Alarming Statistics Expose the Prevalence of Drug-Related Crime in America

By: Design for Change Recovery April 13, 2023 no comments

A long, boring list of drug statistics won’t have as much impact as it should, but it’s important to look at the numbers and realize that someone, somewhere grieves for these individuals.  They may be someone’s son, daughter, wife, or husband.  Sadly, some are addicted parents whose children are forced to live in foster homes.

Every day, drug-related crime affects society in thousands of ways.  Yet, those who are not directly affected may not realize the severity of the problem.  With that in mind, we provide the following statistics to show how every city across the U.S. struggles with the burden of crimes caused by drugs.

The Relationship Between Drugs and Crime

Many of the people who commit drug-related crimes do so to fund their habit.  Without drugs, they may never have crossed that line.  However, the fact remains that the crimes caused by drugs affect society in many ways.  

Aside from those who are trying to fund their drug use, many drug-related crimes are connected to drug trafficking.  Drug trafficking is associated with money laundering, corruption, gang violence, theft, drug manufacturing, possession, dealing, and prostitution.

Many neighborhoods that were once affluent and safe are now ruined by drugs and crime.  Millions of people in those areas lock their doors at night knowing that it won’t be enough to stop a determined drug criminal.  

Incredibly High Rates of Drug-Related Crime

The war on drugs has not eradicated illicit drugs from our streets. In reality, it’s not likely to happen despite tougher laws.  Prisons will continue to be grossly overcrowded while the costs of keeping someone incarcerated are substantial.  

Generally, drug users are far more likely to commit crimes than nonusers, and as long as drugs are available, the cycle of drugs and crime will continue.

Below are some statistics on drug-related crime in America.  We hope the disturbing numbers will motivate you to avoid drugs or to seek treatment if you are actively using.  Don’t let yourself become one of these statistics.

Drug Arrests

  • 1.16 million people are arrested for drug-related crimes each year.
  • 13.3% of all drug related-arrests were for or manufacture of a drug.
  • 11.0% of drug arrests are for marijuana.
  • 86% of all arrests are for possession of controlled substances.


  • 85% of prison inmates abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • 244,000 Americans go to prison for drug-related crimes.
  • 60–80% of released drug offenders are rearrested within 2 years.

Drug-Related Homicides

  • 86.4% of homicides are linked to drugs.
  • 64.2% of homicides are linked to drug dealing.
  • 58.0% of homicides involve both drug use and dealing.

Individuals who buy street drugs are victimized daily by unscrupulous dealers.  Their fentanyl-laced drugs cause thousands of overdose deaths that should be included in the drug-related homicide statistics.  

Costs of Drug-Related Crime 

In many ways, drug-related crime imposes a significant financial burden on the government.  These statistics will help you comprehend the outrageous financial impact of drug-related crime in America.

According to Urban Institute, state and local governments spend staggering amounts on drug-related crime.  Here are some examples:

  • $129 billion on police
  • $ 86 billion on corrections
  • $ 51 billion on courts
  • $ 34 billion to enforce drug policies
  • $ 10 billion to imprison drug offenders
  • $37,500 a year to house one inmate in a correctional facility

Aside from the negative impact of drug-related crime on society, substance use has other negative consequences.  For instance, a breakdown of families, a loss of productivity among workers, and an overburdened law enforcement are a few examples.  

Here are a few more effects you may not have thought of.  Meth labs pose environmental risks due to toxic chemicals and fumes that pollute the air and seep into groundwater.  Furthermore, massive amounts of forest land are cleared for use in growing coca plants and marijuana plants.

The impact of substance use, trafficking, crime, and deaths is wreaking havoc on major cities and small towns alike.  

Benefits of Addiction Treatment in Prison

Only a small percentage of inmates receive professional addiction treatment.  If treatment is provided, it is often inadequate.  Also, only 5% of inmates who need MAT for opioid addiction will get the medication.  

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains why addiction treatment in prisons can be successful:

“To be effective for this population, treatment must begin in prison and be sustained after release through participation in community treatment programs.”

This approach would reduce recidivism and drug-related crimes significantly.  It will also reduce the financial costs associated with re-arresting and incarcerating the same individuals repeatedly.  

Public safety and economic benefits can also be gained by well-implemented drug treatment in prisons.

Are You Ready to Quit Drugs? Design for Change Recovery Can Help 

Our mission at Design for Change Recovery is to help people stop drug abuse so they will avoid prison or overdose.  We accomplish this goal by providing the highest quality addiction treatment available today.  The methods we use are up-to-date, innovative, and proven to be effective.

Anyone struggling with substance use disorder will benefit from our customized treatment plan administered by skilled, compassionate professionals.  With a wide range of evidence-based therapies, our clients gain the skills, confidence, and motivation to maintain a sober lifestyle. 

Learn more about our addiction treatment programs by contacting our Lancaster, CA facility.  Our comprehensive program has many benefits you should know about.