Sample Criminal Justice Paper on Relationship between Drug Abuse and Delinquency

Relationship between Drug Abuse and Delinquency

            Young people who constantly engage in drug abuse usually face a variety of problems, such as difficulties in academics, health-related problems, poor relationships with their peers, and getting involved with the justice system. Indeed, encounters with the juvenile justice system has come under increased focus in studies as it has consequences for not only the youth involved but also the community, family members, and the wider society. Drug abuse among delinquents is a social problem because it leads to an increase of crime rates among the youth and of the number of people who go through the criminal justice system at a young age.

            There is an irrefutable association between drug abuse and delinquency. Arrest, sentencing, and intervention by the juvenile justice system are the consequences for an increasingly large number of youths involved with substance abuse. This does not imply that drug abuse directly leads to delinquent acts or that delinquency causes substance abuse, however, it is clear that the two variables have a strong relationship (Bartollas & Schmalleger, 2016). Empirical studies have established an association between juvenile delinquency and drug abuse. The abuse of alcohol and other drugs is linked with income-generating and violent crimes and this increases fear among members of the community. (Bartollas & Schmalleger, 2016). Furthermore, it acts as a burden on the juvenile justice system since juvenile delinquents will enter the criminal justice system due to drug-related offenses. Many problems are tied to drug abuse like involvement in gangs and drug peddling among adolescents that eventually lead to contact with the criminal justice system at a tender age.

Relationship Between Drug Abuse and Delinquency

            Studies over the past two decades have attempted to determine how drug abuse starts and how it develops to alarming levels. Many variables can increase an individual’s risk for drug abuse. Risk factors can enhance an individual’s inclination to engage in drug abuse. However, it is important to note that most people at risk for drug abuse do not begin with drugs or become addicts (Winters et al, 2017).

            Risk factors can influence drug abuse in numerous ways. The more risks an adolescent is exposed to, the higher the chances the teenager will abuse drugs. Some risk variables may be stronger than others at certain stages of development, like peer pressure during teenager years or a weak parent-child bond in the early years (Winters et al, 2017). To that end, a key objective of prevention is to shift the balance between risk and protective factors so that the risk factors are outweighed by protective factors.

Recent Trends in Adolescent Drug Use

Studies show that some children begin to abuse drugs as ages as young as 12 or 13 years, which likely means that there is a sizeable number that starts earlier. Early abuse usually involves substances like alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, tobacco, and prescription medications. Abusers usually advance to other illicit drugs if they persist with the habit into the latter stages of adolescence (Winters et al, 2017). On that account, persistent drug abuse leads to deeper addiction and the inclination to engage in delinquent acts.

Drug abuse among delinquents is a social problem because it leads to the rise of young people committing crimes and going through the criminal justice system. Studies demonstrate that drug abuse and delinquency have a strong correlation. There are certain risk factors that incline the youth to engage in drug abuse. These risk factors should be mitigated to decrease youth delinquency tied to drug abuse.


Bartollas, C &Schmalleger F. (2016). Juvenile Delinquency. Pearson.

Winters, K., Fahnhorst, T., Botzet, A., Stinchfield, R., & Nicholson, A. (2017). Assessing adolescent alcohol and other drug abuse. In The Oxford Handbook of Adolescent Substance Abuse.