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Are Drug Abusers Criminals?

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posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 10:59 AM
Are all Drug Abusers Criminals?

Before anyone jumps on me, I understand that any individual who breaks the law is a criminal. Alot of people will lie, steal & cheat to earn money in which they spend on drugs. This makes them criminals. What about the addicts who do not lie, steal or cheat to get their drugs?

I've recently watched an old documentary about the drug problem in Vancouver about 15 years ago. It documented several different individuals, some of which I would call criminals and others were just sad stories.

There was Nikki who had been on the streets for 25 years. That fact alone was remarkable that someone could survive so long with sich poor living conditions. She was sexually abused at a young age and ran away from home. After running away she was controlled by a 48 year old man when she was only 15 and this was when she began to inject drugs into her system.

Harry was also another sad story. Images of him as a youth showed a man with great potential for sports. He was the jock of his school in high school and had hopes to making it to the Pro's some day. Semi-Pro was the closest he had gotten, but only fell short due to his addiction. He was another guy that was watched for an extensive period of time and he to did not break the law. He would not steal to get money for drugs, but had some serious lows when he could not come across money quickly.

Now Samantha was another situation. She fit the criminal profile and was not kind at heard like the others. She had stole items on a regular basis and sold them at cheap prices to buy drugs. Her addiction dominated her life and the scars were clearly visible. A domestic dispute between her and the boyfriend ended up with him shooting himself in the head. She didn't blink an eye, just continued to shoot up.

Now here we have three separate stories of drug abusers. Are all three criminals? What of the cancer patient who is perscribed something to fight the pain. He becomes addicted to the pain killer and suddenly it takes over his life even after the cancer. Is this person a criminal?

The Vancouver Police Force had the Odd Squad which patrolled the regular drug hangouts in the area. When they came across these individuals they tried to help, not persecute. They often took Nikki for a warm meal and talked to her, and she was more than willing to open up to the camera because she knew it was directed at the youth and prevention.

Use of illegal drugs is obviously a criminal act, but would you consider all of these individuals criminals?

My personal belief is that No, all drug addicts are not criminals. The act of taking an illegal drug does not make an individual a criminal. These are people with families, and are all in a fight for their life. We need to look at these people as in need of help and not justice. They should not be locked up in prison, they should be entered into a rehabilitation clinic if they are willing.

What are your thoughts on this? Are all drug abusers criminals? Regardless of their past, is the act of taking an illegal drug make someone a criminal?

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 11:13 AM
I have had some experience with this. I wont go into my entire story, but about 5 years ago I got arrested for having a few painkillers (like 3) and a very small bag of marijuana (about a quarter ounce). The charges that were given to me were schedule 1 narcotics and possession of marijuana. Now the possession charge is mesdemeaner, while shedule 1 narcotics is a felony. Now from then till 5 years from now I cannot own a firearm. I cannot vote and every time I apply for a job I have to check yes to felony. I dont think the justice system is fair when it comes to drug charges in some instances. Like in my case, 3 pills ruined my record. Sure I made the decision to do those things, but do I really deserve all that?

I was never what I would consider an attict, but I did from time to time use recreationally. I no longer participate in such events, but something so petty still burdens me today.


posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 11:20 AM
Good post

I think though that maybe you are focusing on this a little narrow mindedly, though it truly is an excellent post. To look at the drug problem in society you need to incorporate the prescribed drug users. Often these are the people who are the addicts for the longest, though their doctors prescribe it it is therefore legal. There is many many people in all of western society that are addicted and walking around as zombies due to anti-depressants and pain killers etc.

In addition anyone who has ever had any contact with the Drug Field either proffessionally or socially knows that there is terrible corruption within the police forces that are supposed to control this issue. They could if they wanted close down most crack houses overnight, its a matter of fact that most DEA or Drug police of any kind are recieving paybacks to leave certain dealers alone.

The CIA and military of all countries involvement in shipping most of the Class A drugs worldwide is well known documented and again another statement of fact.

They use drugs for financial gain, to recreate the class system used to subjegate the average joe that is dissolving, to keep poverty entrenched in certain socio economic sections and racial divides by sucking out the money and options and opportunities of those poeple they are afraid of. They turn their own fear at losing their control over society around by creating the very situation, that the majority of the public, will then back their call for more state and police control.

regards Elf

ps if it wasnt for drug use the book of revaltions would never had been written (funny when you look at the drug stance of most people espousing its "truth" today!) we wouldnt have alice in wonderland, Sherlock Holmes most of the teachings of the Native American indians etc etc. They certainly brought more to society until they were criminalised and used by the state (firstly by the UK in the opium wars!) as a form of division and funding and control.

Personally the issues of Alcohol and Tabacco worry me a lot more from a big picture sociolgical point of view, to include helath care cost, violence and crimes.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 01:53 PM
Interesting thread.

Your inital posting asked the question whether the persons you described are all criminals, because they use illegal narcotics. The text book answer is that the production, trafficking, and use of illegal substances is against the law, and therefore criminal. However, it seems to me that it's usually the outcome of using illegal drugs that makes someone a criminal. For instance, consider this line of thinking - A person has too much to drink and becomes impaired (nothing illegal about that). Then this person gets behind the wheel of a car and hits a person on a street corner. The causal effect of consuming alcohol, becoming impaired, and driving a vehicle... someone may die.

So use this same analogy in describing the outcome of using illegal narcotics. We see it in the headlines everyday, i.e. "Man on Meth Kills Neighbour." What is criminal is the societal effects of persons who use illegal drugs. Right from the health care costs, to the policing and prosecuting costs. Not too mention the addict that has to 'knock over' the odd convenience store to support the habit.

The advocates may argue that an individual having a 'joint,' say in their own home, would not have any effect on society, or adversely effect their health. Because the common fallacy is that it's only 'hard drugs' (coc aine, heroin, meth, ect.) that cause problems. The medical reports on that issue go back and forth daily. So, the jury's still out on that one...

Here's is what I do know. The illegal drug trade is alive and well in Canada, and closer to your example, doing very well in Vancouver. Large quanities of drugs find their way into Canada by ways too numerous to mention, but we do know that organized crime groups are trading 1 lb. of BC marijuana for 1 lb. of coc aine (from out of country). And, due to this exchange of commodities the hard drug use in Canada (specifically the West Coast) has increased dramatically over the last 10 years. My point is this, soft drugs bring in hard drugs. And, the causal effects of that have devistated Vancouver's East side.

In the end, who's winning in this - not the user, not society, must be the drug suppliers. The BC marijuana industury is over 6 Billion annually...

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 02:21 PM
Firstly...Excellent post.

I read about stories like these and to be honest it gets me a little miffed. To think that there are people out there that chances are, really would preffer being clean to living the life of addiction and embarrasment, and can't. The sad part is, even if they are criminals and do get caught, the system isn't concerned with rehibilitation. They end up getting processed and spit right back out on the streets. I guess in an idealistic world our tax dollars would go to helping these people become rehibilitated when they are in the system as to prevent repeat offenders.

Sorry for the poorly constructed post. Bear with me, as this was my first on ATS..


posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 02:30 PM
Much thanks on the appreciation.

I thought about this over the last few days and though it would be a great thread for ATS. I can tell you why I feel a certain way and give you twenty solid reasons to support it and nobody could deny these claims. Then another member could come in with twenty of their own and be correct.

So I'm glad this has gotten off on the right foot and I look forward to hearing more of our members opinions.

Some abusers are victims of their own environment. They were born with two strikes against them, so it did not take long for them to follow suit. People who quickly turn their nose up at someone who abuses drugs and is out on the street panhandling is ignorant to their situation. They are not wrong for turning a blind eye, sure we can blame the individual quickly. But if you take a moment to learn their story and show alittle empathy you may not turn the other cheeck next time. I think we can all understand that their was once a possibility in our passed where we could of taken a wrong turn.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 02:42 PM
Make sure we mind the T&C kiddies. I see way too many good topics closed for discussing drugs. Its a thin line to tip-toe.

Good discussion!

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 02:43 PM
If you're poor and a nobody, drug abuse is a criminal offence.

If you're rich and famous like Rush Limbaugh, you can pay your attorneys to pull enough strings to have the charges dropped.

It's the old American double standard. Everyone is created equal, but some are more equal than others.

same as it ever was.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 02:58 PM
Interesting question...

IMHO, drug addicts are far less criminal than the drug dealers that sell to them.

government drug smuggling

truly, i dont feel that most drug users should ever be considered criminals...
reprobates, maybe... but not criminals...

most drug users are just that... users...
drug addicts tend to be controlled by their need of the drug... and that means that often they do resort to illegal methods of attaining them...

mary jane doesn't seem to have this issue.
It is not as addictive as the speed variations, that seem to draw my neighbor to the spoils of my garage treasures all too often... (that little bastard snorted my telescope)

But regardless... leave the recreational users alone, and only go after users that are breaking laws... and then only bust them for the laws they are breaking...
their are far too many in jail, that shouldn't be, and far too many that are being released early for lack of room...
Give me a hippy over a rapist any day of the week...

hell, for that matter, give me a crank monkey neighbor stealing my telescope over a rapist any day of the week...

We dont have room or money to jail all the law breakers these days...

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 03:07 PM
I see drugs addicted people as been victims of the drug dealers that is not criminal, but when the drug addicted is also a pusher then he is a criminal.

Kind of touchy subject.

But like many already has state people that are abusing prescribe drugs will fall in the same categories, they are either victims or if they are pushing then they are criminals.

I think one of the problems with the law and drug use is the way that is interpreted depending who is the one bringing the charges.

Still not matter the circunstances making drugs illegal in our nation mades their use and abuse braking the law.

[edit on 20-9-2006 by marg6043]

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 03:31 PM
There's a difference between drug-user and drug-abuser...

The three personal examples in the first post are all drug-abuse, where substances are used to numb out a personal situation or event, or have become the prime focus of day-to-day life.

On the other hand, drug-users take a substance to enjoy the effects of relaxation/euphoria much in the same way as enjoying a whiskey or two on an evening.

The main reason drug-abusers become criminals is due to the high cost, and that constant use of any particular drug leads to increased tolerance levels in the body. This forces the addict to find ever increasing amounts of hard currency, usually through crime, to buy greater quantities of whatever substance.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 04:01 PM
The documentary I watched was interviewing the abusers and they were saying how on a light day it would cost them $150-200 a day. I found that shocking, how in the holy hell were they coming across this? This was almost a pat on the back to Nikki and Harry in the film, because they did not steal to get their money. They panhandled, recycled bottles, etc. to get every penny. How can you not view these people as victims?

Lets take the bottom figure of $150 per day.

$150/day x 365 Days a Year = $54750

Thats a good chunk of change. People do not spend that much money on drugs because they like it. The fear of going into withdrawal is normally greater than death for these addicts.

I applaud the cops that were in this film as well. They worked the same area everyday, so they came into regular contact with the usuals. They understood their story and did not persecute them. They talked to the abusers and tried to help by positive reinforcement. More than once they, on their own time, found family members and brought them down to meet them. This is going alittle above and beyond the code of conduct.

Compassion and Empathy can go a long way, these people aren't as bad as some may think.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 04:03 PM
The basic answer is "not necessarily", even for "abusers". The addiction is not the issue imo. It's how an addict goes about scoring his fix. I work in Corrections and most of the addicts I've come across are in because they support their habit with "criminal activities". So then, yes, they are criminals. However, I know hard core users that support their habit by holding down jobs, as opposed to dealing drugs or B&E's. Thus NOT criminals imo.

Addiction is NOT a crime. It's how you deal with it.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 06:08 PM

Originally posted by timski
There's a difference between drug-user and drug-abuser...

Certainly. Although a recreational user is not really a non-abuser. If their is no purpose for taking the drug, then it is being abused. Every drug at one time or another did have a purpose.

'___' was used to help in surgery. After they realized it wasn't exactly a good idea they thought, Hell, Lets just use it on our pets!. Alcohol, Cocaine, THC all of these were used as pain killers to help with surgery. Obviously these are not for the same purpose today, but using these drugs for no reason is drug abuse.

A cancer patient smoking the odd doob is someone I would consider a drug user. They have a distinct purpose for using the drug.

Originally posted by intrepid
Addiction is NOT a crime. It's how you deal with it.

You enjoy taking my thoughts and summing it all up in a few short words, Admit it!

This is the long and the short of what I am trying to express. The addiction is not the crime at hand. If the abuser is breaking the law to come into the money to buy the drugs, then yes they are a criminal. Someone who works hard to buy their drugs, and only abuses their own body then well they are only a victim of their own addiction.

[edit on 20-9-2006 by chissler]

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 06:16 PM

Originally posted by chissler

Originally posted by intrepid
Addiction is NOT a crime. It's how you deal with it.

You enjoy taking my thoughts and summing it all up in a few short words, Admit it!

This is the long and the short of what I am trying to express. The addiction is not the crime at hand. If the abuser is breaking the law to come into the money to buy the drugs, then yes they are a criminal. Someone who works hard to buy their drugs, and only abuses their own body then well they are only a victim of their own addiction.

[edit on 20-9-2006 by chissler]

There ARE concequences though that while not criminal, are certainly WRONG. Even though not committing a crime against society, if the abuser has a family, there are crimes against them. Indifference, lack of support, etc. None of this is "criminal" but it perpetuates the cycle of addiction. It goes on for the next generation. That SHOULD be criminal but that's not illegal.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 06:16 PM
IMO a user shouldn't be charged heavily unless they have so much in their person that it's obvious they have an intent to distribute. I personally wouldn't call a user a criminal unless, as you said, they are doing other illegal things in order to score such as prostitution, robbery, etc.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 06:23 PM
I take the Libertarian view and think all anti-drug laws should be repealed. Drug companies should be able to sell their pure products to anyone without a prescription. This would drastically reduce the danger of drug use and I doubt would signficantly increase use.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 06:25 PM
Unfortunatedly, i am familiar with a drug user...

Because she doctor shops, because she goes to different towns, because she even sells some of her meds for $$$, I'd have to say she is a criminal.

Me, on the other hand, if i hurt myself i go to the hospital and they tell me to take Tylenols....
I'd like to know how abusers convince certain doctors that they are in pain- a pain so severe it merits Oxycontin.

BTW, there is nothing wrong with this woman healthwise.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 06:32 PM
Drug abuse is a medical problem. Creating new classes of crimes to arrest drug users(not necessarilly abuse) so that greedy lobbiests can secure their agendas should be a crime and arguably is a crime against humanity. You can't solve a medical condition with arresting people period. What about alcohol, tabacco, surely these substances have far worse effects to society at large than most drug use. And prescribed pill addiction, don't even get me started on that can of worms. Now there is a real problem.

posted on Sep, 20 2006 @ 07:31 PM

Originally posted by dgtempe

I'd like to know how abusers convince certain doctors that they are in pain- a pain so

This was a major problem in my area about 4 years ago. Oxycontin (Oxies) were rampant and it was a scary site. Doctors & cancer patients were being robbed on a regular basis.

For those not familiar with what this is, here is a link.

OxyContin contains oxycodone, a very strong narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine. OxyContin is designed so that the oxycodone is slowly released over time, allowing it to be used twice daily. You should never break, chew, or crush the OxyContin tablet since this causes a large amount of oxycodone to be released from the tablet all at once, potentially resulting in a dangerous or fatal drug overdose.

A story close to my heart. My step-father, who was diagnosed with cancer and a short time later passed away from a heart attack, was apparently the owner of a large perscription to a potent Oxycontin. (I believe they were OC80's) He had a perscription of them for about 4 months that my mother and I were not aware off. It was only after his death that we were moving from the house that we came across them. We noticed a large pill bottle filled, and the label indicated they were Oxycontins. We counted them and noticed that he had not taken one. All of the refills were still available.

This was a man in serious pain, who had just had his bladder and prostate gland removed. The pain killer that was given was the Oxycontin and he refused to take it. The same story happened often back in my home town. A man would be given a perscription of Oxies and he himself would become hooked or their house would be broken into for the pills.

I can only assume this is why he refused to take them, and kept it a secret from everyone. After coming across them after his death, my mother and I flushed them all down the toilet. A few thousand dollars worth atleast, but we had seen what these could do first hand and it was a no brainer they were going down the toilet.

If he had of started to take these pills, with the amount he had perscribed to him, it would of been no problem at all for him to become addicted. Someone with no drug problem at all, just a man who busted his ass to provide for his family who ran into some bad luck and was diagnosed with cancer. So you can imagine how easy it could happen to become addicted to such a dreadful drug.

Every individual has a story, try not to judge before atleast attempting to understand.

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