Critically discuss the various ways in which illegal drugs and crime can be argued to be linked, with particular reference to the research evidence Introduction The security problem has remained a social concern for many societies in the world because they negatively affect the lives of citizens of a given nation. Crime is a social concern that contribute to the security problem in society. There is a strong relationship between illegal drugs and violent crime in the society (Bruneau, 2017; Greenberg, 2016). The relationship between illegal drug use and crime has seen the establishment of many national substance control policies in different countries of the world towards mitigating its effects. Moreover, it is worth noting that crime rates differ across nations because of varying economic, social, and demographic features according to Korcha et al (2014). Regarding the issue of crime, various theories attempt to explain relationships between substance misuse and deviant behaviour. The following essay will critically discuss the many ways illegal drugs and crime can be linked to a range of theories of substance misuse, and how approaches are used to address problems of substance misusers, crime, and social exclusion. Theories of Substance Misuse & Crime with Relation to Links and Effects on Local Communities The use of illegal drugs is a widespread occurrence where substance misusers have been victims of different forms of crime. As observed by Hough (1996), significant amount of crimes are substance misuse-related, and a given proportion of crime that is drug-driven. Regarding this, various theories on causes of substance misuse and crime have been proposed. The various frameworks that link illegal drugs and crime have remained the subject of scientific investigation for a long time. Bennett, T Holloway, K. & Farrington, D. (2008), however state not all drugs are illegal and there, sale, as well as use, may not necessarily lead to crime. Moreover, there are substance uses that have been classified as illegal by departments of crime, and these outlawed drugs contribute greatly to criminal activities. As asserted by Cullen and Agnew (2003), community criminal behaviour is a function of illegal drug use, implying drugs lead to crime. Cullen and Agnew state theories of drug misuse conceptualize substance abuse as situational events that are likely to be in the mindset of the user or the circumstances which the drug is abused. In support of this, Benson & Moore (1992) state the complex relationship between drugs and crime is examined in three ways. Firstly, the immediate effect that the drug has on the mind and the body of the user, contribute to the mental as well as physical states that facilitate aggression. Secondly, substance use is connected to crime when the user has an urgent need to take drugs, but lacks requirements, leading to predatory crimes such as robbery, theft, and burglary among others. Thirdly, crime is related to illegal drugs in that the use, trade, and manufacture of certain psychoactive substances are illegal. When a substance is considered illegal, participants involved in its market and use are victimized by the police, which results in retaliation, stated by Lander, Howsare, and Byrne (2013). Substance abuse is related to crime if the physical or mental state that it brings on the user becomes conducive for offense, resulting in the motivation to steal or engage in retaliatory crimes. The psychopharmacological effect of substance misuse is believed to increase chances of lawbreaking in communities such as theft, burglary, murder and robbery. This point is expanded by Agnew (1992) who states, involvement in substance misuse leads to entrepreneurial crimes that involve drug dealing and prostitution. The lack of medication and goodwill from the government in such cases can have the detrimental effect on the community due to retaliatory measures such as murder and assault. Britt & Gottfredson (2011) argue by mentioning theories of crime such as the biosocial theory which exploits the relationship between crime and drugs in communities. Their theory proposes crime is caused by certain biological and environmental factors that make an individual susceptible to lawbreaking. There are genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the development of drug use, which in turn promotes an individual’s involvement in criminal behaviours. Boardman, Finch, Ellison, Williams, (2001) support Britt (2011), stating research looking into the effects of drug use on the family and community at has shown that various aspects of the individuals involved in the substance misuse ranging from social structure, family settings, education, to peace and security is affected. Moreover, attempts to get many people on treatment have resulted in impacts on the entire family system. The self-control theory according to Baron (2003) is another criminological model that relates lawbreaking with an individual’s lack of self-control as the main concern to criminal behaviour. In communities, there are individuals who lack self-control which creates an environment that is conducive for lawbreaking. Bernburg & Krohn (2003) argue the neuroscientific theory of substance misuse provides an understanding of impacts of drugs on the brain and body of the user. Drugs have various primary actions on the brain particularly by affecting the endogenous opioid and dopamine reward systems, resulting in an individual’s likeliness to commit crime. Bernburg (2003) support Baron (2003) further. Certain genetic factors are likely to increase the vulnerability of depending on drugs. Various researchers such as Bernburg , (2003) have investigated the existence of the vulnerability factors in the families to find the connection between crime and drug. Moreover, psychological theories explain approaches that drug dependence is based on compulsive and impulsive behaviours that result in substance use problems that include crime, according to Britt (2011). Scientific studies conducted by various authorities in the U.S. shows that drug use is a leading factor for people to commit a crime. These views are supported by Boardman (2001) who argues, the addiction to expensive drugs such as cocaine and heroin promote individuals who cannot afford them to commit the crime to acquire the substances. The effect of the crime-drug relationship has certain negative impacts on the community, particularly on the economy, social, and political structures. Contemporary Approaches to Substance Misusers for Addressing Drug Abuse It is worth noting that illegal drug use does not automatically result in crime even among individuals who are addicted to a given substance use. Calderón (2015) states that evidence from research shows that certain cultural, social, and psychological factors can be used to identify people who are vulnerable to substance misuse. Oleinik (2013) argues that certain factors that are associated with both criminal behaviour and substance misuse, which include poverty, personality disorders, lack of social values, association with delinquents, and absence of agents of socialization in the community have led offenders to engage in crime. Therefore, it will be a wrong indication to eliminate the drugs from the community as a way of putting to an end criminal activity. Regarding this, appropriate intervention and policy development can be part of the contemporary approaches towards addressing substance misuse and abusers. To support this viewpoint, Nordstrom (2011) state the contemporary link between drugs and crime has remained uncertain, evidence from scientific studies show that drug-crime relationship is a complex association that is merely a coincidence of the two behaviours. Furthermore, there are types of crime that are associated with certain illegal drug use, possession, purchase, and manufacture because all these aspects are indictable offences. Drugs-violence relationships in America have provided an understanding to relate substance misuse and crime through the platform that the association has created (Rengert, Ratcliffe , 2005). On the other hand, the relationship between crime and drugs is made clearer and supported by Stevens (2008). Stevens states that drug misuse linked to crime is exaggerated from his research on a crime and drugs survey. Rengert, Ratcliffe ‘s views on drugs and violence are supported by Goldstein (1985). Goldstein mentions the tripartite nexis. The tripartite nexis is the view that the use of drugs cause “psycho-pharmacological effects” which causes a person to commit acts of violence. The use of contemporary approaches to substance misusers and the resources for addressing drug abuse cannot be successful without one understanding the relationship that exists between crime and illegal drug use. Approaches such as Moral Resonation Therapy (MRT) and Thinking for a Change (T4C) have resulted in a reduction of the number of substance misusers in the community as well as individuals in prison. These models help to build the relationship required for the change and then provide hope to the misusers who truly want to change their lives for the better. Another approach to addressing drug abuse is the use of clinical strategies through counselling and treatment, this is the viewpoint of Rengert, Ratcliffe & Chakravorty (2005). There is a need to address the basic needs such as housing, applying for a job, and setting of goals that the abuser needs to fulfil. Addressing criminality requires prioritizing the issues that brought the offender to the criminal justice system. Debates about Working with Substance Misusers Discussions about working with substance misusers revolve around the possibilities of ensuring an environment that will promote behaviours, skills, and attitudes for teenagers and young adults to resist societal pressures that drive them towards the path of illicit drugs misuse. In the same way, there has been the particular focus on the effectiveness of prevalence rates as the primary indicators of the success in the fight against illegal drug use (Makkai and Payne, 2003). Some of the possible interventions that have been proposed include effective prevention used hand in hand with early prevention. Whereas focus has always been on the youth while addressing illegal drug use, it is increasingly becoming noticeable how older adults continue to be at the centre of this web (de Coning and Stolsvick, 2013). The issue of whether to study illegal drug use in isolation or as a part of other societal behaviours and issues remains a hot topic. This is particularly similar in countries and communities where crime rates rank relatively lower while compared to the rest of the world. While at it, individuals and agencies working with substance misusers have a challenge determining how big their scope should extend (Resignato, 2000). Given the fact that the possibility of illegal drug use among young people has been seen to rise out of the family history of the same direction, it remains uncertain whether structural adjustments alone can help address the challenge. Resources Available for Addressing Substance Misuse Of all the resources that continue to be availed to address substance misuse, human resources rank high up. Many professionals in various fields who jointly and independently continue to spend time in finding solutions to substance misuse have been increasing. Some of these professionals are found within the fields of social work, while others are in the medical profession. Additionally, there have been adjustments to curricula to ensure that learning environments have the requisite materials to expose young people to the dangers of substance misuse (Stevens, 2008). The training that these professionals get equips them with the requisite evidence-informed and evidence-based intervention strategies. Apart from the professionals and the knowledge they possess on prevention strategies, there also exist strong institutions as well as strict legal inhibitors of substance misuse. There is a continuous identification process of new choice of substances for misuse. Legal provisions exist in most areas which limit the purchase of some of these drugs without the prescription. This helps a great deal to regulate the quantities of such substances within certain areas. Additionally, there is a comprehensive support system in place, which if well-funded, has the capacity to identify and rehabilitate substance misusers (Oleinik, 2013). Links between Substance Use and Misuse, Crime & Social Exclusion The problem of illegal drugs has mostly been defined through its direct correlation with crime. Substance users and misusers have been found to develop acquisitive tendencies, leading to the illegal increase and supply of their choice substances within their reach. Illegal substance use and misuse are thus seen as a precursor to drug dealing, and by extension, drug-related crimes (Calderon, 2015). Additionally, while addressing this concern, it has also been determined that there exists socio-economic deprivation which can be directly attributed to use and misuse of specific substances. Within communities where substance use and misuse is more pronounced, it is notable that housing decays, poverty, unemployment among other socio-economic aspects rank lower as compared to other communities (Duke, 2006). There is a significant proportion of substance users who can be said to experience legal, physical, psychological, or social problems (Pedersen and Skardhamar, 2010). A situation like this is referred to as problematic drug use. Communities with a high number of problematic drug users have higher crime rates given that this subset of drug users are largely underemployed and they have to resort to crime to satisfy themselves for substances which they are addicted to. Continued arrests only help in hardening drug users, resulting in hereditary drug use and crime within communities according to Resignato (2000). Vulnerability to problematic drug use leads to rises in drug dealing with the allure of profits creating an underworld business that is likely to be characterized by intimidations, access to firearms and the need for protection from other members of society. Regarding vulnerability as well as the development of dependence on the substance misuse, the use of illegal drugs and crime has greater impact on wider communities in the long run. Social exclusion is the aspect of poverty that results out of the exclusion of members of the community from being involved in social activities. Whereas it might not be a matter of policy to discriminate against other members of the community, it has been noted that substance users and misusers are mostly rendered unable to engage in most of these activities and are thus technically excluded. Being inactive implies that a family that is dependent on an individual who is an illegal substance user gets locked from benefiting like other families from the benefits that the community might have at its disposal (Nordstrom and Dackis, 2011). When this is not addressed early enough, the number of community members in need of specialized care and government subsidies rises, making the community sink deeper. In the long run, such individuals will seek quick fortunes to increase their uptake of the substances. This leads to increased crime rates within the community. It is worth noting that over time, some of the most misused illegal substances have become naturally associated with criminality and poverty (Rehm et al., 2007). However, some studies have observed that the impact of this interrelation has been the criminalization of the poor. Such studies contend that most of the researches on the negative impacts of substance use have focused more on the traditionally underprivileged members of the society and that such a conclusion has always satisfied their initial opinions. There is thus divided opinion on whether social exclusion leads to increased drug-related crimes or whether illegal substance use leads to criminality and social exclusion (Alasmari, 2013). What is for sure; however, as it is, illegal substance use, criminality, and social exclusion tend to coexist. Variations exist in the level of crime associated with particular illegal drugs and with different locations (Adda, McConnell and Rasul, 2014). Communities with stronger social support structures tend to register lower drug-related crimes. Illegal substance use within a community with little structural preparedness is likely to lead communities into ruin. This tends to support the argument that it is indeed the level of social exclusion of a community that determines drug-related crimes. Rangert Ratcliffe and Chakravorty (2005) argue the interplay between social, cultural and economic processes within wider communities determines the level of drug-related crime. It is noted that illegal drug businesses and consumption have mostly been on the rise at times when economic fortunes of a country are not so much regulated centrally. Conclusion Drug use continues to be one major contentious issues that society is grappling with. Substance misuse has been considered to be the key contributor to poor decision-making among the members of the community. Besides, various scientific studies have shown that there is a link between the use of illegal drug and crime. The authorities should use appropriate contemporary approaches and resources towards treating substance abusers that engage in crime. This way, numerous negative impacts of drug use and crime will be mitigated in communities.