, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 95-109

Chronic Drug Use and Crime

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This paper used bivariate and multivariate analyses to estimate the relationships between chronic drug use and various measures of criminal activity. The data for these analyses were derived from the 1993 (1) and 1995 (2) National Household Surveys on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). Measures of criminal justice system contact and criminal activity included ever arrested, arrested during the previous year, commission of a predatory crime (e.g., assault, fighting) during the previous year, and commission of a property crime (e.g., theft, property damage, car theft, breaking and entering) during the previous year. The analysis was conducted separately for males, females, and age groups, and it distinguished between chronic drug users, nonchronic drug users, and nondrug users. The results consistently showed a significant linear relationship between criminal activity and frequency of drug use. These findings have implications regarding the potential reduction in predatory and property crime that could occur from a decrease in drug use. Significant differences in criminal behavior between chronic drug users and other cohorts may signal a critical need to develop targeted interventions for this particular type of drug user.