Alcohol Effects on Crime Analysis

Alcohol Effects on Crime


The effects of drugs and alcohol on our society are becoming more and more evident as the years pass. Even though drugs and alcohol have been around for centuries, they are becoming more popular. Along with the major drugs like cocaine, crack, and heroin, the alternative or “designer” drugs like ecstasy, and GHB are becoming increasingly popular with the younger generations. Drugs and alcohol can have major effects on a person’s life and of those that are involved with him/her. Today drugs are becoming more like everything else in our society, popular and expensive, which usually instigates criminal activity. When it comes to drugs and alcohol there are many different crimes that are associated with them. Whether it’s selling drugs, stealing to get money for drugs, or committing a crime while on drugs, they are all drug-related crimes. As you will see in this paper drugs and alcohol play a major role in the crime world.


In the United States, the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs have had dramatic effects on the number of crimes that are committed. According to Joseph Califano Jr., President of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), as he states in his article, “Most Crimes Linked to Drugs and Alcohol” eighty percent of crimes committed in the United States are alcohol or drug-related. Of the 1.7 million people that are being held in prison today, 1.4 million of them have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, committed a crime while under the influence of a substance, have stolen property to pay for drugs, or somehow violated drug and alcohol laws. This study also points out how drugs and alcohol can affect a person’s mind, causing them to commit crimes that they would not have normally committed.

The number of drug and alcohol-related arrests has dramatically increased over the past 30 years. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for drug violations, there were only 328,670 arrests made in 1973 for drug violations in comparison to the 1,579,566 arrested in 2000. That is a dramatic increase in a relatively short period of time. These figures not only show the increase of drugs and drug users but the increase of drug-related crimes as well.

Even with all of the intense and illegal drugs out there such as cocaine, crack, and heroin, alcohol is the one substance that is involved in more violent crimes like rapes, murders, assaults, and spousal abuse than any of those drugs. In his article, “Behind Bars” Califano states that twenty-one percent of violent felons that are incarcerated in state prisons committed their crimes while under the influence of alcohol alone. Only six percent of inmates were on crack or powder cocaine, and just one percent on heroin.

Alcohol is the factor in the leading substance abuse crime in America, drunk driving, accounting for more than 1.4 million arrests each year. In a different survey conducted by Lawrence Greenfield, of the United States Department of Justice, Greenfield states that over thirty-six percent of criminal offenders were under the influence of alcohol at the time of their crime and forty percent of convicted murderers being held in prison say that alcohol was the only factor in the crime. These figures prove that it is not just drug addicts that are committing these crimes but its men and women under the influence of alcohol.


With all of the facts that we now have about the number of crimes that are drug and alcohol-related, it seems stupid that there are not more ways of rehabilitating these inmates. As Ronald J. Ostrow points out, inmates who have had a history with drug and alcohol abuse are the most likely to be reincarcerated, with the length of sentences increasing. Thus effective treatment programs could effectively reduce future incarceration costs. If only ten percent of the 1.2 million inmates with substance abuse problems were successfully treated they would generate $8.5 billion in “economic benefit” in the first year of work.

The facts are out there and yet it seems that the steps that are being taken are not productive. There need to be more programs available for ex-criminals to rehabilitate themselves so that they do not return to drug abuse and in turn prison. The effects that drugs and alcohol do have on the crime rate is staggering. It is hard to imagine that almost every single inmate in prison is there because of a crime they committed that was somehow related to drugs or alcohol. It seems that if there were no drugs or alcohol in this world then there would be hardly any crime at all.



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