Substance abuse, such as alcoholism or drug abuse is often triggered by a negative experience or a series of negative experiences, such as child abuse, spousal abuse, child sexual abuse, sexual assault, abandonment of a parent during childhood, death of a parent, or witnessing a violent event, such as a murder or the death of a loved one.
Ask any executive director at a homeless shelter or a counselor at a rehab center, and they’ll say that most people struggling with addiction experienced trauma in their lives and turned to the bottle or drugs to “feel normal” or to “stop feeling the pain” associated with their painful pasts, experiences that keep running through their minds over and over.
The problem is that once someone develops an addiction to alcohol or drugs, especially drugs, they’ll do almost anything to get their next fix. As substance abuse worsens, it becomes harder for the individual to hold down a job, pay their bills, and come up with the large amounts of cash to fund their addictions. This is where people resort to crime to buy drugs and alcohol.
Connection to Drug Abuse & Crime
“Drug abuse is implicated in at least three types of drug-related offenses: (1) offenses defined by drug possession or sales, (2) offenses directly related to drug abuse (e.g., stealing to get money for drugs), and (3) offenses related to a lifestyle that predisposes the drug abuser to engage in illegal activity, for example, through association with other offenders or with illicit markets,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Those who use illegal drugs are more likely to break the law, and it’s very common for individuals to use drugs or alcohol before committing a crime, especially violent crimes, or for them to be using them immediately before they commit the crime, reports the NIDA.
According to 2012 statistics reported by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the correctional population in the U.S. was estimated to be nearly 6,940,000, with about 4,800,000 offenders on probation or parole. Of the criminal offenses committed by all of those individuals, the majority of them were for drug violations.
Drug Abuse Treatment
Clearly, one of the most important solutions is to get offenders substance abuse treatment so they can get clean and live a drug-free, crime-free life. According to the NIDA, there are several ways to incorporate drug abuse treatment into the criminal justice system, such as:
- Community-based treatment after the offender’s release.
- Drug courts that require treatment as a condition of the offender’s probation.
- Drug treatment that is under probation or parole supervision.
The NIDA and the Florida Courts agree that by effectively treating substance abuse and addiction, crime can be reduced and communities can save money. In Hillsborough County, we have the Adult Pretrial Intervention Drug Court, which is specifically for first-time drug offenders. It gives them a second chance.
Even if you’re facing felony drug charges, this alternative method of sentencing may allow you to avoid a felony conviction if this is your first drug offense. If you pass a background check and are willing to sign a contract promising to complete the drug treatment program, the State Attorney’s Office may agree to drop your charges once you complete the program. But to be eligible for the drug court, you must meet the following criteria:
- You have to be 18 or older.
- You cannot have any felony convictions on your record.
- This must be the first time you participate in the program.
- You must waive your right to a speedy trial.
- You have to admit that you have a drug problem.
- You must demonstrate the desire to receive drug treatment.
Are you facing drug possession charges in Tampa? Whether this is your first, second, or third offense, we urge you to contact our firm to meet with a drug possession attorney.