Drug Addiction and Crime
The epidemic of substance abuse in young generation has assumed alarming
dimensions in India. Changing cultural values, increasing economic stress and
dwindling supportive bonds are leading to initiation into substance use.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) substance abuse is persistent
or sporadic drug use inconsistent with or unrelated to acceptable medical
The picture is grim if the world statistics on the drugs scenario is taken into
account. With a turnover of around $500 billions, it is the third largest
business in the world, next to petroleum and arms trade. About 190 million
people all over the world consume one drug or the other.
Today, there is no part of the world that is free from the curse of drug
trafficking and drug addiction. Millions of drug addicts, all over the world,
are leading miserable lives, between life and death. India too is caught in this
vicious circle of drug abuse, and the numbers of drug addicts are increasing day
According to a UN report, One million heroin addicts are registered in India,
and unofficially there are as many as five million. What started off as casual
use among a minuscule population of high-income group youth in the metro has
permeated to all sections of society. Inhalation of heroin alone has given way
to intravenous drug use, that too in combination with other sedatives and
This has increased the intensity of the effect, hastened the process of
addiction and complicated the process of recovery. Cannabis, heroin, and
Indian-produced pharmaceutical drugs are the most frequently abused drugs in
India. Cannabis products, often called charas, bhang, or ganja, are abused
throughout the country because it has attained some amount of religious sanctity
because of its association with some Hindu deities.
Drug Addiction and Crime:Drug addiction causes immense human distress and the illegal production and
distribution of drugs have spawned crime and violence worldwide. Drug abuse is a
complex phenomenon, which has various social, cultural, biological,
geographical, historical and economic aspects.
Drug abuse has led to a detrimental impact on the society. It has led to
increase in the crime rate. Addicts resort to crime to pay for their drugs.
Drugs remove inhibition and impair judgment egging one on to commit offences.
Incidences of teasing, group clashes, assault and impulsive murders increase
with drug abuse. Apart from affecting the financial stability, addiction
increases conflicts and causes untold emotional pain for every member of the
Narcotic addiction and the criminality of addicts have become a major social
problem. Recent studies have reported that narcotic addicts are frequently
involved in criminal behaviour on a daily basis and that, consequently, some of
them commit thousands of offenses per individual during their addiction careers.
Furthermore, it is now apparent that the magnitude of the crime problem
associated with narcotic addiction is not only attributable to the frequency
with which addicts commit 'victimless' crimes and lesser offenses, but
also to the fact that many of their offenses are serious and destructive. The
problem seems more and more intractable as the addiction subculture becomes
increasingly embedded in society.
Narcotic addicts have not always behaved as they do today. There have been
shifts and changes in patterns and characteristics. For the most part, addicts
during the 1950's commonly met their need for money to buy heroin by committing
petty crimes, non-violent in nature, usually crimes against property rather than
against persons. Criminality often took the form of petty larceny, such as
shoplifting, burglary, stealing on the job, stealing from cars, as well as 'con-games'.
These activities were often learned by younger 'beginner' addicts from older
ones and were perceived to require skill. Individuals became specialists in
specific kinds of crimes. In the 1960's, a trend began toward crimes involving
violence, e.g. armed robbery, auto larceny, 'yoking', mugging, purse-snatching,
In the 1970's, prostitution, which for many years had been a source of income
for many female addicts, became more open, cheaper, and less discriminant. From
the late 1970's to the present, crimes have been characterized by violence, lack
of skill, and use of firearms, refiecting, according to some observers, a
reaction to the increase in price and decrease in quality of drugs. Recent
research suggests that arrested narcotic drug users are now just as violent as
other arrestees, if not more so. Also, studies of career criminals have found
that the majority of the most violent were heroin users with high-cost heroin
Over the years, it has become increasingly apparent that narcotic addicts as a
group commit a great deal of crime by any absolute standard. Furthermore, the
amount of crime committed during periods of non-addiction is considerably less
than the amount committed during periods of active addiction. In addition, there
are huge variations in the amounts and types of crime committed by various
subgroups of the addict population.
The relationship between drugs and crime is complex. Most directly, it is a
crime to buy, use, possess, manufacture, or distribute illegal drugs (such as
cocaine, heroin, and marijuana). The misuse of legal substances may also be
connected to crime. For example, prescription drug abuse may be associated with
a variety of crimes such as prescription forgery, illegal internet pharmacies,
and drug theft. Drugs also impact crime indirectly via the effects they have on
users’ behaviour and by their association with violence and other illegal
activity in connection with their manufacture, distribution, acquisition or
CASE: Chandru @ Chandrasekaran vs. The State (2010) [Madras High Court]
In this case the two accused and the victim were drug addicts. The accused
injected the victim with illicit drugs due to which the victim died. Looking at
the facts and circumstances of the case the court came to a conclusion that the
two accused had criminally conspired to cause death of the victim and hence
upheld the judgment of the trial court convicting them under sections 302 and
120B of IPC.
A promising approach to the problem of drug dependency and crime would be to
concentrate on the use of a combination of methods for the treatment of
addiction. Court-directed treatment has been shown to be effective, especially
with drug monitoring and close surveillance in a clinical setting. In terms of
priority, perhaps the most pressing objective from the standpoint of the welfare
of society would be the selective control over the aberrant behaviour of the
most violent and the heavily involved, criminally active drug
abusers-unfortunately, the tatter are often especially skilled at avoiding
Thus, it is important that when members of either of these subgroups are
identified, legal authorities pay particular attention to their disposition and
follow-up. While they are under treatment, legal pressure should be continued
and their drug-taking and patterns of antisocial behaviour closely monitored and
contained, when necessary.
Clearly, there are different types of addicts and different pathways to
addiction and crime. Effective strategies for dealing with the problem of drugs
and crime may well depend on recognition of this diversity and in tailoring
countermeasures, both judicial and therapeutic, to individual requirements.
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