National Commission Will Examine Causes of Illicit Drug Use and Other Substance Abuse

Article excerpt

The Crime Bill, now law, includes a provision which creates the National Commission on Crime Control and Prevention. The commission will, among other things, examine crime and violence generally, the causes of the demand for drugs, violence in schools and violence against women.

With respect to illicit drugs and substance abuse, the statute requires the commission to make a "comprehensive study of the economic and social factors leading to or contributing to crime and violence, including the causes of illicit drug use and other substance abuse, and to develop specific proposals for legislative and administrative actions to reduce crime and violence and its contributing factors."

Sarah Kayson, director for public policy for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD), questioned why alcohol would not be a part of the commission's study. "We know that alcohol is a contributing factor in 50% of all crimes," said Kayson. "We hope that the commission will take a hard look at this fact and develop legislative proposals that will address alcohol related crime."

Causes of the Demand for Drugs

In order to examine the root causes of illicit drug use and abuse in the United States, the commission will use existing research regarding those root causes in conjunction with the following factors:

* The characteristics of potential illicit drug users and abusers or drug traffickers, including age and social, economic, and educational backgrounds.

* Environmental factors that contribute to illicit drug use and abuse, including the correlation between unemployment, poverty, and homelessness and drug experimentation and abuse.

* The effects of substance use and abuse by a relative or friend in contributing to the likelihood and desire of an individual to experiment with illicit drugs.

* Aspects of, and changes in cultural values, attitudes and traditions that contribute to illicit drug use and abuse. …