Drugs are related to crime in many ways, both directly and indirectly. First of all, the manufacturing, possessing and smuggling of illicit drugs is a crime. Drug users are also known to engage in risky behaviors such as driving under the influence of drugs or practicing unsafe sex. However, innocent individuals might be harmed by drug abuse too. Date rape is a crime in which drugs are unknowingly consumed by a female and after losing her consciousness, she is raped. There are laws to prevent these crimes but enforcing them is not easy, requiring a large supply of manpower and budget. Therefore, drug abuse is not only an individual problem, but a societal one as well.
Date rape: A rapist slips a pill into a lady’s drink and the pill dissolves in it, invisible. A moment after consuming the drink, the effects start to kick in and the victim will enter a state of drowsiness. The rapist then takes advantage of her while she is sedated and commits rape. This is the typical modus operandi of a date rapist. They usually use GHB, Rohypnol and ketamine as these drugs have a sedative quality that can cause loss of muscle control. The need to lie down then sets in and when it is satisfied, the victims can remain asleep for 10 to 12 hours with no memory of what happened during that period after they wake up. This is the main reason why date rape can be so difficult to prove. There is no evidence left behind and the victim themselves do not remember the rapist. The assault might not even be discovered until some time later. By then, physical evidence left on their bodies are already washed off. The frustration and helplessness of the court and the victims is encapsulated in the writings of retired New York City police officer John DePresca:
How about a case where the victim tells you she knows a crime has been committed against her but can’t tell you who did it, where it happened, when it happened, how it happened or why it happened? Every investigator will be called to task when looking into a date rape drug. Rapists now have in their lurid arsenal more than a couple of methods to render their victims helpless.
This problem seems impossible to solve, but there is progress towards the right direction. For example, Hoffman-LaRoche, the manufacturer of Rohypnol, changed the form of the drug in 1997. Previously, the tablet is white. After the change, it is green and oblong, making it more obvious. It colours the solution it is dropped in blue, and takes longer to dissolve. It is hopeful that more solutions that approach the issue from different perspectives can be initiated and aid in the reduction of date rape crime rates.
Reckless driving: Reckless driving in respect to drug abuse means driving under the influence of drugs, or drugged driving. As drugs impair one’s motor skills, ability to judge distance and risk assessment, it can lead to serious traffic accidents on the road. This is proven by toxicologists in the 2000 U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conference in which studies of effects of drugs on the human body are carried out. The conclusion is that users of drugs should not drive. Below is an excerpt of their report for the Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
[MDMD] can enhance impulsivity and make it difficult for a person to maintain attention during complex tasks, … Laboratory studies have demonstrated changes in cognitive, perception and mental associations, instability, uncoordinated gait, and poor memory recall. Distortion of perception, thinking, and memory, impaired tracking ability, disorientation to time and place, and slow reactions are also known performance effects.
The effects of drugs such as ketamine (it sedates the user) are not compatible with driving and can seriously threaten the safety of the driver. The dangers of this problem are real: Studies also have shown that drugs are used by 10 to 22 percent of drivers involved in crashes, often in combination with alcohol. Marijuana has been identified as the most prevalent drug in driving under influence too. Furthermore, the average age of drugged drivers is low, with the most common group being teenagers. Surveys have revealed that nearly 7.3 percent of teenagers aged 16 or younger have driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol at least once in the past year. This explains the high rate of accident in driving under the influence of drugs, for teenagers have poorer driving skills with less experience, and they have a larger appetite for risk too. Thus, drug abuse can lead to societal issues such as increased traffic accidents.
Percentages of Persons Aged 12 or Older Reporting Driving Under the Influence of Illegal Drugs in the Past Year, by Detailed Age Categories: 2002 (http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k3/DrugDriving/DrugDriving.htm)
A Serious Problem:
The issues mentioned above are simply the tip of the icebergs of the destruction that drugs can cause to a society. Beside these problems, there are plenty of other drug related crimes such as homicide, theft, underage sex, assault and fraud. Although drugs might not be the only factor leading to these criminals breaking the law, it has been proven that drug-influenced users are more likely to commit criminal offences than nonusers. For instance, in a survey conducted by Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) Program, 0.9% of arrestees who were charged with aggravated assault were drug users, while only 0.2% were nonusers. The complete result is in the table below.
Table 1. Percentage of past year illicit drug and alcohol users and nonusers reporting having been arrested and booked for breaking a law, 1997*
Illicit drug use in past year?/font>
Drunk 51 or more days in past year
In past year arrested and booked for (unweighted N):
Larceny or theft
Burglary or breaking and entering
Motor vehicle theft
Driving under the influence
Drunkenness or liquor law violation
Possession or sale of drugs
* Due to improved procedures implemented in 1994, these estimates are not comparable with those presented in NHSDA Main Findings prior to 1994.
?"Illicit drug use" indicates use of marijuana or hashish, cocaine (including crack), inhalants, hallucinogens (including PCP and LSD), or heroin or nonmedical use of psychotherapeutics at least once.
?Low precision; no estimate reported.
Source: HHS, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Main Findings 1997.
Drug abuse also impairs productivity in the society, resulting in economic losses. It is calculated in the number of lost working days and earnings. Beside costs borne by the drug user and his or her family, economic losses caused by drugs abuse extends globally too. The drug trade is a multi-billion black market industry that is so widespread that it is nearly impossible to stop completely. However, enforcement of drug laws is still necessary to prevent the situation from worsening, and this enforcement is costing governments worldwide a hefty sum of taxpayers’ money annually. Simply the Drug Enforcement Administration which coordinates and pursues U.S. drug investigation alone has an annual budget of USD $2.415 billion. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “the latest estimate for the costs to society of illicit drug abuse alone is $181 billion (2002). When combined with alcohol and tobacco costs, they exceed $500 billion including healthcare, criminal justice, and lost productivity.” Therefore, the drug enforcement of drug laws and healthcare to manage this issue is a huge burden on the society and a liability to the national funds. Drug, thus, is a problem of high severity that can slow down rich nations, cripple poor countries and disrupt social stability globally.
Marcovitz, Hal. Club Drugs. Stockton: OTTN, 2006.
Rees, Jonathan. World Issues Drugs. UK: Roger Coote, 2002.
"Drugged Driving." NIDA InfoFacts. Oct. 2007. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 9 Feb. 2008 <http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/driving.html>.
"Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstasy)." Drugs and Human Performance Factsheet. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 9 Feb. 2008 <http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/research/job185drugs/
"Drug-Related Crime." Drug Information Clearinghouse Factsheet. Mar. 2000. Office of National Drug Control Policy. 9 Feb. 2008 <http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/crime/index.html>.