4 years ago

The Curious (Dis)Connection between the Opioid Epidemic and Crime

Maia Szalavitz, Khary K. Rigg

Drug epidemics often bring with them an accompanying rise in crime. The heroin wave of the 1970's and crack crisis of the 1980's were each accompanied by major gun violence, including large numbers of murders and violent property crimes. The current United States opioid epidemic, however, has not been associated with either a rise in homicide or in property crime. In fact, crime rates have been declining for decades, and are now less than half their 1991 peak, despite an unprecedented spike of opioid overdose deaths that began in the late 1990's. These facts do not fit with the usual narrative about the link between drug addiction and criminal behavior. While the drugs-crime connection has always been far more nuanced than the way it is typically portrayed, there wasn't such a glaring disconnect between reality and mythology during the drug epidemics of the 1970's and 1980's. The mystery of the missing opioid crime explosion offers unique insight into the myths and realities of drug addiction. To explore this issue further, this commentary briefly summarizes the drugs-crime connection, contrasts the current opioid crisis with drug epidemics of the past, and provides possible explanations for the absence of an opioid-fueled crime wave.

Publisher URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10826084.2017.1376685

DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2017.1376685

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.