Is The Relationship Between Drugs And Crime A Causal One?

2322 words - 10 pages

Is the relationship between drugs and crime a causal one?Many leading criminologists, analysts and scholars have written on the subject of the relationship between drugs and crime, but few have categorically agreed on one answer. Drugs and crime are very often found together, however the problem comes when attempting to explain the relationship. Is the relationship causal? If so, which way around? Drug use causes crime, or crime causes drug use? Are there other ways in which they are related, for example a common cause which affects both? Or is it even possible that sometimes the relationship is purely coincidental? These are the questions that many writers and experts have attempted ...view middle of the document...

Some have outlined slightly different approaches to analysing the relationship between crime and drug use; Goldstein (1985) outlined the three main ways drug use and crime are related: psychopharmacological, economic explanations and systematic relationships. These three models can be applied within both causal explanations already mentioned.The first model and often the most common link that is made, especially by the media, is the notion that drug use causes crime. Put simply, the large proportion of cases which fall into this category are 'drug users [who] seek illegal funds to pay for their drug use' (Bennet, T. 2005, p.11). This seems on the face of it to be the most natural connection between drug use and crime as many drug users behaviour changes dramatically after using drugs and once one has become addicted it can be the case the careers and other parts of their life can fall apart somewhat. However, there are many other ways that drug use can be the cause of crime. Psychopharmacological explanations tackle the chemical properties of drugs and look for explanations of how the body and mind can react to certain drugs (Goldstein, 1985). This kind of explanation often looks at the direct causes of drug consumption. This type of analysis has often been linked with violent crime specifically. White and Gorman (2000) outlined specifically several 'potential drug-organism interactions that might cause violent behaviour', namely: 'disinhibition, cognitive-perceptual distortions, attention-deficits, impairment of neuropathological functioning, or enhancement of psychopathological personality disorders'. It is widely accepted that this type of drug-crime link is brought about by the overpowering intoxication of the drug over internal restraints, therefore directly causing criminal behaviour. Next there are economic explanations for the drug use causes crime model, according to Goldstein (1985). In this instance it is more often than not, specifically habitual drug use such heroin or crack cocaine and the crimes in question are income-generating crime such as theft or burglary. This would probably be the first example most would think of when thinking about the question of the relationship between drugs and crime; heroin or crack addicts committing criminal offences to fund their addiction. Goldstein (1985) referred to this as the 'economic necessity' model. It is often also referred to as 'enslavement', that is the enslavement of the individual by the drug. Goode (1997) summed this view up:'Addicts and abusers become 'enslaved', unable to control their use of the drug; they spend so much money on it that they are unable to support their habit by working at a regular, legitimate job. Consequently, they must engage in crime; they have no choice in the matter.'There is often a huge level of dependency on the drug by the user and when such income-generating crimes are committed, it is out of necessity. This particular example shows a precise, dire...


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