Drugs are related to crime in multiple ways. Most directly, it is a crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs classified as having a potential for abuse (such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines). Drugs are also related to crime through the effects they have on the user’s behavior and by generating violence and other illegal activity in connection with drug trafficking. What follows are excerpts taken from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Illicit drug users were also about 16 times more likely than nonusers to report being arrested and booked for larceny or theft; more than 14 times more likely to be arrested and booked for such offenses as driving under the influence, drunkenness, or liquor law violations; and more than 9 times more likely to be arrested and booked on an assault charge.
Data collected from male arrestees showed that the percentage testing positive for any drug ranged from 42.5 percent in Anchorage, Alaska, to 78.7 percent in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Female arrestees testing positive ranged from 33.3 percent in Laredo, Texas, to 82.1 percent in New York, New York. Male arrestees charged with drug possession or sales were among the most likely to test positive for drug use, while female arrestees charged with prostitution, drug possession, or sales were among the most likely to elicit a positive test result. Males and females arrested for stolen vehicles, robbery, and burglary also had high positive rates. Test results further showed that opiate use demonstrated a positive correlation to polydrug use: of the individuals who tested positive for opiates, three-fourths also tested positive for another drug.
Data collected from juvenile male arrestees in 13 cities showed that, similar to adult arrestees, the highest positive rates were found in juveniles charged with drug sales or possession. Overall, however, juvenile arrestees were less likely than adult arrestees to test positive for drug use. For juveniles who did test positive for any drug use, marijuana was overwhelmingly the drug of choice. On average, half of the juvenile males tested had positive results for marijuana. In addition, it was found that juvenile male arrestees who were in school were less likely to test positive for drugs than those not in school. This was particularly the case for cocaine and methamphetamine.
Trafficking in illicit drugs tends to be associated with the commission of violent crimes. Reasons for the relationship between drug trafficking and violence include the following:
- Competition for drug markets and customers.
- Disputes and rip-offs among individuals involved in the illegal drug market.
- The tendency toward violence of individuals who participate in drug trafficking.
In addition, locations in which street drug markets proliferate tend to be disadvantaged economically and socially; legal and social controls against violence in such areas tend to be ineffective. The proliferation of lethal weapons in recent years has also made drug violence more deadly.
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A list of commonly abused drugs with pictures and information: