HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Stats Confirm Key Role Alcohol Plays In Crime
Pubdate: Wed, 01 May 2002
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Page A9
Copyright: 2002, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Erin Anderssen
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Close the liquor stores. Ban those predinner cocktails. The federal 
government has proved it: It's the drunks, not the druggies, who should 
really scare us.

A new study confirming the link between substance abuse and crime has found 
that the real demon lurking behind the homicides and violent assaults in 
this country is the one drug Ottawa lets us buy.

Pot, cocaine and heroin may make us steal. But alcohol makes us kill.

"Everybody's scared of drug-crazed people slitting their throats in the 
street. It's more likely to be a good old-fashioned drunk," said Richard 
Garlick, a spokesman for the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse and the 
author of the report.

The three-year, $250,000 study found that drugs and alcohol were major 
contributing factors in up to half of the examined crimes. But the line was 
clearly drawn: Drugs were the leading weakness for people convicted of 
economic crimes such as theft and shoplifting. Alcoholics were twice as 
likely as drug takers to have committed violent crimes.

Drinking too much alcohol, the report says, was the main contributing 
factor to one-third of homicides and assaults studied -- suggesting that 
these crimes would likely not have occurred at all if the killers had 
stayed sober. This number jumps another 20 per cent when alcohol is 
combined with drugs.

Drug use alone, on the other hand, was the main factor in only 7 per cent 
of homicides.

"If you look at this study, the first thing you would do is prohibit 
alcohol," Mr. Garlick said. "The thing that's really causing the most 
serious crime is the drug that's readily available to anyone at any time."

Experts have always linked substance abuse to crime, but this is the first 
Canadian study to produce statistics to substantiate the claim that drugs 
and alcohol cause crime. To complete the report, the centre conducted 
in-depth interviews with nearly 700 provincial and federal inmates and 
surveyed another 10,000 prisoners and individuals under arrest.

Slightly more than half of federal inmates told researchers that they were 
under the influence of either alcohol or drugs (most often cocaine) when 
they committed their most serious crime. They reported addictions at a much 
higher rate than the rest of the Canadian population, and drug abusers in 
particular were more likely to rob or shoplift simply to feed their habit.

Addiction itself leads to more frequent crime generally: Inmates dependent 
on drugs or alcohol averaged about seven crimes a week, mostly drug 
offences, but more than three times the rate for inmates without addictions.

The question of what to do about substance abuse in Canada is currently the 
domain of two parliamentary committees charged with looking into such 
issues as the economic costs of drug use, the consequences of legalizing 
marijuana and how to balance enforcement with treatment.

Liberal MP Derek Lee, a member of one of the committees studying the 
problem, says it will now have to look at the hard numbers on alcohol abuse.

"Members of Parliament are going to have to wake up to this reality," Mr. 
Lee said.

"It's clear that tobacco is the big killing drug. And it's clear that the 
big expensive drug is alcohol."

Cocktail for violence

A federal Solicitor-General report shows the relationship between crime and 
substance abuse. The main findings indicate that violent crimes were more 
ofter associated with the use of alcohol while crimes such as theft and 
robbery tended to have a stronger link to illegal drugs.

..................Alcohol...Illicit drugs...Alcohol and

only          only         drugs

Assault            39%            9%           24%

Homicide           34%            7%           21%

Attempted murder   30%            9%           24%
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager