Addiction Rehab Centre UK
Tel: 0845 555 444

The link between crime and addiction

People have always assumed a link between addiction and crime.  It is relatively understandable why people jump to this conclusion, in the case of illicit drugs, the mere action is in fact a crime.  However it is not just illegal drugs that are related to crime, a report by The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) in 2005 suggested that half of crimes committed in the early nineties were done by those who were under the influence of alcohol, and that in 2005 37% of the prison population had a problem with alcohol use.

It is often the case that we feel that different drugs are associated with different crimes, often due to portrayal in the media.  For example, the scenes that we see far too regularly outside pubs and clubs, where those under the influence of alcohol are behaving in an unpleasant and occasionally humorous manner are the stereotypical view of the effect alcohol has on us.  However it has far more serious consequences when we consider that in 60-70% of homicide cases, alcohol is an influential factor (IAS, 2005).  More 'hardcore' drugs (i.e. cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine) are often associated with a different set of crimes, such as as prostitution or thievery, or gang related incidents.

Unfortunately, as the statistics indicate, no matter the drug, there is a higher likelihood of someone suffering from addiction becoming involved in a crime and subsequently facing a jail sentence.  However, often the prison environment is not the most ideal place for people suffering from addiction, as there is can be high rates of drug use within the prison, and in many cases the addiction is not treated, and thus re-offending is quite common post-release. 

It is for this reason that a rehab program offered while in prison may be of benefit to individuals post-release.  Investigations in US prisons are already revealing that those who have access to rehab programs during their time in prison have lower recidivism rates after they were released (, 2009).  However, it seems to be the case that often rehab programs are not offered, and inmates are offered no treatment, or are routinely offered drug substitutes to handle their addiction, rather than access to a more intensive program (BBC News, 2009).

Addiction and crime are always going to share a link, however it is the prevention and treatment protocols that we put in place in order to protect people that will help in the long run.  It is for this reason that the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse has offered recommendations that those inmates who suffer from addiction should be afforded the same opportunities for treatment as those who access treatment in the community (NTA).

Institute of Alcohol Studies.  (2005).  Alcohol and crime: IAS Factsheet.  Sourced:

BBC News.  (2009).  A substitute for prison drugs policy?  Sourced:  (2009).  Substance Abuse Programs Reduce Recidivism .  Sourced:

NTA.  Breaking The Link.  The Role of Drug Treatment in Tackling Crime.  Sourced:

Published by on 02/02/2020.

For free, professional advice and treatment planning from experts, call AddictionAdvisor on 0845 555 444 now.

Find a
in the UK

Find a Centre

Contact an

0845 555 444
for free

Request a Brochure

Request a Brochure

Fill in your
details to
receive our
free brochure

Get Email

Email Advice