The link between drug use and crime is not a new one and numerous studies show that drugs use directly relates to crime in multiple ways. First of all, and most directly, it is a crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs classified as having a potential for abuse (such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines). Illegal and illicit drugs also are directly related to crime through the effects they have on the user's behavior and by generating violence and other illegal activity in connection with drug trafficking. The Office of national Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) summarizes the drug to crime relationship in three ways:.
[d]rug defined offenses, [which are] violations of laws prohibiting or regulating the possession, use, distribution or manufacture of illegal drugs, [d]rug related offenses, to which a drug's pharmacologic effects contribute; offenses motivated by the user's need for money to support continued use; and offenses connected to drug distribution itself [and the] [d]rug using lifestyle, a lifestyle in which the likelihood and frequency of involvement in illegal activity are increased because drug users may not participate in the legitimate economy and are exposed to situations that encourage crime (ONDCP 2000). .
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducts an annual National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) that questions numerous people living households about their drug and alcohol use and their involvement in crimes. The data for 1997 reveal, " that respondents arrested in the past year for possession or sale of drugs and driving under the influence had the highest percentage of illicit drug use [during] the past year" and that " illicit drug users were also about 16 times more likely than non [drug] users to report being arrested and booked for larceny or theft" and ".[were] more than 14 times more likely to be arrested and booked for such offenses as driving under the influence, drunkenness, or liquor law violations, [along with] more than [nine] times likely to be arrested and booked on assault charge[s]" (ONDCP 2000).