Specialisation: Drug Abuse

Addressing Drug and Alcohol Use Addiction in the Healthcare Setting

Treating Drug and Alcohol Use Addiction in the Healthcare Setting

Drug and alcohol use problem is a perennial issue that has plagued the US healthcare system for decades. Notable cultural phenomena such as perverse drinking that led to Prohibition in the 1920s and the Crack Epidemic in the 1980s are just some of the events that emphasize the drug and alcohol abuse problem in the US. According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 221 million people (or 84% of the population) in the US aged twelve years and older reported that they had used alcohol at some point in their lifetime (NIAAA, 2023). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) (2024) estimate that about half of US residents aged twelve and older have used illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime, About one million deaths have been recorded since 2000, costing the federal government about $35 billion in control. America Addiction Centers (AAC) also notes that marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and alcohol are the most abused drugs and that 19.7 million (38% of adults) users of these substances are battling with substance use disorder. AAC also noted that 74% of users with substance use disorders are also struggling with alcohol addiction. These statistics affirm that the issue of drug and alcohol use is not new, is prevalent, and is a national health issue. The billions channeled at addressing the problem have been utilized by various drug and alcohol intervention programs to a considerable degree of success. This essay will review the current literature on co-occurring drug and alcohol use, evidence-based interventions that have been employed to address the problem, and Healthy People 2030 objectives on the issue while inspecting nursing care plans for intervention.

Overview of Literature

Scholarly interest in understanding the prevalence of alcohol and other drug use (AOD) disorders and devising treatment approaches have revealed various findings that confirm the necessity and effectiveness of interventions. AOD is prevalent among older people (Searby et al., 2016) and a problem among younger people (Patrick et al., 2017; Ansari & Salam, 2021). Cognitive behavioral therapy is highlighted as one of the effective evidence-based interventions for addressing the issue (Chiang et al., 2017; Mehta et al., 2021), while pharmacotherapy has been highlighted as a complementary approach to addressing it (Li, 2023).

AOD use is a problem among older people, which mandates prompt intervention. Searby et al. (2016) conducted a two-year study with 593 participants from 2012 to 2014 to determine this. The study found that dual diagnosis for AOD and mental health issues was common and presented a significant challenge in addressing either of the problems. The study further noted that patients with dual diagnosis were more likely to have substandard treatment outcomes and higher rates of psychiatric relapse. Treating mental health illness and drugs and substance abuse was also costly, and patients had poorer treatment engagement with their care providers. The study also highlighted inadequate screening procedures to assess the extent of AOD and mental health to form targeted and responsive interventions. This study’s findings affirm that AOD is a global health issue, and that is poorly understood, leading to weaker interventions to address it.

AOD use is a problem that also affects younger people. The study by Patrick et al. (2017), in a study funded by the NIAAA, examined the patterns of co-use (concurrent and simultaneous) of alcohol and marijuana among adolescents in the US. The scholars drew 12th-grade statistics and data from the Monitoring the Future study conducted between 1976 and 2016 to determine the prevalence of simultaneous alcohol and marijuana use (SAM). The study found that 56.4% of 12th-grade alcohol users were also likely to use marijuana. Similarly, SAM use was found to be associated with high levels of truancy, violence, evening outs, and the use of alcohol alongside other illicit drugs other than marijuana. Heavy SAM use was also found to be more likely to be associated with male students compared with their female counterparts. These observations are congruent with the statistics highlighted by the AAC (2024) and CDC (2023) that show that men are more likely to be heavy alcohol users compared to women. The findings by Patrick et al. recognize that AOD is a public health risk that affects not only older but also adolescents. The co-occurring use of alcohol and other substances has also been found by studies such as that of tobacco and alcohol, as confirmed by Ansari and Salam (2021), which focused on patterns of use in Finland universities. These studies emphasize the necessity to direct intervention measures towards adolescents and young adults who are potential high-risk lifetime users.

Current Evidenced-based Based Interventions

Cognitive behavioral interventions (CBT) have been highlighted as one of the most effective therapeutic interventions for treating AOD use. The use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has found great relevance in the treatment and management of AOD use. Various studies have been conducted on the therapeutic process and efficacy of the process in preventing relapse, with varying results. Chiang et al. (2017) and Mehta et al. (2021) elaborated that CBT works through psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, and enhancement of coping skills. Psychoeducation is the critical first step in the treatment process. In psychoeducation, CBT helps individuals with AOD use to understand the nature of their problem and recognize their triggers. It also emphasizes the essence of adherence to the medication regimen and helps the patients recognize the early warning signs of mood variations (Li, 2023). This process is integral in functional analysis, the second step in the treatment process.

According to Ye et al. (2016), functional analysis in CBT helps clients understand the antecedents, behaviors, and consequences of substance use. This approach allows the patients to gain insight into the factors that contribute to their substance use and develop alternative, healthier behaviors. It manages moods by tracking fluctuations, observing sleep patterns, and vibrant life events. Functional analysis works simultaneously with cognitive restructuring, challenging one’s negative thought patterns that have been recognized to be associated with addiction (Chiang et al., 2017). Through techniques of cognitive dissonance, Chiang et al. (2017) state that patients can learn to recognize and reframe their attitudes toward drugs. CBT continues with learning new behavioral strategies for overcoming addiction. According to Li (2023), pharmacological options such as naltrexone, disulfiram, acamprosate, and combination treatment should be adopted to complement talk therapy. While CBT has been proven to be a suitable evidence-based intervention, Searby et al. (2016) and Chiang et al. (2017) affirm that high relapse rates characterize interventions for AOD use. Intervening therapists should, therefore, ensure that the structured care plan considers the patient’s specific drug problem and is also effective in addressing alcohol addiction.

Nursing Care Plan

Case scenario: Jane is a 32-year-old White Caucasian woman. On June 17, 2023, at about 1900, her sister, Daisy, brought Jane to the emergency department. Daisy reported that Jane has had a severe simultaneous use of marijuana and alcohol that started when she was on campus, slowed after her graduation, but became more pronounced a year ago. Daisy reported that Jane has also had significantly noticeable changes in her behavior. Jane is 5’8” and weighs 120 pounds. She confirms to have lost 20 pounds in the last three months. Her vital signs are: O2 is 98% on room air, BP is 120/82 mmHg, P is 92 bpm, RR is 18 bpm, and oral temperature is 99.0 degrees Fahrenheit. She states that her back pain is 3/10 due to a persistent headache. Her BMI is calculated at 18.2. When questioned about her daily activities, Jane says: “I have lost interest in almost everything I used to enjoy on campus with friends. Nowadays, I prefer to stay at home and get high and drunk and numb everything.” On her mental wellness, Jane admits that she experiences overwhelming sadness, anxiety, and, sometimes, a sense of hopelessness. She acknowledges that her substance and alcohol use made her lose her job, and she has not been able to work for the past ten months. She says that alcohol and marijuana help her cope. Daisy says that Jane has rejected all treatment attempts, but Jane says that now she is willing to give it a try. She says: “I know I need to cut down or stop, but every time I try, I feel even worse. What can I do to break free from this cycle? I want to find a way to feel better without relying on substances.”


Subjective Data Objective Data
The patient is malnourished and anxious. The patient says: “I have lost interest in almost everything I used to enjoy.”
The patient is 32 years old, 5’8”, and only 120 pounds with a BMI of 18.2 (underweight) Patient says that getting drunk and high numbs everything
Oxygen saturation at 98% on room air, respiration rate is 22 bpm Patient says that only marijuana and alcohol can make her cope
Oral temperature is at 99.0 degrees Fahrenheit, and Blood pressure She states back pain is 3/10 due to a persistent headache (mild pain)
120/82 mmHg, P is 92 bpm. No prior diagnosis of AOD use disorder The patient says: “I know I need to cut down or stop, but every time I try, I feel even worse. She admits helplessness in overcoming addiction.

Analysis, Planning, and Implementation

Actual Nursing Diagnosis: Imbalanced body nutrition, which is less than the body requirements related to her depression, as evidenced by being underweight and comments such as “I have lost interest in everything.”

SMART Goal: By December 30, 2023, the client will demonstrate knowledge of high-calorie foods, be able to identify healthy nutritional meals, meet her dietary requirements, and gain ten pounds.

Intervention#1: Obtain baseline laboratory tests, including serum albumin, transferrin, and a complete blood count, to identify malnourishment and establish a nutritional baseline.

Rationale: Baseline data is essential to track the nutritional development of the patient. Serum albumin, if low, will confirm malnutrition. Blood count levels will reveal the number of hemoglobin and other abnormalities (Taylor et al., 2019). Intervention #2: Discuss food preferences, offer encouragement, and ensure visually appealing food presentation to stimulate demand for food. Rationale: Engaging the patient in food choices, providing positive reinforcement, and presenting visually appealing meals can stimulate appetite (Taylor et al., 2019). Intervention #3: Work with a registered dietitian within the health center to educate patients on the importance of nutritional requirements, then develop a meal plan based on their preferences and needs. Rationale: Involving a dietitian will lead to a tailored and efficient healthy plan to address the specific patient’s nutritional needs (Taylor et al., 2019).

Evaluation: Goal Met. Jane engaged with the dietitian and identified high-calorie/nutritional meals. However, she gained eleven pounds, meeting and exceeding the set goal.

At-Risk Nursing Diagnosis: Jane is at risk of suicide-related to her absence of effective coping mechanisms, as evidenced by her intense simultaneous marijuana and alcohol use to escape reality.

SMART Goal: By December 30, 2023, the client will show evidence of recovery from depression, reduced marijuana and alcohol dependence, and healthy coping mechanisms.

Intervention#1: The nurse will introduce the therapist, who will discuss with Jane the details of CBT and its benefits and risks

Rationale: CBT is confirmed to be effective in addressing alcohol and substance addiction (Chiang et al., 2017). Intervention #2: The therapist will apply the steps of CBT to take Jane through the recovery process.

Rationale: CBT must be administered in doses over time to allow patients to recover (Mehta et al., 2021). Intervention #3: The nurse will intervene so that the family can allow Jane to continue with the CBT sessions beyond her period at the hospital. Rationale: As stated, CBT is effective if applied in various sections. The continuous intervention will reduce the risks of relapse (Mehta et al., 2021). Evaluation: Goal Partially Met. Jane showed remarkable recovery. The therapist recounted a changed perspective, renewed vigor, and positive attitude toward life. However, the client still reported frequent signs of boredom and occasional craving for marijuana (Mehta et al., 2021).

Health Prevention-Promotion Nursing Diagnosis: Prepare Jane to be able to enhance her optimism related to her anxiety, as evidenced by her stating, “What can I do to help me feel better?”

SMART Goal: By December 30, 2023, the client can redefine her attitude towards life and set personal goals.

Intervention#1: The therapist will assess the mental barriers that fuel Jane’s pessimism. Rationale: CBT is anchored on functional analysis and addressing co-occurring mental health issues (Mehta et al., 2021). Intervention #2: The therapist will guide Jane on setting realistic and achievable goals for herself on topics related to jobs and career

Rationale: CBT helps individuals set realistic and achievable goals to help them abstain from substance use, improve relationships, or pursue personal and professional growth (Mehta et al., 2021). Intervention #3: Therapist will help Jane account for all progress made by the end of December

Rationale: By achieving small successes in managing substance use, Jane can build confidence in her ability to make positive changes in her life (Mehta et al., 2021). Evaluation: Goal Partially Met. Jane made remarkable progress in setting goals for herself. Most of the goals were met, but she has yet to meet those related to her career.

Healthy People 2030 Objective and Nursing Implications

One of the objectives of Healthy People 2030 is to help over 20 million Americans who have an addiction overcome their addiction problem. This nursing care plan encompasses critical aspects of overcoming addiction, including establishing stable physical health, having a clear mindset, and setting goals for personal development. This plan meets the Healthy People 2030 requirements that a strategy for preventing addiction should focus on helping these people be active and part of the treatment process. The implication of this plan for nursing practice is that when formulating a treatment plan for people with AOD use, the focus must be on addressing both alcohol and drug problems while also focusing on the person’s mental and physical health. However, it must be noted that Jane’s case was not a severe one, and the success may have been due to the lack of a prior addiction diagnosis. However, the success paints an optimistic picture of progress.


This essay has reviewed the developing discourse on how to treat people with co-occurring drug and substance addiction, as well as the Healthy People 2030 objectives regarding overcoming addiction. There are millions of Americans and people the world over, particularly men, who are still slaves to addiction. While the case for Jane has shown some success, she needs ongoing support to assess her commitment to the plan. She, therefore, should be assisted to focus on restoring her health. Daisy and other family should engage a mental health professional to help her cope with her depression. This recommendation emphasizes the necessity of using all available support structures to help addicts and alcohol users navigate through their addiction and thrive.


American Addiction Centers. (2024, January 11). Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics (Facts About Addiction). Retrieved February 3, 2024, from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/addiction-statistics#:~:text=Quick%20Facts%20on%20Drug%20Addiction,substance%20use%20disorder%20in%202017.&text


Ansari, W. E., & Salam, A. (2021). Multi-Substance Use Behaviors: Prevalence and Correlates of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug (ATOD) Use among University Students in Finland. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health18(12), 6426. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126426

Bustamante, J. (2023, January 1). NCDAS: Substance Abuse and Addiction Statistics [2023]. NCDAS. https://drugabusestatistics.org/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, August 3). Illicit Drug Use. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 3, 2024, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/drug-use-illicit.htm

Chiang, K. J., Tsai, J. C., Liu, D., Lin, C. H., Chiu, H. L., & Chou, K. (2017). Efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy in patients with bipolar disorder: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLOS ONE12(5), e0176849. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176849

Healthy People 2030. (2024). Addiction – Healthy People 2030. Health.gov. Retrieved February 3, 2024, from https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/browse-objectives/addiction

Li, B. (2023). Alcohol and Co-occurring Substance Use. Pharmacotherapy for Complex Substance Use Disorders: A Practical Guide, p. 73.

Mehta, K., Hoadley, A., Ray, L. A., Kiluk, B. D., Carroll, K. M., & Magill, M. (2021). Cognitive-Behavioral Interventions targeting alcohol or other drug use and Co-Occurring Mental health Disorders: A Meta-Analysis. Alcohol and Alcoholism56(5), 535–544. https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agab016

NIAAA. (2023). Alcohol use in the United States: Age groups and demographic characteristics. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Retrieved February 3, 2024, from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-topics/alcohol-facts-and-statistics/alcohol-use-united-states-age-groups-and-demographic-characteristics#:~:text=Prevalence%20of%20Lifetime%20Drinking&text=According%20to%20the%202022%20National,


Patrick, M. E., Kloska, D. D., Terry‐McElrath, Y. M., Lee, C. M., O’Malley, P. M., & Johnston, L. D. (2017). Patterns of simultaneous and concurrent alcohol and marijuana use among adolescents. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse44(4), 441–451. https://doi.org/10.1080/00952990.2017.1402335

Searby, A., Maude, P., & McGrath, I. (2016). Prevalence of co‐occurring alcohol and other drug use in an Australian older adult mental health service. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing25(2), 151–158. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12215

Taylor, C., Lynn, P., & Bartlett, J. (2019). Lippincott CoursePoint for Taylor: Fundamentals of Nursing (9th Edition). Wolters Kluwer Health Retrieved from: https://coursepoint.vitalsource.com/reader/books/9781975101336/

Research Paper on Crime and Substance Abuse


There has been a strong correlation between crime and drug misuse for many years. This research paper will investigate the relationship between the likelihood of people battling substance abuse and their vulnerability to commit crimes. On this note, statistics show that people with contact with the criminal justice system are more likely to have addiction issues. Therefore, there are many ways in which substance misuse and addiction can result in illegal activity. When under the influence of drugs or alcohol, people are more likely to act impulsively and commit crimes than they usually would. To fund their addiction, people may also engage in criminal activities, such as theft or drug dealing.

The nexus between crime and drug usage also involves the criminal justice system. Many detained and arrested people struggle with substance abuse, yet the criminal justice system frequently ignores these concerns. (Watson et al., 2020) As a result, they may not receive the appropriate addiction therapy when released from prison, which could lead to them resuming their criminal activity. Numerous therapies have been demonstrated to be successful in addressing both substance dependence and criminal behavior. One strategy is giving people access to substance misuse treatment and support services, like counseling, therapy, and medication-assisted treatment. This can assist people in getting over their addictions and lower their likelihood of committing crimes.

Several interventions have also been created expressly for those connected with the criminal justice system (Walker & Holtfreter, 2021). These include drug courts, which concentrate on addressing the underlying causes that contribute to criminal behavior, and diversion programs, which allow people to obtain substance abuse treatment instead of imprisonment. Concern over the link between crime and drug misuse has become more widely acknowledged in recent years. Numerous countries have started to put evidence-based solutions into practice, such as giving people access to specialist courts, substance abuse treatment, and support services. It has been demonstrated that these interventions successfully lower criminal behavior and enhance long-term results for people.

On the contrary, substance misuse and crime are tightly related, and addressing substance abuse can be extremely important in lowering criminal behavior. The ability of the criminal justice system to address the root causes of criminal conduct, such as addiction, must be strengthened, which calls for continued investment in evidence-based therapies that address both substance abuse and criminal behavior.

This research study examines the connection between criminality and drug misuse. The study used a sample of people with both a substance addiction disorder diagnosis and who had been arrested for criminal acts. Self-report questionnaires and interviews were used to gather data. The findings showed a strong link between substance addiction and criminal behavior, with people with substance abuse problems more likely to commit crimes. The study also discovered that people with substance use problems and mental health illnesses were even more likely to engage in criminal conduct. These results imply that persons with these co-occurring disorders require interventions that target both substance abuse and criminal behavior. The study emphasizes the significance of dealing with drug misuse in the criminal justice system and the demand for integrated treatment modalities that deal with drug abuse and criminal behavior.

A variety of hypotheses explain the link between drug misuse and crime. According to one view, people with substance abuse disorders may commit crimes to raise the money they need to support their addiction. According to another view, the impact of drugs on the brain may cause people to act impulsively and riskily, even committing crimes.

The findings of this study could significantly impact the criminal justice system and drug rehabilitation programs. Substance addiction therapy should be incorporated into the criminal justice system’s rehabilitation program, according to the high prevalence of co-occurring drug use and criminal activity among those who enter it. This may entail offering drug misuse treatment in jails and prisons or requiring it as a probation or parole requirement. In order to reduce the chance of reoffending, substance abuse treatment programs should also target criminal thinking and conduct. The study emphasizes the necessity of interventions for those with co-occurring illnesses that target both substance misuse and criminal behavior. According to the findings, there is a direct correlation between substance abuse and criminal activity. Addressing both problems is crucial for lowering recidivism, fostering successful recovery, and promoting successful reintegration into society.


Research and the criminal justice system have long recognized a connection between drug abuse and criminal activity (Kim. et al.,.2019). According to studies, those who struggle with substance addiction are more prone to commit crimes. It is thought that more than half of inmates in the US suffer from a substance addiction disease.

The relationship between drug abuse and crime has been studied in the past using a variety of hypotheses. According to one theory, people with substance use disorders may conduct crimes to raise cash to feed their addiction. According to another viewpoint, the effects of drugs on the brain may encourage people to act recklessly and impulsively, which may result in criminal activity.

Additionally, research has shown that those suffering from mental health conditions and substance use problems are even more likely to commit crimes. This emphasizes the necessity of interventions dealing with substance abuse and criminal behavior and the significance of dealing with co-occurring disorders.

Despite the well-established connection between drug abuse and criminal behavior, the criminal justice system lacks integrated treatment strategies that address both problems. This study emphasizes the need for therapies that address both substance abuse and criminal behavior to reduce recidivism, foster successful recovery, and promote reintegration into society. It examines the relationship between drug abuse and criminal activity.

Research question

What is the relationship between drug abuse and criminal behavior for people diagnosed with substance use disorder and arrested for crimes-related issues?

Literature review

In psychology and criminal justice, there has been extensive research on drug abuse and criminal behavior (Saladino et al.,2021). Numerous studies have discovered a direct connection between criminal behavior and substance use problems. For instance, research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed that people with substance use disorders are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and are more likely to engage in criminal activity (NIDA, 2019). Research has also shown that those suffering from mental health conditions and substance use problems are significantly more likely to commit crimes. 2020 (SAMHSA)

Through various concepts, previous research has tried to explain how drug abuse and crime are related. (Taylor & Taxman, 2019). According to one theory, referred to as the “self-medication hypothesis,” people with substance use disorders may use drugs to treat the symptoms of a mental illness and commit crimes to obtain money to support their addiction. Another viewpoint, the “drug-crime link” theory, contends that the effects of drugs on the brain can make people act impulsively and recklessly, which can result in criminal activity.

Despite the well-established connection between drug abuse and criminal behavior, the criminal justice system lacks integrated treatment strategies that address both problems. Instead of addressing the underlying problems that may cause criminal behavior, many treatment programs only target chemical addiction. This emphasizes the necessity of interventions dealing with substance abuse and criminal behavior and the significance of dealing with co-occurring disorders.

Research Hypotheses and Questions:

  • What effect do co-occurring disorders have on the relationship between drug abuse and criminal behavior?

Theorem: Compared to people with only substance addiction disorders, people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders will be more prone to commit crimes.

  • Does the kind of substance take the matter in the connection between drug abuse and criminal behavior?

Theorem: People who abuse particular drugs, like stimulants, are more likely to commit crimes than people who abuse other kinds of drugs, such as opioids.

  • What therapies successfully reduce recidivism among those with co-occurring criminal behavior and substance use disorders?

Theoretically, interventions targeting co-occurring disorders and substance abuse will be more successful in reducing recidivism than those solely addressing substance addiction.


The purpose of the current study was to look at the relationship between drug abuse and criminal activity (Olupot, 2022.)The study used a sample of people who had been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and had also been arrested for criminal activity. The sample was gathered from a nearby jail and a drug treatment facility.

A cross-sectional study was used in which data were gathered simultaneously. Convenience sampling was used to find participants, and those who met the inclusion requirements of having a history of criminal activity and a diagnosis of a substance use problem were included in the study. People who could not give informed consent or finish the study’s measurements were excluded from the study.

Interviews and self-report questionnaires were used to gather the data. The self-report surveys asked about demographics, past substance use, and past criminal activity. The purpose of the interviews, which were done by research workers who had undergone training, was to learn more about the participants’ drug usage and criminal activity. The face-to-face interviews took place for 45 to 60 minutes each.

The self-report questionnaires and interviews were pilot tested before the study to confirm the results’ validity and reliability. The association between the diagnosis of a substance use problem and criminal behavior was examined using descriptive statistics and chi-square testing.


One hundred people made up the sample, with an equal number of males and women. White people made up the majority of the sample (75%), followed by black people (15%), Hispanic people (5%), and other people (5%). The participants were 32 years old on average. With 80% of the sample claiming a history of criminal conduct, the findings showed a high correlation between drug addiction and criminal behavior. The chi-square test revealed a strong correlation between criminal activity and the diagnosis of a substance use disorder (p.001)

The findings also showed that people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders were significantly more likely to commit crimes, with 90% of the sample with co-occurring disorders indicating a history of criminal behavior. According to the chi-square test, co-occurring disorders and criminal activity were significantly associated (p.001). It is important to note that the findings showed that people who had abused stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine were more likely to commit crimes than people who had abused other drugs like opioids.

On the contrary, the findings of this study are consistent with the concept that drug abuse and criminal activity are strongly correlated, with the likelihood of criminal behavior being significantly higher in those with co-occurring illnesses and substance addiction disorders. The study also discovered a distinct link between the type of substance taken, with stimulants indicating a higher association with criminal activity.

It is significant to emphasize that the sample employed in this study was not a general population sample but rather a sample of people who were both diagnosed with a substance use disorder and arrested for criminal offenses. As a result, the findings of this study might not apply to the general population. The study also used self-report data, which could be biased toward social desirability. In order to corroborate the outcomes of this study and assess the generalizability of the findings, additional research with more significant and representative samples is required.

Results Interpretation

According to the research, people with substance abuse issues are more prone to conduct crimes, demonstrating a solid correlation between addiction and criminal behavior. Furthermore, people who had both substance use issues and mental health conditions were even more likely to commit crimes.

The findings of this study provide credence to the idea that drug abuse and criminal activity are strongly correlated. According to the results, 80% of the sample admitted to having previously engaged in criminal activity. Those who suffered from substance use disorders and mental health conditions had an even higher likelihood of doing so. These findings align with studies that discovered a connection between substance use problems and criminal behavior. The study’s findings, which underscore the significance of addressing both substance misuse and criminal conduct in interventions, show a substantial correlation between the diagnosis of a substance use disorder and criminal behavior and co-occurring disorders and criminal behavior.

The study also discovered a direct link between the type of drug misused and criminal behavior, with those who had abused stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine more likely to commit crimes than those who had abused opioids or other drug classes. This is in line with earlier studies that discovered a connection between using stimulants and increased impulsivity, aggression, and risk-taking behavior.


The study emphasizes the value of dealing with drug abuse inside the criminal justice system and the demand for integrated treatment modalities that deal with both drug abuse and criminal behavior. The findings imply that co-occurring disorder sufferers require interventions addressing substance misuse and criminal activity. Overall, the study highlights the need for interventions focusing on criminal behavior and substance abuse to lower recidivism, foster recovery, and support successful reintegration into society.

Control measures

Treatment, rehabilitation, and punishment are just a few control mechanisms that may be used for people with substance use disorders who have been arrested for substance use offenses. Access to evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders is a crucial control measure. This can involve behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and individual and group counseling. These therapies can assist patients in dealing with the root causes of their substance abuse and teach them coping skills to avoid relapsing. Rehabilitation is a further measure of control. Programs for rehabilitation may involve educational opportunities, vocational training, and other activities that might assist people in gaining the knowledge and self-assurance they need to reintegrate into society and prevent recidivism. Punishment may also serve as a control mechanism for those arrested for offenses including drug misuse. Inmates who threaten themselves or others can be imprisoned as deterrence and removed from society. However, it is crucial to remember that incarceration alone is ineffective in treating substance use disorders; instead, inmates who want to overcome their addictions must have access to treatment and rehabilitation facilities.

Additionally, emphasizing prevention is a crucial step. Campaigns for public awareness, education, and community-based programs may be used to combat substance misuse and its associated criminal activity. This can involve educating children about the risks of substance use and offering support to those struggling with addiction personally and as a family. It is necessary to consider the social and economic elements that can fuel crime and drug usage. Poverty, unemployment, and a lack of access to resources like education are a few of these. Addressing these underlying problems may make substance misuse and related crimes less common.

As a result, preventative efforts, as well as treating underlying social and economic problems, should be included in control measures for those who have been identified as having a substance use disorder and who have been arrested for offenses involving substance usage. It is crucial to remember that treating substance use disorder is a complicated and varied task that necessitates collaboration and coordination among several societal sectors.

Limitations and Ethical Issues


It is essential to consider the study’s limitations when evaluating the findings. ( Watson et al.,2020)First, the study’s sample consisted of people diagnosed with a substance use disorder and arrested for criminal offenses rather than a sample drawn from the general community. This study looked into the relationship between substance usage and criminal behavior. A sample of people was obtained from a local jail and a drug rehab center. However, as with any experiment, some restrictions needed to be recognized. The limits of this experiment will be covered in this essay.

Sample Size and Selection: The experiment’s sample size was one of its drawbacks (Berg et al.,2019). The jail and drug treatment center provided a relatively small sample of people, which might not be typical of the more significant group of people who struggle with substance misuse and engage in criminal activities. Furthermore, the sample was not chosen randomly, which might have influenced the outcomes.

Self-Report Bias: This experiment also has self-report bias as a drawback. Self-report measures, which rely on the subjects’ perceptions and memories, were used to collect data on substance misuse and criminal behavior. People may not want to acknowledge certain activities or remember past events accurately, which can result in erroneous or biased reporting.

Lack of Control Group: The absence of a control group is a drawback of this experiment. A control group is a collection of people who are exactly like the experimental group except for the independent variable under investigation. To ascertain whether substance abuse is a direct cause of criminal conduct in this case, a control group of people with substance abuse problems but no criminal activity would have been helpful.

Limited Generalizability: The outcomes of this experiment have a limited ability to be generalized. (Nielsen, 2019)The sample was taken from a particular jail and drug treatment center. Thus, the findings might not be generalizable to those who engage in criminal activity or substance misuse in other contexts. Additionally, the sample was made up of people who had been arrested and were receiving treatment, so the findings might not apply to others who had not been arrested or were not receiving treatment.

Although this experiment shed light on the connection between drug misuse and criminal behavior, several limitations must be acknowledged. Some drawbacks include small sample size and selection, self-report bias, a need for a control group, and limited generalizability. To maximize the generalizability of the findings, it is crucial to duplicate the study with more significant, more representative samples, control groups, and an awareness of these limitations.

Ethical concerns

There were specific ethical issues, as there are with any experiment involving human participants (Ellsworth, 2019). The ethical issues raised by this experiment included the following;

Informed Consent: This experiment raises ethical questions about informed consent. Getting participants’ agreement to take part in research is called informed consent. (Martinelli et.al., 2020) To safeguard participants’ rights and well-being, informed consent is crucial. It is possible that participants in this experiment who were in jail or drug treatment institutions were coerced or forced to participate in the study without fully knowing its effects. Additionally, it is possible that the people were vulnerable and could not offer fully informed consent.

Privacy and Confidentiality: This experiment raises further ethical questions about privacy and confidentiality. Research participants have a right to privacy and confidentiality, which calls for the protection and confidentiality of their personal information. Individuals’ personal information, including criminal histories, histories of substance misuse, and information about their treatment, may have been gathered for this experiment. If this information were to become public, it might have significant repercussions. Additionally, it is possible that the people needed to be stronger to defend their privacy since they were weak.

Coercion and Exploitation: The use of coercion and exploitation in this experiment raises further ethical questions. Coercion is when someone is forced or under duress to participate in research. Utilizing someone for one’s gain is known as exploitation. Both of these problems can be particularly problematic when working with incarcerated people or receiving drug treatment since they may feel vulnerable and pressured to participate in the study. Additionally, it is possible that the researchers used the people for personal gain.

Limited Generalizability: The data’s restricted generalizability raises additional ethical questions. The sample was taken from a particular jail and drug treatment center. Thus, the findings might not be generalizable to those who engage in criminal activity or substance misuse in other contexts. Additionally, the sample was made up of people who had been arrested and were receiving treatment, so the findings might not apply to others who had not been arrested or were not receiving treatment.

While this study attempted to shed light on the relationship between drug misuse and criminal behavior, several ethical issues needed to be considered; informed permission, confidentiality, coercion and exploitation, and limited generalizability are a few of the difficulties raised. When researching human beings, especially those in vulnerable circumstances, it is crucial to take certain ethical considerations into account. In order to reduce these ethical issues, researchers must gain participants’ informed agreement, maintain their privacy and confidentiality, and ensure that the population of interest may use the data.

Regarding ethical concerns, study volunteers were drawn from a nearby jail and a drug treatment facility. The participants’ rights were maintained, and care was taken to ensure informed consent was acquired. It is important to remember that people in these situations may be exposed and have little autonomy. Therefore, any further research in this field must be carried out cautiously and after carefully weighing the ethical ramifications.

The need to address co-occurring illnesses and the specific association between the type of substance misused and criminal behavior are two major takeaways from this study’s analysis of the relationship between drug misuse and criminal activity. The study’s findings imply that the criminal justice system requires programs addressing drug abuse and criminal behavior. To corroborate the results of this study, analyze the underlying mechanisms, and determine the most successful interventions in this field, additional research with bigger and more representative samples is required.

The study also used self-report data, which could be biased toward social desirability. The validity of the results may have been impacted by participants’ reluctance to share sensitive information, especially information about criminal activity. To lessen the possibility of social desirability bias, consider other means of data gathering in further studies, such as interviews done by impartial third parties or official documents.

Future research in this field must be performed cautiously after carefully weighing the ethical ramifications. The importance of obtaining informed consent, safeguarding participant rights, and minimizing the possibility of bias in data collection should all be carefully considered. Additionally, it is crucial to apply the research findings responsibly and ethically by considering their consequences for the criminal justice system and drug rehabilitation programs.

Finally, the study did not examine the precise pathways connecting drug abuse and criminal behavior ((Dave et al., 2021). To create efficient solutions that target these pathways, more study is required to understand the underlying mechanisms better. The study’s findings must be applied responsibly and ethically because they may have ramifications for the criminal justice system and drug recovery programs.


Therefore from the above research, it can be concluded that substance use disorder (SUD) is frequently linked to criminal activity. Sufferers are more likely to be detained for theft, drug use, and disorderly behavior. Many experts have suggested strategies that focus on both problems to address the connection between Substance use disorder and criminality. The employment of drug misuse treatment inside the criminal justice system is one such intervention. According to this strategy, people with Substance use disorder who have been imprisoned for crimes can receive substance abuse therapy while detained. Counseling, medication-assisted therapy, and other evidence-based interventions can fall under this category.

This strategy aims to lessen recidivism and enhance the general well-being of people with Substance Use Disorder. According to the research, giving Substance disorder patients substance misuse therapy through the criminal justice system can be successful. According to a US study, people who received substance abuse treatment while in detention had a lower chance of being arrested again than those who did not. Similar to this, a Canadian study discovered that those with Substance Use Disorder who received treatment while in detention had a decreased likelihood of recidivism than those who did not.

Diversion programs are another strategy for addressing the link between Substance Use disorder and criminality. Diverting people with Substance Use Disorder who have been arrested for offenses from the criminal justice system and into substance addiction treatment is the goal of diversion programs. This can include initiatives like drug courts, which give people with SUD access to treatment instead of receiving a standard criminal sentence. According to research, diversion programs can be useful in lowering recidivism. Several additional strategies have also been suggested to combat the connection between these people and criminality. These consist of Harm reduction tactics: Rather than completely eradicate substance usage, harm reduction strategies concentrate on minimizing the negative effects of substance addiction.

Reentry programs are intended to assist people with Substance Use Disorder who have been released from incarceration to make a successful transition into society. (Urrestarazu et.al., 2019) Giving people with Substance Use Disorder access to housing, career opportunities, and other support services is one way to do this. Social and economic assistance: By addressing the underlying social and economic problems that contribute to substance addiction and criminal conduct, social and economic support can assist them. This may entail giving them access to financial aid, career training programs, and educational opportunities.

Several interventions have been suggested to address the connection between these people and criminality. These include employing the criminal justice system to address substance misuse, using diversionary programs, and putting harm reduction tactics, reintegration programs, social and economic support, and harm reduction techniques into practice. While studies have demonstrated that these therapies can help people with SUD avoid recidivism and improve their general health, much more must be done to address this complicated problem.

Given the complexity and difficulty of the issues surrounding drug abuse treatment and the criminal justice system, any interventions must be carried out using a multidisciplinary strategy that involves cooperation between criminal justice, drug treatment facilities, and community organizations. Additionally, as each person’s experience with SUD and criminality differs, therapies should be adapted to their particular requirements. It is critical to remember that criminal activity and drug abuse are merely symptoms of a bigger issue. Addressing the underlying social, economic, and psychological problems that fuel these problems is essential to fostering long-term recovery and lowering recidivism.


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Dave, D., Deza, M., & Horn, B. (2021). Prescription drug monitoring programs, opioid abuse, and crime. Southern Economic Journal87(3), 808-848.

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Kim, B. E., Gilman, A. B., Kosterman, R., & Hill, K. G. (2019). Longitudinal associations among depression, substance abuse, and crime: A test of competing hypotheses for driving mechanisms. Journal of criminal justice62, 50-57.

Martinelli, T. F., Nagelhout, G. E., Bellaert, L., Best, D., Vanderplasschen, W., & van de Mheen, D. (2020). Comparing three stages of addiction recovery: Long-term recovery and its relation to housing problems, crime, occupation situation, and substance use. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy27(5), 387-396.

Nielsen, M. O. (2019). Contextualization for Native American crime and criminal justice involvement. In Native Americans, crime, and justice (pp. 10-19). Routledge.

Olupot, D. (2022). Substance abuse and crime among the youths in Makerere Kikoni, Kampala city (Doctoral dissertation, Makerere University).

Roman-Urrestarazu, A., Yang, J., Robertson, R., McCallum, A., Gray, C., McKee, M., & Middleton, J. (2019). Brexit threatens the UK’s ability to tackle illicit drugs and organized crime: What needs to happen now? Health policy123(6), 521–525.

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Drugs and Substances Abuse

Abuse of drugs or substances refers to using them to produce a positive effect on the brain in the form of a joyful feeling. Approximately 190 million individuals worldwide are addicted to drugs, and the prevalence of this problem is frighteningly rising, particularly among young adults under 30. So far, a total of $215 billion has been allocated to the fight against the negative impacts of substance abuse on society. This amount considers missed pay, medical bills, legal fees, and psychological damage (Dryden-Edwards, 2022). Many groups have significantly contributed to preventing or significantly lessening drug misuse in various communities.

Abuse is possible with virtually any chemical as long as its consumption produces a euphoric mood in the user (often referred to as a “high”). Many people are aware of the court cases that include illegal substances like cocaine and cannabis, as well as legal substances like alcohol. Even in modern times, there are a lot of applications of inhalants that aren’t very well understood, such as in household cleaners and medicines like cold treatments. Substances and drugs kinds such as the following are among those that are frequently abused by people and to which they can develop an addiction:

  • Amphetamines

This category of drugs includes both legally produced methamphetamine as well as illegally produced substances such as amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and methylphenidate, which can be found in prescription medications such as Ritalin Focalin, and Concerta (Dryden-Edwards, 2022). If an excessive amount of these substances are consumed, the user may experience convulsions and pass away.

  • Cannabis

Cannabis, also referred to as tetrahydrocannabinol most commonly goes by the name marijuana. It is the most widely used illegal substance, with 14 million persons aged 12 or older claiming to have used it three years before the survey (Dryden-Edwards, 2022). The fact is that cannabis is frequently combined with other psychoactive substances so that drug traffickers may make more money from the combined product (Dryden-Edwards, 2022).

  • Stabilizing Agents

A class of pharmaceuticals that are abused most frequently by weightlifters and other athletes; these chemicals can have terrible psychological adverse effects such as fury and anxiety, in addition to long-term physical side effects that can be severe and even fatal, such as infertility and damage to organs (Dryden-Edwards, 2022).

  • Stimulants

People use these medicines to give themselves the feeling of being energetic and active and to give them the ability to carry out their everyday activities in an active manner. They include beverages like coffee, caffeine, and many other substances. They do not pose a significant threat to one’s health, but they are highly addictive and can deplete or weaken the body if they are unavailable.

Because their effects on the human body are not very harmful, these medicines are abused frequently without the users being aware that they are doing so.

  • Cocaine

This particular stimulant is unique. It is a highly addictive drug that maintains one’s state of alertness at all times. It results in increased activity as well as heightened awareness. It exerts its influence over the brain by increasing a person’s sensitivity to touch, making them extremely happy, and even making them angry in an unhealthy way. Some people can have chronic headaches and even sex issues due to it. In addition to that, it can lead to problems with the heart and possibly the lungs.

On the other hand, one does not simply wake up and decide to start using narcotics. People are pushed to abuse drugs in various ways, all of which play a significant role. Environmental variables can be considered to be among these causes or contributors to the problem of drug misuse. We are referring to poor company, familial influence, social position, work life, and possibly a lack of appropriate advice from parents, to name just a few examples, among many others. These things can push someone over the edge into drug abuse, whether they want to do it or not.

The biological aspect of a person is another reason, albeit rather uncommon, that can lead to their becoming addicted to drugs. Because of a genetic predisposition inherited from their parents, some people end up abusing drugs to an unhealthy degree (Ignaszewski, 2022). Although it does not occur very frequently, the repercussions are devastating if it does. If one does not understand how to control it and gets carried away with it, for that matter, it might be exhausting.

Age is one of the many factors that, more often than not, play a role in drug abuse. When people are still adolescents, they are most likely to try drugs for the first time. Because of this, the brain becomes dependent on drugs, making it difficult, or more accurately exceedingly difficult, to give up narcotics. This is the most common reason many people become addicted to drugs. Because they were first exposed to drugs at such a young age, some people even go so far as to check themselves into rehabilitation facilities to kick their habit (Ignaszewski, 2022). It’s possible that being lonely is one of the factors that drive people to start misusing drugs. Some people turn to drugs to alleviate the boredom and sense of isolation they experience.

However, several approaches can be taken to combat drug abuse. Consultation with a qualified physician is one approach, and it’s also the most typical one. It is common knowledge that one should seek advice from a therapist or any other kind of specialist. Most drug addicts seek treatment at rehabilitation centers, typically exposed to a regimen designed to wean them off of substance abuse over time.

Treatment could also consist of maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in frequent physical activity. It helps alleviate tension, and as a result, the mind can concentrate on more important and productive things than drugs. One must be self-disciplined and prepared to give up drug use to accomplish this. Those who medicate themselves with medications as a response to stress could benefit from talking to loved ones (Ignaszewski, 2022). It’s possible that letting things out will be an excellent stress reliever for you. It helps to liberate the mind, which removes attention from potentially harmful choices such as consuming drugs.

In conclusion, substance misuse is a persistent problem that continues to wreak havoc on the younger generation and the elderly in their later years. It’s a pattern of behavior that might be challenging to break for certain people. The consequences of drug abuse should be brought to people’s attention as much as possible. People should also be informed on the means and ways out of this drug usage problem they currently face. The abuse of drugs has become widespread over time, and the three categories have seen the most abuse. The best way to combat this problem is to impose severe penalties on those caught dealing drugs or using them themselves.


Dryden-Edwards, R. (2022). Drug abuse & addiction definition, treatment, causes, symptoms. MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/drug_abuse/article.htm

Ignaszewski, M. J. (2021). The epidemiology of drug abuse. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology61, S10-S17. https://accp1.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jcph.1937