Home > Free Essays > Law > Criminology > Substance Abuse and Crime

Substance Abuse and Crime Research Paper

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: May 12th, 2020


Psychological theories attributed to different psychologists provide the schemes for apparent actions which are involved in the criminal processes and procedures. In the course of comprehending the diverse humanistic actions as well as behaviour involving their motives and directives, psychological theories serve as an essential resource tool. An example of instances where these theories serve as an indispensable tool is in the fathoming of the principles behind actions and in the appreciation of criminal behaviour.

The rationality and exactness of these theories does vary with every factor that needs to be considered in a particular case. Since not every single theory can be accurately applied during criminal behaviour justification, it is crucial to appreciate the very fundamentals of these theories in order to draw rational and appropriate correlations.

It is also important to note that the probability and validity of appropriateness of each theory application is considered before application in each crime in order to provide adequate predictability of the felonies.

The possibility to explain and determine criminal behaviour scientifically has modified the field of criminology and inspired a vast number of studies in psychology. The unconventionalities of criminal behaviour are recurrent in the very blueprints of these psychological theories. It is in the critical analysis of these theories that we can elucidate interpersonal features of a crime, uncover possible behavioural action, and even foretell possible deviances (Vito, Maahs and Holmes, 2007, p .115).

Logically, it is still not possible to prove the theories that correspond to criminal behaviour studies and consequently the correctness and relevancy of the theories vary in application depending on the strain of the situation, the individual, environmental factors, and other contributing forces (Semin & Fiedler, 1996).

These psychological theories lay their focus on how attributes of a person may lead to criminal tendencies. Some of the theories mentioned herein include the behaviouristic, psychoanalytic, and neuropsychological theories. All these differ in their principles of applications as well as content of relevance in every criminal case scenario.

However, every theory provides suitable side of rationale for the crime occurrence via psychological perspectives. Both the environment and personality influences on criminal behaviour are considered along with the mental processes that mediate the criminal behaviour. Since the primary determinants of human behaviour and mannerisms are innate, it is proper to state that the first few years of life; the environment plays an insignificant part in moulding behaviour (Elffers et al., 2004).

The main body of this paper covers the relationship between drug abuse and crime by analyzing the different types of connections that exist between the two. In addition, the paper further elaborates on the psychology of criminal behaviour and then delves into the cognitive aspects of the link between criminal offenders and substance abuse.

Substance Abuse and Crime

Substance abuse is essentially a common recreational and exploratory practice the world over, especially among the youth. A majority of these people are capable of managing drug use, a few tend to become just regular users, but some eventually progress into full drug addiction where they are totally dependent on the drugs. This means that they are willing to do whatever it takes, crime not withstanding, so as to find their next fix.

There are numerous and different types of connections between substance abuse and criminal behaviour. It is these connections that aid in elucidating the coincidence existing between substance abuse and crime. According to Goldstein (1985, pp. 493-506), the tripartite conceptual framework, which he placed forward, adequately represents the nature of the correlation between drug abuse and violence. In his framework, three very unique and independent models seek to expound on the relationship between the two phenomena.

These were later on adopted in the study of the link that exists between drug abuse and crime. One model proposes that crime is connected to the psychopharmacological effects of certain stimulating drugs belonging to categories which are known to elicit obsession, distort both inhibitions and perceptions and undermine judgment and self-control.

A second model commonly going by the name economic-compulsive crime claims that drug addicts are usually influenced by the pressure to seeking funds to buy drugs. Lastly, there is the systemic model which argues that crime among drug and substance abusers is directly connected to the prevailing condition of the drug market (Harwood, Fountain and Livermore, 1998 chap. 6 sec. 6.2.3).

The use of illegal drugs or substance abuse is correlated to criminal behaviour. There is documented evidence, as regards to this relationship, which seems to suggest that it is not feasible to draw out a definite conclusion that ties up the two factors. This is because when carrying out most of these studies, the general assumption made is that only drug use, and not necessarily the living conditions of most criminal offenders, has a substantial bearing on their criminal tendencies (Alexander, 1990; Cited in Casavant & Collin, 2001).

Psychology of Criminal Behaviour

All of human behavioural characteristics, including both the socially acceptable and the seemingly deviant ones, are a direct consequence of a person’s thinking pattern and their intended motives. Primarily, it is the analysis of this thought processes and motives that ultimately constitute the study of the psychology of criminal behaviour. One’s living conditions or environmental factors and their heredity make immense contributions towards them engaging in otherwise socially unacceptable tendencies like crime (Jones, 2005).

Psychology, when applied in the study of criminal behaviour, provides crucial links, which provide vital leads in the analysis of these deviant human behavioural patterns. When this is considered, correlations are drawn from the resulting findings, through thoughtful evaluation of the different theoretical blueprints. These provide a profound knowledge base in the field of criminology and helps in unravelling the cause of criminal tendencies.

Psychological theories define criminal behaviour in terms of the character or the personality attributes of an offender. The theories that help explain criminal behaviour are generally classified into three categories namely the psychoanalytic or psychodynamic, cognitive, and behavioural theories of psychology. The general argument, which is advanced by these theories, explains criminal behaviour as arising from the personality of the offender rather than their heredity or their situation.

Heredity to a lesser extend can also be viewed as a determinant factor for criminal behaviour. The causes for criminal, or deviant, tendencies in this case can be explained by the occurrence of a chemical imbalance occurring in the central nervous system of an offender which is caused by an alteration of their genes.

These alterations or mutations seem to interfere with specific neurotransmitters or chemicals messengers, which normally control inhibitions and regulate. However, this alone does not drive an individual towards unacceptable tendencies. The environment that individual is in also, to a great extend, influences the tendencies and is even reinforced by the presence of the hereditary factors.

Certain traits like having an antisocial personality, aggression, dishonesty, and recklessness are typically associated with most criminal offenders. This is because these antisocial tendencies all work to disregard laws which are essentially set up to maintain social order. This Antisocial personality disorder is often mistaken for and persons suffering from it discriminated as psychopaths or sociopaths with a majority of them ending in mental institutions.

Nevertheless, medical care is available for the treatment of this disorders and it is usually in the form of therapy. This therapeutic intervention primarily focuses on modification of the behaviour by employing a variety of techniques that encourage socially acceptable tendencies in the individual.

Cognitive aspects of the link between criminal offenders and substance abuse

It is imperative to note that currently, one of the pivotal aspects of criminology is the establishment of the association between the abuse of illegal drugs and substances and the occurrence of drug-related criminal offences. This link between the two phenomena is of great significance particularly in the widespread effort to curb the occurrences of drug-related crimes. Substance abuse is certainly a major factor in a majority of both traffic and criminal offences that are committed all over the world.

For instance, most criminal offenders often use narcotics, which primarily work by intoxicating the user and causing a general feeling of euphoria and impairing their sense of clear judgment. This includes drugs such as cannabis, responsible for most of the violent, criminal and anti-social acts in the society. Another notoriously abused substance that is linked to criminality is heroine (Anglin & Speckart, 1986).

According to Goldstein (1985, pp. 493-506), there is a sustained occurrence of psychopharmacological violence associated with the use of illegal drug and substance abuse. In addition, a connection does exist between violent crimes and offenders who are experiencing the adverse effects of drug-dependence withdrawal syndrome. Most of them are irritable, paranoid and overly impatient which in most case induces them to criminal acts such as assault, robberies and even murder.

In the analysis of the criminal behaviour of most drug abusers, emphasis should especially be placed on the fact that the inception of substance abuse or use illicit drugs does not necessarily lead to the advent of criminality. On the contrary, it is the frequent, and not the inception of drugs and substance abuse that leads to an escalation of crime.


There exists a fundamentally etiological relationship between substance abuse and criminality. These abused illegal drugs and substances, for instance heroin, cocaine, mandrax, and cannabis, are all highly addictive which drives the individuals enslaved to them driven to commit both serious and petty criminal offences. This is can be attributed to the prices of these drugs being quite expensive implying that the addicts can only afford them through engaging in criminal activities, so as to get money quickly.

It is therefore appropriate to say that the criminality does ride on the wave of substance abuse. Another conclusion is that the abuse of drugs and substances that effectively contribute to the perpetuation of a criminal careers. From this, we can ascertain that in most cases, criminal behaviour does takes place after the offender has begun abusing substances. It is also proven that a criminal behaviour does provide a platform for supporting an individual’s addiction to the drugs and substances.


Anglin, M. D. and Speckart, G. (1986). Narcotics use, property crime, and dealing: Structural dynamics across the addiction career. Journal of Quantitative Criminology. Vol. 2, No. 4.

Casavant, L. and Collin, C. (2001). . Library of Parliament. Web.

Elffers, H., Bruinsma, G. and Keijser, J. W. (2004). Punishment, places and perpetrators: developments in criminology and criminal justice research. Oxfordshire, Willan Publishing.

Goldstein, P. J. (1985). The drugs/violence nexus: A tripartite conceptual framework. Journal of Drug Issues, Vol. 15, Fall 1985, pp. 493-506.

Harwood, H., Fountain, D. and Livermore, G. (1998). The Economic Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the United States1992. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse. Web.

Jones, C. M. (2005). . Web.

Semin, G. R., Fiedler K. and Holmes, R. M. (1996). . London, Sage Publications Ltd. Web.

Vito, G. F., Maahs, J. R. and Holmes, R. M. (2007). . Sudbury, M. A., Jones & Bartlett Learning. Web.

This research paper on Substance Abuse and Crime was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Research Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper

Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2020, May 12). Substance Abuse and Crime. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/substance-abuse-and-crime/

Work Cited

"Substance Abuse and Crime." IvyPanda, 12 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/substance-abuse-and-crime/.

1. IvyPanda. "Substance Abuse and Crime." May 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/substance-abuse-and-crime/.


IvyPanda. "Substance Abuse and Crime." May 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/substance-abuse-and-crime/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Substance Abuse and Crime." May 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/substance-abuse-and-crime/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Substance Abuse and Crime'. 12 May.

More related papers
Psst... Stuck with your
assignment? 😱
Psst... Stuck with your assignment? 😱
Do you need an essay to be done?
What type of assignment 📝 do you need?
How many pages (words) do you need? Let's see if we can help you!