There is a very strong link between drug addiction and crime, but it is not a crime to be a drug addict, despite what many people believe. The issue of why drug addiction is a crime is one that many individuals question, but there are those who firmly believe that drug addiction is a health issue and not a criminal one and that it should be treated as such.
Having said that, there are so many misconceptions surrounding the issue of addiction, and particularly drug addiction. The fact that many drugs are illegal means that most people assume that those who develop a drug addiction must be criminals. After all, they are taking illegal substances so have therefore done something illegal, right?
The truth, however, can be very different. For example, it is important to remember that not all drugs are illegal. It is possible to become addicted to prescription drugs and even over-the-counter medication. And let’s not forget – alcohol is also classed as a drug by many people.
The reality is that drug addiction is an illness and not a crime, but that does not stop many from assuming the worst of those who are affected.
Is Drug Addiction a Crime?
The use of illegal drugs is a crime in almost every country in the world but having a drug addiction is not something you can be prosecuted for. On the other hand, if you were found in possession of any one of many types illegal drugs, even if you only have enough drugs for personal use, you could find yourself facing a fine or even a prison sentence (or much worse in some countries).
There is a strong link between drug use and crime, but statistics have shown that having a drug addiction does not necessarily mean that you are more likely to commit other crimes such as burglary or theft Having said that, many individuals do commit crimes while under the influence of mood-altering chemical substances.
How is Drug Abuse and Crime Linked?
As previously mentioned, possessing illegal drugs is a crime as is supplying them to others, including giving them to friends. But there are other ways in which drug abuse and crime are intrinsically linked.
According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 132,935 drug offences committed during the period July 2016/June 2017 in England and Wales. Of those, 24,837 were for trafficking of drugs while 108,098 were for possession.
Drug-related crime is a huge problem in the UK. Many addicted individuals become desperate to get their hands on the drug they crave, particularly as their illness progresses. The stronger the desire for drugs becomes, the more of the substance the addicted person will need to satisfy those cravings. This can lead to them taking desperate measures, especially if their own source of funds dries up.
It is not uncommon for drug addicts to commit crime to feed their habits. Others will commit crimes while under the influence of drugs. This can include violence or driving under the influence. It is known that drug-related crimes cost the UK economy billions of pounds every single year.
There is also a strong link between drug abuse and prostitution. Some drug- and people-traffickers will force others into prostitution by offering drugs to feed their habit. This can lead to a never-ending cycle of drug abuse and prostitution. Unfortunately, prostitutes often end up the victims of violent crimes such as rape and assault themselves, but because of their lifestyle and their dependence on drugs, many never report the crime.
Why Drug Addiction Should Be Considered a Health Issue
Taking drugs for the first time is usually a choice, but not always. There are some people who are forced to take drugs, particularly those who have been trafficked. Others have been prescribed medication to treat a genuine medical condition and have inadvertently found themselves with a severe dependence. They may end up turning to street drugs when their prescription runs out.
While there are many who argue the point of why drug addiction is a crime, there are others that vehemently oppose the suggestion. In fact, many have spoken out about the issue of why drug addiction is actually a health problem rather than a criminal one.
What we do know is that addiction is an illness of the brain. Whether the substance that caused the addiction is alcohol or heroin, the illness is the same. Those who find themselves with an addiction to drugs have absolutely no choice over their urge to use. The substances they are abusing affect certain parts of their brain, making it impossible for them to think clearly or logically. Without help, they are likely to find themselves sinking further and further down the path of addiction.
The consequences of addiction are massive and can have a knock-on effect on more than just the affected individual. It is easy to assume that it is only the person abusing the drugs who feels the effects, but this is never the case. The truth of the matter is that addiction has far-reaching consequences for many people as well as for society in general.
It can lead to physical and mental health problems for the drug user, but family members and friends often suffer. Living with an addict or being close to one can lead to feelings of stress and unhappiness, which can then result in harm to health and overall wellbeing.
Many people believe that because addiction is an illness, drug addicts should be offered treatment rather than be prosecuted. Those found in possession of illegal drugs for personal use tend to be struggling with addiction and will usually be unable to quit without help. Unfortunately, many of those who are crippled by addiction do not know how or where to access the help they need. As such, they continue in a cycle of drug abuse and risk being prosecuted.
How Can Addicts Get Help?
For those dealing with drug addiction, either their own or that of a loved one, help is available. Treatment programmes are provided by the NHS, local support groups, charities, and private clinics, among others. Nevertheless, because addiction services are underfunded here in the UK, programmes provided by the NHS and charity organisations tend to not be able to meet the demand placed upon them.
It is often the case that those who want to access a free programme of treatment for drug addiction waiting for many months until a place becomes available. The alternative is to look for a private clinic where treatment programmes are typically available immediately. This is because there are no funding restrictions within these organisations.
The idea of paying for treatment may not be something that you are familiar with here in the United Kingdom, but if you want immediate access to an inpatient programme, this is frequently the best course of action. Private programmes may not be as expensive as you expect either. Moreover, when you consider that you are investing in your future and that you will have the opportunity to recoup what you have spent on treatment when you are no longer funding your addiction, private treatment begins to make a lot of sense.
For those with a drug addiction, a programme of detox followed by rehabilitation is necessary to break both the physical and the psychological addiction. For more information on how to access a treatment programme for addiction, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Liberty House Clinic.
If you have been confused as to why drug addiction is a crime in some people’s minds, we can help you to understand more about the illness and why being addicted to a chemical substance is not a criminal act in and of itself. Please call us today for advice about any aspect of your illness or to find out more about how you can help an addicted loved one to get better for good.