there are an estimated 2.2 million cases of assault that occur annually in the US.

A study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that most people who abuse drugs also have a history of being perpetrators or victims of violence.

One study found that in the United States, around 60% of those imprisoned for drug offenses are incarcerated for possession rather than trafficking or production.

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Chris Carberg is the Founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Chris Carberg Founder & Mental Health Advocate

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Chris Carberg is a visionary digital entrepreneur, the founder of, and a long-time recovering addict from prescription opioids, sedatives, and alcohol.  Over the past 15 years, Chris has worked as a tireless advocate for addicts and their loved ones while becoming a sought-after digital entrepreneur. Chris is a storyteller and aims to share his story with others in the hopes of helping them achieve their own recovery.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

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