Substance Abuse Its Relation to Crime Levels Aggression and Criminal Responsibility Term Paper

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Substance abuse can be defined simply as a maladaptive use of any harmful substance for the purposes of mood-altering and not limited to the use of prohibited drugs or the misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs with an intention other than that for which it is recommended or in a way or in quantities other than instructed (Bennett & Holloway, 2005).

Drug related crimes are brutal criminal acts that are committed by persons under the influence of the abused substance. These crimes may include crimes that occur due to the victim's or offender's drug use, crimes that emerge subsequent to the reprobate's need to support his or her drug routine, and crimes that happen as a result of drug trafficking and circulation are all referred to as drug-related crimes. These crimes can be categorized as victim/offender related crimes, economic related crimes and system related crimes

A victim/offender related crime consists of those that are resultant to the intake of a drug by the victim or offender, instigating irrational or violent behavior. This may consist of commition of a crime against a victim by the criminal, as well as self-victimization due to mood changes instigated by drug abuse. The crimes also consists crimes carried out by persons experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as heightened levels of anxiety (Reamer, 2005) and petulance and intentional intake of a substance in order to alleviate anxieties and arouse courage in preparation of violent criminal acts.

System related crimes on the other hand include criminal acts that are directly and circumlocutorily connected to the system of drug supply and distribution, which often has a propensity of being associated with the execution of violent crimes. However, these are not only limited to drug possession and manufacturing violations, but also the acts of violence stemming from dealings between drug dealers; competition for the substance markets and buyers; clashes and rip-offs amongst persons engaged in the illegitimate drug souk; spoiled drug deals; recognition of police informers or undercover law enforcement officers; killing as a means of instilling systemic codes; murdering of informants; harm or death due to disputes over drug ownership; territory amongst others (WALTERS, 2002).

Economic related drug crimes include acts that are performed by drug users in order to sustain further drug use. The crimes may not be intrinsically violent, but may turn out to be violent. The most effective indicator in categorizing crimes of this kind is the fact that the offender executed the crimes with the intention to obtain the drugs.

Drugs and substances that are abused may further be classified as legal and illegal. Legally abused substances include alcohol and nicotine. Medical drugs include sedatives and tranquilizers that can be obtained through prescription and are deemed safe for medical reasons. The drugs tend to be highly addictive even at prescribed dosages. Other substances that are not considered as drugs include herbal supplements that may have profound side effects and even result in drug interactions.

Alcohol which is the most consumed psychoactive substance whose uncontrolled usage has been proved to increase aggression. Its intake and criminal acts such as violence are related through its pharmacological effects on the abuser's behavior through anticipation that heavy drinking and violence go hand in particular settings, and through over indulgence in alcohol and fighting that develops in adolescents (Bennett & Holloway, 2005).

Over dosage on illicit substances such as heroine, cocaine, marijuana, crack, amphetamines amongst others may result in violent outbursts by given individuals possibly due preexisting psychosis. Prohibited drugs and crime are primarily related through drug marketing: disagreements amongst distributors, squabbles and robberies involving both buyers and sellers, property crimes executed in order to raise money for drugs and more tentatively, socio-economic relations of the illegal markets and the society at large.

Criminal offences that have been committed while under doctor prescribed medications should be pardoned and the offenders counseled as they did not execute the crimes intentionally but while under the influence of the given drugs. However, those who commit crime while under the influence and abuse of over the counter drugs and self prescribed medication should be prosecuted as the crime is as a result of abuse of the given drugs. Ingestion of medical drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil that are used as anti-depression drugs have been seen to result in aggression leading to criminal acts such as murder, homicide, assault, rape etc.

Controversial medication such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil that have been confirmed to result in violence and crime due to their intake should either be made illegal or strict laws to monitor their prescription and usage be introduced in order trim down self prescription by making them doctor only prescription (Reamer, 2005). This will help in alleviating crimes that are committed while under such medications thus reducing the number of the offenders while at the same time ensuring justice to the offenders and the victims.

Tranquillizers and sedatives such as Valium and Prozac are meant to allay anxiety and bring about calmness and relaxation. Drug users on the other hand use these drugs them to come down and relax after an intake of cocaine, heroine and crack. This leads to addiction of the body to benzodiazepines and thus the need for more of these drugs so as to get the same effect (Bennett & Holloway, 2005). Steroids that are used to enhance muscle mass may bring about unprecedented rage, with the consumer becoming violent and sexually abusive. They also deprive the user of sleep resulting in depression, confusion and paranoia.

The long-term effects of usage of these drugs may include psychological dependency, where a person becomes convinced that he/she cannot function properly without the use of the drugs. Use of crystal meth/methamphetamine and speed/amphetamine makes the abuser feel strong, energetic and confident in a short duration but with the high, may cause panic, irritability and a paranoid feeling that everybody is watching him/her. Smoking methamphetamine (crystal meth) enables one to get a prolonged high but with a terrible comedown, leaving one with a sense of hopelessness and sadness

The long-term effects of using the above drugs may include permanent depression caused by regular injection of speed into the blood stream and difficulties in thinking, remembering, finding solutions to problems and coping with one's emotions (Schuckit, 2006).

Medical officers and doctors administering medications that have been confirmed to trigger aggressiveness and violence amongst the sick or users should monitor their patients closely and also take into account both psychological and physical health of the patients before administration and prescription of such drugs.

The Criminal Justice System has introduced a number of programs to help deal with the drug problem such as Early Intervention Programs (EIP), which is meant for the first time and junior offenders of drug related crimes. These include plans developed in order to hold the offenders responsible for the criminal acts and place them in closely supervised programs with the aim of reestablishing the offenders in the society without a felony record after a successful achievement of various requirements. These may comprise admitting to having committed the said crime, consistently reporting to a probation officer, completing the assigned community service, undergoing frequent drug tests, paying all compensations (Bean, 2008) to the victims of the crime he/she committed and paying all court costs. This program takes a minimum of six months and a maximum of one year. Successful accomplishment of the program leads to the offender's file being expunged (Schuckit, 2006).

Drug courts have also been established with the aim of diminution of recidivism and drug abuse amongst non-violent drug abusing reprobates by increasing their chances of successful restoration through early, continuous intense judicial supervision of treatment, mandatory and regular drug testing and the use of appropriate restrictions (Mears, 2010) and other rehabilitation services. The courts also aims at bringing about a coordinated approach to oversee drug court responses to participants' compliance, sustaining judicial interaction with each and every drug court participant and forging of partnerships between drug courts, public outfits and community-based organizations to enhance local support and improve the effectiveness of the drug courts. The judicial system has also established Adult Drug Treatment Courts with the intention to hold adult criminal offenders accountable, to bring to a standstill all criminal activities that are linked to alcohol and drugs abuse, and to increase the probabilities of successful rehabilitation of delinquents through early, continuous, and rigorous supervision of substance abuse treatment by the courts (WALTERS, 2002) and other appropriate restoration services that will allow partakers to become fully integrated into the society as productive and responsible members

Unlike first time offenders, repeat and chronic drug offenders face incapacitation which has been viewed as a crime control strategy by getting rid of the delinquents off the streets. Chronic offenders are locked in prisons so as to ensure public safety. Thus, criminals who use are seen not merely as drug users but also as people who are likely to execute drug dealings, robbery, identity theft and other offenses to support their patterns. A…[continue]

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