Substance abuse disorders, also known as chemical dependence or addiction, are among the most common and wide-reaching mental health issues in the United States. Million of adults struggle with addiction and the compulsive use of certain substances.
From opioid pain relievers to alcohol, there are many chemical compounds that cause physical addiction and psychological dependence. People may start using these substances after an injury or illness and find themselves unable to stop because they have developed an addiction.
Those struggling with addiction may eventually find themselves facing criminal charges. Many people recognize that those dependent on prohibited substances could face drug charges. Theft offenses like burglary, shoplifting and robbery also have a strong association with chemical dependence. Why are those coping with substance abuse disorders frequently accused of theft?
How addiction relates to theft
Substance abuse isn’t cheap. With the exception of those dependent on medication that they receive from a pharmacist, many people struggle to afford the banned or controlled substance they regularly consume.
Sometimes, people feed their addiction by stealing their substance of choice from a retailer or a family member who uses the same medication. There are even those who go to real estate open houses just to rummage through people’s medicine cabinets. Those who cannot access prescription medication in particular through legal means may resort to robbery or burglary as a way of obtaining their substance of choice.
Theft helps fund substance abuse
Plenty of people struggling with chemical dependence can only purchase the drug that they use on the unregulated market. They have no control over pricing and may be subject to huge markups. Especially when addiction has affected someone’s ability to maintain a job, the only way for them to afford the drugs they need to avoid withdrawal symptoms may be to commit property crimes.
Muggings, burglaries and other forms of theft may stem from someone’s desire to access money or objects that they can resell in order to purchase the drug that they frequently use. The unfortunate truth for those accused of a property crime while struggling with a substance abuse disorder is that incarceration may only make the underlying addiction worse.