Summary

Drinking alcohol and involvement in criminal behavior frequently occur together. Some of the time alcohol has a causal role in crime, but often it is merely present. Drinking is most likely to be relevant causally to expressive interpersonal violence—including family violence. Drinking can increase the risk of being victimized as well. Drinking may also sometimes help account for the commission of crimes to obtain money to support the habit, but alcohol is not a major factor in the occurrence of income crime. Drinking leads to criminal behavior in a number of ways, including the effects that alcohol use has on cognition and the rules that govern behavior and accountability for behavior. The alcohol-crime relationship is complex. It is clear that drinking is rarely the only cause of criminal behavior, and that when it does contribute, it is usually only one of a number of relevant factors.

(SEE ALSO: Complications: Cognition; Crime and Drugs; Drunk Driving; Economic Costs of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependence; Expectancies; Family Violence and Substance Abuse; Social Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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James J. Collins Revised by Frederick K. Grittner

CRIME AND DRUGS Because of widespread public and political concern over drug-related crime, there has been an urgent need to understand the drugs-crime relationship. However, despite numerous studies on this topic, only re cently have significant empirical advances in our understanding emerged.

Authors of a comprehensive literature review published in 1980 concluded that the drugs-crime relationship was far more complex than originally believed (Gandossy et al.). While acknowledging significant contributions of previous research, the authors felt that methodological problems in the studies they reviewed had obscured an understanding of the linkage between drugs and crime. As these and other reviewers have observed, perhaps the most serious of these weaknesses was the use of official arrest records as indicators of criminal activity. Studies using confidential self-report methods in settings in which there is immunity from prosecution have consistently documented that less than 1 percent of offenses committed by drug abusers result in arrest.

With a subsequent emphasis on confidential self-report data, studies conducted since 1980 have permitted more realistic estimates of the extent of criminality among drug abusers. In addition, victims of violent crime are now being asked whether they perceived the offender to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The annual Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey asks this question of crime victims. Though a subjective inquiry, the 1998 survey revealed that 30 percent of victims could not determine whether the offender was under the influence of a substance. Of those who could make a determination, about 31 percent reported that the offender was under the influence of drugs or alchohol.

In 1997, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) established the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) Program to measure drug use among ar-restees by calculating the percentage of arrestees with positive urine tests for drug use. ADAM data are collected voluntarily and anonymously at the time of arrest in booking facilities in thirty-five U.S. cities. The ADAM program has given researchers a powerful tool for obtaining empirical evidence of patterns of drug abuse. ADAM is the only national research program studying drug use that employs both drug testing and interviews, giving analysts the means of assessing validity of self-report data. Therefore, ADAM data are less susceptible either to exaggeration or denial of drug use than many other surveys. Moreover, ADAM is the only national drug research program built upon data collection at the local level. This data has revealed that there is no single national drug problem, but rather different local drug problems that vary from city to city.

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