Recently a workshop on the Status and Impact of Substance Abuse in T&T was organized –“Detection, Early Intervention and Creation of a drug free workplace.” A comment made by Dr. Amery Browne, the Social Development Minister invoked mixed reactions from the audience. He said, “Substance abuse continues to destroy families, caused our children to be murdered. Substance abuse is tied to violence, poverty and terrorism.”
The obvious question that arises is “Are alcohol and drug abusers criminals?” Working for the cause for more than a decade and being a witness of lives that have changed after stopping drug use, I would rather say that there are certain factors that lead to their involvement in criminal activities. The most common one being the compulsion to sustain their addiction. Larceny, burglary, embezzlement, robbery, etc. to get money for drugs, are frequent. They can go to any extent to fetch money for the chemical. In third world countries like India, drugs addicts are also known sell their blood for money. Yes, this is true.
The pharmacologic effects of drugs on the behavior of the user also contribute a lot in generating violence. Alcohol is known to generate violence by reducing inhibitions while marijuana has no such effect. Reports received from the law enforcement agencies of the country have shown that a good percentage of criminals had performed the crime under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The officials have given testimony before the Congressional Committee about the close relationship between property crime and drug addiction. They have also said that the percentage of such crime will reduce with incarceration of the drug users.
Possession and distribution of drugs itself is a crime thereby making drug addicts law offenders without actually getting involved in other antisocial activities. The lifestyle of the drug users increases the chance to get exposed to situations that encourage crime.
So the treatment options available for addiction should always stress on crime free recovery. Please let me know your views on this issue. It’s our collective responsibility to make every house drug free.