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Narcotics and Crime: An Analysis of Existing Evidence for a Causal Relationship

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1985
24 pages
The research literature examining criminality and narcotics addiction was reviewed, with emphasis on findings concerning a causal relationship and its characteristics.
The analysis focused on studies published after 1960 and on existing literature reviews of the field. It also attempted to combine qualitatively distinct lines of research into a common conclusion. The review indicated that studies of behavior before and after addiction revealed increases in property crime contiguous with the onset of addiction and that the first arrest generally preceded addiction. In addition, studies comparing behavior before and during treatment or behavior during and after treatment revealed relative decreases in property crimes during methadone maintenance. Moreover, property crime increased monotonically with the level or intensity of narcotics use throughout the addiction career when analyzed in aggregate form. Findings indicated that although a substantial number of addicts commit crimes before addiction, addiction is currently a crime cause in the United States and that narcotics use levels are the most direct and plausible explanation for the high aggregate levels of property crime committed by research participants during addiction. Figures and 106 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1985