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Discuss the nature and extent of heroin addiction and acquisitive crime in the UK.

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Discuss the nature and extent of heroin addiction and acquisitive crime in the UK. This essays will be examining the nature and extent of heroin addiction and acquisitive crime in the UK, by looking at the various theories proposed to explain the link made between heroin addiction and acquisitive crime and by examining the extent and the effect the two problems have on the UK. Firstly it would be appropriate to briefly out line what heroin is and the effect it has on users. Heroin is a semi synthetic, psychoactive opiate derived from the drug morphine. It belongs to a group of drugs known as depressants along with alcohol and barbiturates among others. The effect of heroin intake could be described as a feeling of intense euphoria. Once a 'high' is experienced the user continues with a desire to consume more of the drug. Being a depressant, heroin unlike most illegal substances is physically as well as psychologically addictive. Continuation of heroin usage results in physical addiction. So along with mentally craving the drug, dependant heroin users also suffer from withdrawal syndrome, also known as 'cold turkey', which is a severe and unpleasant set of symptoms, which occur when the users body need the drug these symptoms include diarrhoea, convulsions, vomiting, and uncontrollable body movements. ...read more.


The suggestions raised in the studies critical of the 'drug causes crime' explanation, relate to the second theory exploring the heroin/acquisitive crime link, which is 'crime causes drug use'. Some researchers suggest that in users criminality precedes drug dependence. This outlook does contain support including Mott and Taylor (1974) and also Auld et al (1986) among others. The latter suggested that young working class people, suffering from unemployment and low benefits became involved in criminal activity to obtain a better standard of living. Within this lifestyle they come into contact with heroin, which leads to usage and eventually dependence. Burr (1987) concludes of heroin users that 'use of heroin was an extension rather than cause of delinquent behaviour'. This feeling coincides with Bean and Wilkinson's 1988 study of dependant heroin users in which 50% of the sample where criminal before drug taking. A point that must be made is that a number of the studies mentioned may also be looking at other types of crime, not just acquisitive crime exclusively but are used as evidence for each theory. Also another point to be made on, behalf of both theories referred to is that, the use of criminal convictions as a measure of criminality can be flawed as convictions do not accurately portray the amount of criminal activity took part in by users, just the amount they are caught carrying out. ...read more.


This figure accounts for around 1%-21% of all acquisitive crime in England and Wales in the early 90's. The ISDD report does conclude it self to be of 'moderate quality', due to the lack and quality of previous information and research, however, it is still safe to say that acquisitive crime related to heroin dependency is a substantial and very costly problem. In conclusion there seems to be no doubt at all that heroin dependence in the UK is related to increased amounts of acquisitive crime whether dependence causes it crime or vice versa. The only obvious solution to decrease this amount of crime is to legalise heroin, so that addicts can get the drug on prescription, one only has to go back to alcohol prohibition in 1920's America, although it resulted in lower usage, alcohol was still produced (through organised crime) but was of low quality and could in some cases be quite dangerous. This is exactly what is taking place with heroin at present. Some might say that it would cost the NHS too much but that probably won't be as much as the cost of acquisitive crime associated with usage is costing the nation, as well as stopping the multi million pound heroin trade. Also through legalisation there would not be the adulteration, diluting and contamination of the substance that there is while criminals control it distribution. ...read more.

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