The correlation of drugs and drug-using behavior is linked to crime in several fashions. Most directly, it is a crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs classified as illegal. Illegal drug sales is also accompanied by violence, which leads to deadlier crimes. Violence against rival traffickers influences each of us daily. More broadly, drugs bear about drug-related behavior. The generation of violence was the result of the effects of drugs. The abuser may be engaging in criminal activities in order to obtain money for the drugs. Drugs also cause individuals to become more violent, aggressive and sexually aroused (which may lead into rape) while under the influence of drugs. In 1996 the National Center on Addition and Substance Abuse (CASA) estimated that of the $38 billion in correctional expenditures; more than $30 billion was spent incarcerating individuals who had a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse. Those who were convicted of drug and/or alcohol violations, were high on drugs and/or alcohol at the time of their crime, or committed their crime to get money to buy drugs. Substance abuse and addiction have fundamentally changed the nature of America’s prison population. State prisons, federal prisons, and local jails are bursting at the bars with alcohol and drug abusers and addicts and those who sell illegal drugs. In America, crime, drugs, and substance abuse are joined at the hip. The chemical dependent is most effected by drugs. The penal system has implement several programs in order to keep substance abusers/ chemical dependents from relapsing. Such programs will identify the offenders/chemical dependent, assess their treatment and training needs, separate them from criminal incorrigibles and give them the hand up they need to become productive and responsible citizens. Treatment for chemical dependency educates the person that it is their biochemical reaction to the toxins, which causes the loss of control, similar to an allergy. Emphasis is placed on rebuilding self-esteem, increasing awareness of feelings, and making lifestyle changes to obtain more lasting and more satisfying happiness without chemicals. The most important message of treatment is the comfort and safety felt within a group of people who share in the same struggle. By doing so crime will be reduced. Reducing alcohol and drug abuse and addiction is the key to the major reduction in crime and the prison population.
Chemical Dependency (alcoholism and drug addiction) part I.
Chemical Dependency is the compulsively repetitive conversion of brain chemistry. This alteration is achieved by means of a toxin (drug or alcohol). The alteration is accomplished in order to produce temporary relief from frustration, grief, or pain quickly without changing the thoughts or behavior that cause these negative feelings.
There are several characteristics of the chemically dependent/ drug abuser. Chemically dependent people typically have low self-esteem; they are lacking coping skills, and social skills. The drug abuser more often come from abusive, chemically dependent, and dysfunctional family systems. They appear to be bored, confused, lonely, depressed, and angry. Although they feel guilty about their loss of control over their using and their behavior, thoughts, and feelings; the chemical dependent tend to blame others or external circumstances. The drug abuser will deny that they have a problem.
Chemical dependency is labeled as a disease. Although there is no know cure. Chemical dependency is a treatable disease. This disease can be held in remission through a basic lifestyle change (i.e. not associating with drug abusers). The tendency to relapse is always present. The degree of dependency on chemicals always increases, even when the person is not using. Drug abuse can be fatal if allowed to progress.
Chemical dependency is generally defined as the use of a drug with such frequency that the abuser has physical or mental harm or it impairs social abilities. There are three basic characteristics that indicate that an individual is dependent on a drug. First, the abuser continues to use the drug for an extended period of time. Second, the abuser finds it difficult to stop using the drug. They may drop out of school, steal, go to jail, lose their jobs, or leave their families in order to keep using. Finally, the abuser has withdrawal symptoms when drug use is stopped. They may undergo physical pain or mental distress. The drug mimics a natural process in the brain called neurotransmission. This is when a brain cell releases a signal to another brain cell. The signal then returns to the first brain cell. The signal is called a neurotransmitter. One major neurotransmitter is called dopamine, which is involved in feelings of pleasure. When the drug is released into the brain, it blocks the dopamine from returning to the first brain cell. Repeated use changes the brain cells so that normal messages can’t be sent between brain cells. The drug must always be present in order for neurotransmissions to take place. The abuser is only able to feel pleasure from the cocaine rather than the things he/she used to find pleasurable. Hence we have drug addiction or chemical/drug dependency.
Psychoactive drugs those drugs that influence or alter the workings of the mind, affect moods, emotions, feelings, and thinking processes. There are four categories of psychoactive drugs. These categories are hallucinogens or psychedelics, stimulants, opiate narcotics, and sedative- hypnotic chemicals. These groups are then categorized into two groups, stimulants and depressants. Stimulants are drugs that speed up signals through the nervous system. They produce alertness, arousal and excitability. They also inhibit fatigue and sleep. They include the amphetamines, such as cocaine, caffeine, and nicotine. Depressants slow down the signals through the nervous system. They produce relaxation, lowering of anxiety, drowsiness, and sleep. They include sedatives (such as barbiturates, alcohol, and tranquilizers) and narcotics (heroin, morphine, opium, codeine), which dull the mind’s perception of pain. Some drugs are not included in the stimulant/depressant categories. An example is the hallucinogens, such as PCP and LSD, which produce unusual mental states such as psychedelic visions.
There are four stages that the drug abuser will experience. In the first stage, the drug abuser will experience no superficial behavioral changes caused by the use of drugs. The drug use is considered normal. In the second stage, the abuser actively seeks the euphoric effects of the drug by using it more frequently. A reliable source of the drug is established. The abuser may add mid-week use rather than only on weekends or at parties. In younger abusers, a general lack of motivation is noticed, along with changes in friends and lower grades. In the third stage, the abuser is extremely preoccupied with the desire to experience the effects of the drug. The drug is used daily. There may be thoughts of suicide and/or depression. There may be family problems or trouble with the law. In the fourth and final stage, the abuser has become addicted. They are dependent on the drug just to feel normal.
Crimes and Physical Signs of Drug Abuse
There are physical signs related to drug use. Some of the physical signs associated to drug use are frequent sore throats, coughing, fatigue, and weight loss. They may be experiencing overdosing and blackouts more frequently. A drug addict may also contract disease such as sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and HIV.
Alcohol one major drug that physically effects the abuser is alcohol. It causes damage to the brain, pancreas, and kidney. It also causes high blood pressure and may heighten the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Other consequences of alcohol abuse are possible alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, stomach and duodenal ulcers, colitis, irritable colon, impotence and infertility, birth defects and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (retardation, low birth weight, small head size, limb abnormalities), and premature aging. The abuser may also experience diminished immunity to disease, sleep disturbances, muscle cramps, and edema. While under the influence of alcohol, a person may exhibit more aggressive and violent behavior. This can lead to criminal acts. The most common cause of death and violence is alcohol. Studies have shown that the number one cause of crime is alcohol and half of all offenders who committed a violent crime were under the influence of alcohol.
One of the most widely used drugs is marijuana. Marijuana is an extremely harmful drug. This is especially because the potency of marijuana available has over the last decade increased by 275 percent. Some marijuana abusers have chronic lung disease. Many people do not realize that marijuana is more dangerous than cigarettes. There are more known cancer causing agents/toxins in marijuana smoke than cigarette smoke. One marijuana cigarette is as damaging to the lungs as four tobacco cigarettes. Small doses of marijuana diminish motor skills, hamper judgment, distort perception, and impair memory function. Chronic marijuana may cause brain damage, accelerated heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Mood changes occur. There is a decline in school work, difficulty in concentrating, diminished ability to carry out long-term plans, loss of effectiveness, loss of ambition, and increased apathy. Although, there is no substantiation that marijuana is not habitual to the point to where the user may steal in order to obtain money for the purchase of marijuana. Studies have shown that there is no clear evidence that attributes marijuana to violent or property crimes. Actually, there is confirmation, which shows that marijuana causes the user to be not as violent while under the influence, than user of any other drug.
Cocaine one of the most powerfully addictive and deadly drugs is cocaine. It can be injected, snorted, or smoked. It carries the risk of HIV if it is injected. Cocaine significantly speeds up the neurotransmissions in the nervous system. It accelerates the heart rate while simultaneously constricting the blood vessels, which are trying to adjust to the heightened blood flow. Temperature and blood pressure rise. Pupils dilate. A stroke, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, or seizures may accompany the physical changes induced by the use of cocaine. Cocaine may trigger paranoia, anxiety, irritability, and restlessness. Depression occurs when denied of the drug. Cocaine requires abusers to take more and more to reach the same level of stimulation. It may also cause nasal problems such as congestion and runny nose. The mucous membrane in the nose may disintegrate with prolonged usage. The nasal septum may also collapse. Different kinds of cocaine include free-base and crack. Free-base is smoked. It is extremely dangerous because the cocaine reaches the brain almost instantly, causing a sudden and intense high. However, when it disappears, it leaves the abuser with an enormous craving, resulting in increased usage. Crack is a kind of cocaine that is snorted. It comes in small lumps or shavings. It has become a major problem because it is very inexpensive and easily transported. While under the influence of Cocaine. The drug addict may become more violent. Like marijuana there is no evidence which links cocaine use to crime. However, cocaine users have a history of either being involved in the sale of drugs, the use of drugs, crime not related to drugs, or any combination of the three. Evidence has also show that there is a relationship between cocaine users and the variety of illegal dealings.
Heroin is an illegal opiate drug, which is extremely addictive. It requires persistent, repeated use and, if the abuser attempts to stop, there are painful physical withdrawal symptoms. Heroin use causes insomnia, panic, nausea, and shallow breathing. Heroin is generally injected into a vein. Because of this kind of drug entry, the risk of contracting diseases such as HIV is high. Contamination of heroin with cutting agents, equipment that is not sterile, uncertain dosage levels and the use of heroin in addition to other drugs can cause cardiac disease, inflammation of the veins, skin abscesses and serum hepatitis. There is no way to tell the potency of the drug, so any trip could lead to overdose coma or possible death. Heroin during pregnancy is associated with miscarriages and stillbirths. Babies who are born by addicted mothers must undergo withdrawal symptoms after birth and usually have development problems. Symptoms include nausea, respiratory depression (which can progress until breathing stops), and drowsiness. Symptoms of a heroin overdose include coma, convulsions, clammy skin, pinpoint pupils, and shallow breathing. Heroin is the most commonly used drug related to crime. Heroine addicts are not generally violent. Heroine addicts generally commit money-producing crimes. Heroine addicts often are seeking funds, by any means in order to obtain another fix.
PCP is a hallucinogen. It alters consciousness, mood, and sensation and distorts visual sensation, taste, smell, touch, or hearing. The abuser experiences a profound departure from reality. He/she is capable of severe disorientation and bizarre behavior. These PCP-induced effects may lead to injuries or death while under the influence. When it is used regularly or chronically, judgment, concentration, perception functions, and memory are affected. It may lead to permanent changes in thinking, memory, and motor skills. Addicted mothers deliver babies who have motor, auditory, and visual problems. They may also have reactions similar to that of someone who is under the influence of PCP. People, who are chemically dependent of PCP, are usually committing crimes that generate funds. These crimes are generally not committed to support their habit. PCP is the most commonly drug used among the correctional population.
The last physical change resulting form drug use is withdrawal. Withdrawal stems from the discontinuance of administration of a drug. When withdrawal transpires, there are certain physical symptoms that occur when the abuser is dependent on the drug. The physical symptoms the chemical dependent may have are nausea, diarrhea, and pain, but they vary between drugs. Cocaine abusers report depression when denied the drug. Since heroin is a very addictive drug, it has many withdrawal symptoms. Example are, insomnia, muscle cramps, nausea, sweating, chills, panic, tremors, loss of appetite, yawning, runny nose, and watery eyes.
Many inmates participate in outpatient drug treatment, which includes a range of protocols, from highly professional psychotherapy to informal peer discussions. Counseling services vary considerably and include individual, group, or family counseling; peer group support; vocational therapy; and cognitive therapy. Aftercare, considered necessary to prevent relapse, typically consists of 12-step meetings, periodic group or individual counseling, recovery training or self-help and relapse prevention strategies, and/or vocational counseling. For those needing more intensive rehabilitative services during the transition or aftercare phase, residential treatment is sometimes provided. Many inmates in the judicial system are offer alternatives to their drug problem. Those who utilize these alternatives do so that they may not have to serve jail time. One such organization that offers this type of program is the Behavioral Health Service Inc. The Behavior Health Services Inc. offer this type of structure at the Pacifica House.
Behavioral Health Services Inc. is an establishment that provides a compreshensive, system of healthcare programs and community education which enhance the prevention and rehabilitation of conditions that reduce the individual to live to the fullest extent. The Behavioral Health Services, Inc. has prided provided a continuum of substance abuse treatment services, which meets the needs of most chemically dependent patients, since 1973. The Behavioral Health Services, Inc. programs are based on the philosophy that recovery from addiction is a life long process. Their services are based on abstinence, 12-step involvement, and family participation and relapse prevention.
Pacifica House (Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program)
The Behavioral Health Services Inc. has several treatment centers. One of which is called the Pacifica House. The Pacifica House is located in Hawthorne California. This treatment center services chemically dependent men and women. The men and women who enter the program are sometime mandated by the court to enter the program.
The Pacifica House is a residential coed drug and alcohol abuse treatment program. The Pacifica House offers long term and short term treatment services for the chemical dependent individual. The length of stay is dependent upon the individual. The Pacifica House is funded by the Los Angeles County Department of health Services, Alcohol and Drug Programs Administration.
Services offered by the Pacifica House are in a structured environment. Participants are offered comprehensive treatment services including individualized treatment planning, educational groups, individual and group counseling. The services are available in Spanish and English. The Pacifica House accepts men and women 18 years of age and older. The individual must be detoxified and capable of self-care upon entering the program. Once accepted the individual will be assessed. Individual are able to participate in a wide variety of programs. Programs such as family counseling, dual diagnose groups, relapse prevention, urinalysis/ drug screen testing, referral to community services (i.e. job placement), HIV/AIDS education, aftercare, 12 step groups and alumni services.
For several decades, drug use has shaped the criminal justice system. Drug and drug-related offenses are the most common crime in nearly every community. Drug offenders move through the criminal justice system in a predictable pattern: arrest, prosecution, conviction, and incarceration, release. In a few days, weeks, or months, the same person may be picked up on a new charge and the process begins again. Studies have shown successes for inmates in treatment programs. This proves the need to attack drug crime with treatment programs. The results say loud and clear that intensive, institutional drug treatment, when followed by structured transitional support and supervision, makes our communities safer and gives offenders a real opportunity to turn their lives around. It is extremely a difficult and complex to prove that crimes that are caused by the drug user, are caused because of the drug use. The drug user may be prone to a life of crime regardless of the drugs, however the drug use only enhances the individuals unfortunate and terrible situation. What is most important is through the proper drug treatment a drug offender can become a productive, positive member of society.
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3. Field, G. Oregon prison drug treatment programs. In C. Leukefeld and F. Tims (eds.), Chemical dependency Treatment in Prisons and Jails. Research monograph series #108. Rockville, MD: National Institute on Chemical dependency, 1992. Wexler, H.,
4. Falkin, G., and Lipton, D. Outcome evaluation of a prison therapeutic community for substance abuse treatment. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 17, pp 71-92, 1990.
5. Administrator of the Pacifica House; Ron Simmions