There is a direct connection between addiction and crime rates. The number of non-violent criminals in prisons today is a clear example of how the two are connected. Drugs and alcohol can completely take over a person’s life. Substance abuse changes the way people act because the chemicals directly affect the brain. Drug addicts will do things that neither you nor they ever thought they were capable of, which is why treatment is essential. This connection between addiction and crime in conjunction with the understanding of how addiction affects people is changing the way communities, states, and even nations are dealing with addiction-related crimes.

Crime and Addiction

The connection between crime and addiction is simple and rather easy to see. Using and abusing drugs and alcohol is a crime in itself, but that is not the type of crime that is being analyzed. Crimes other than the direct use and abuse of alcohol and drugs are the problem. When someone becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, the only thing that matters in their lives are those drugs and alcohol. When they are not using and abusing these substances, they are thinking/plotting on how they are going to get more of them. That amount of effort takes away from other aspects of life. Substance abuse, coupled with a lack of focus, will push an addict towards unemployment. When money becomes an issue, addicts will lie, cheat and steal their way for more drugs. In addition, people who are on drugs or drunk are much more likely to put themselves or others in danger. Operating vehicles under the influence is deadly and illegal. Addicts become much more aggressive when they are using drugs and alcohol. Cases of abuse, neglect, and assault are often committed as a result of substance use and abuse. There have been attempts to reduce the crime rates by helping those with addictions, limiting drug availability and limitations on purchasing alcohol.

Reduction in Crime, Litter, and Homelessness: A Case to Study

A single-serving liquor ban that went into effect in January 2010 has proved to be effective. Citizens of the Arlington Heights area have seen a significant reduction in debris in their neighborhoods. Areas like the train station, which used to be littered with old 40 oz. beer cans are now mostly clean. In the past authorities have responded to repeated issues dealing with alcohol abuse in public by homeless individuals. Now, authorities are happy to say they have not received those types of calls. The ban was part of an effort to reduce the problems related to the homeless issue in Arlington Heights.

The Single Serving Liquor Ban went into effect six years ago. The city has seen a significant decrease in homelessness related issues. Loitering, litter, and other crime relating to the homeless issue have significantly been reduced. The ban states: single can sales of chilled beer or malt liquor of less than 24 ounces, bottles less than 12 fluid ounces, and bottles 40 ounces or larger are prohibited. Wine bottles of less than 10 ounces and other liquor bottles of less than 6.4 ounces were also banned. By eliminating the sales of single-serving liquor the city has witnessed a great reduction in litter, loitering, and crime related to homelessness.

As a result of these new initiatives, the city has seen a significant decline in problems relating to crime, homelessness, and litter. The programs have produced an 89% reduction in nuisance complaints downtown, a 60% decline in unwanted subject incidents, and a 58% decline in battery and assault cases. The reduction in these problems of the city is a direct result of the efforts of this program. The incredible success has taken an issue for the city and made it much more manageable. The program is a great success and should be a model for other cities dealing with similar issues.