Addiction leads people to actions they would previously have thought unimaginable. The Clarion-Ledger highlights two cases in which drug users turned to crime to feed their habit as an illustration of how drugs ruin lives.

Robert Pace, a resident of Oak Grove, was doing pretty well. He was holding down a top job and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle. Then he was injured in an accident. The prescription opioids he was given made him feel great, and when they were withdrawn, they left behind a vacuum that he felt needed to be filled. That’s when he turned to heroin. The quest for the next high became a compulsion that overrode any other consideration, and Pace was arrested on a number of occasions.

For Iris Thompson, it was crack cocaine that ultimately became the master of her destiny. She says that there was nothing she would not do in order to get her hands on the next fix. Multiple arrests followed, and she eventually found herself facing a felony charge and the possibility of a lengthy jail term. A compassionate ruling by the court enrolled her in a rehabilitation program instead, and today, Ms Thompson has been drug-free for a decade.

Law enforcement officers say drugs, alcohol behind “most” crimes

A spokesman for Hattiesburgh Police Department said that the majority of crimes the department dealt with were in some way related to substance abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse agrees that drug use and criminal activity are closely linked. Of course, simply possessing illegal drugs is a crime, but the organization says that the lifestyle addicts find themselves living is responsible for further criminal behavior.

If a true addict runs out of money, theft and burglary are common “solutions”, and while under the influence of drugs, skewed judgement can lead to other crimes including murder. The Forrest County Sheriff’s Department says that the financial problems addicts experience lead to the majority of crimes. “They go by any means to be able to get the narcotics,” says a spokesperson.

Worrying statistics indicate a cycle of crime and drug use

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals confirms that the majority of prison inmates are in jail because of substance abuse. In its report, it says that 80% of offenders were abusing alcohol or drugs habitually, and 60% of offenders tested positive for drug use at the time of their arrest. 50% of inmates are “clinically addicted”, and 60 -80% will reoffend after their release from prison. Worst of all, 95% will return to substance abuse.

Prisons are meant to rehabilitate people so that they can re-enter society, but this is clearly not happening.

Are Drug Courts the solution?

Non-violent people who have committed some crime or another and are addicted to drugs may be placed under the supervision of the drug court for an extended period of time. Treatment is provided, and people on these programs are expected to fulfil their obligations towards their families and society.

Third party scientific studies have found that these courts are far more effective than incarceration, probation, and even treatment without later supervision. The whole process is achieved at a much lower cost.

The slippery slope

At first, people usually use illegal drugs now and then. Later, the frequency of use increases, and so does the cost. To make matters worse, the obsession with drugs begins to affect work performance, and many addicts lose their jobs.

To find money for drugs, people begin by selling some of their personal possessions. Later, they may start stealing from family members, then friends and neighbors. By this time, addiction is entrenched, and using drugs isn’t done for fun, but out of a feeling of grim necessity. The stage is set for crime. To the user, nothing but the drug matters any more.

Marijuana may not be a “Gateway drug” but…

Using marijuana is becoming socially acceptable, but although research sponsored by the FDA found that simply using marijuana doesn’t create a need for “stronger” drugs, buying it illegally puts users in temptation’s way. An illegal drug dealer who sells marijuana may well sell other drugs too, and a little salesmanship is often used to persuade people to try something new that is much more dangerous, addictive and harmful.

Getting help is the best thing you can ever do

If you or someone close to you is showing signs of losing control of their lives as a result of drug use, getting help is the best solution. Trying to deal with addiction or help an addict without expert assistance may well prove fruitless. Many people worry about stigma, or the possibility of getting a loved one arrested after speaking out, but confidential help can be obtained. The sooner action is taken, the sooner a new addict gets adequate treatment, and the more likely they are to be able to break the habit.