Illicit Drugs and Alcohol Are Linked to Delinquent Behaviors

Illicit drugs and alcohol contribute to crime by promoting delinquent behaviors and recidivism among adolescents. According to Braithwaite et al. (2003), delinquent behaviors which are behaviors considered against the society norms and principle of normalization such as aggressiveness, are significantly higher among adolescents who use alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, and powder cocaine. The study shows that drug using adolescents are more likely to be involved in delinquent activities, such as theft, assault, illegal sexual activities, and threatening behavior, which all make up a crime (Braithwaite et al., 2003). The authors also note that adolescents who have been locked up previously report significant use of substances: marijuana, ecstasy, alcohol, and powder cocaine, than those who have not been locked up (Braithwaite et al., 2003). The relation between illicit drugs and crime is also evident in the criticism of the approaches to tackling crime, such as punishments and prosecution. Individuals who commit crime because of drug abuse are punished by imprisonment only to be released and commit crimes again because their drug abuse which influences criminal behavior is untreated.

Although the punishment such as imprisonment effectively reduce crime rates, they have limitations to their effectiveness and do not promote public safety in the long term (Belenko & Peugh, 1998). They do not address the underlying issues of drug and alcohol abuse, which is directly associated with crime. Illicit drugs and alcohol are implicated in many crimes. Belenko and Peugh (1998) found that about half of the inmates were under the influence of drugs and alcohol when they committed crimes. 47% of the inmates for violence crimes reported being under the influence of alcohol, while 21% reported being under the influence of other drugs, with 3% being under the influence of cocaine (Belenko & Peugh, 1998). Therefore, illicit drugs and alcohol are more linked to violent crimes, such as assault, and other crimes like property crimes.
Additionally, Belenko and Peugh (1998) show that about 75% of inmates require substance abuse treatment which addresses the root problem of criminal behavior, but only about 17% receive it. There is a need for change to integrate substance abuse treatment to reduce crime and promote reforms for released inmates. There are massive costs with the current incarceration policies, yet they are ineffective in dressing crime. Such policies are unfavorable economically, leading to increased crime rates; thus, when thousands of untreated inmates are released into society they begin engaging in crime (Belenko & Peugh, 1998). All corrections departments should treat drug abuse as the prioritized intervention for criminal behavior because of the direct relationship between the two. The delinquent behaviors can also be in the form of sexual crimes whose relation to drug abuse is discussed in the next subheading.

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