As the drug problem through the United States continues to intensify, there are more addicts and alcoholics than ever desperate for treatment. To meet the continually rising demand for addiction treatment, more drug treatment centers are cropping up in communities across the nation. While the intentions of these facilities may be to help addicts and alcoholics find recovery and stunt the growth of the opioid epidemic, many of these facilities are being met with adversity.
Communities have expressed their disappointment with the presence of these drug treatment centers. It may seem counterintuitive considering these very communities are the ones suffering the most from the plights of addiction. But the general consensus is that drug treatment facilities may, in fact, worsen crime rates and various social issues in the areas in which they spring up. But with all of the hype behind treatment centers being the harbingers of crime: is there actually a connection?
The NIMBY Issue
The main reason that so many facilities are being met with such dissension is the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) stance. Essentially, though desperate for answers and assistance, these communities just do not want these facilities located close by. However, addicts and alcoholics still need a place to go to seek help from the quandary of addiction.
While it is true that crime often does go hand-in-hand with addiction, drawing the same conclusions about drug treatment centers is just not accurate. In fact, this particular hot-button issue is under so much scrutiny. As a result of the high rates of overdose-related deaths this year, one professor took it upon herself to look more closely into the data.
Battle For Baltimore: Treatment and Crime
In a recent study, “Not in My Back Yard: A Comparative Analysis of Crime Around Publicly Funded Drug Treatment Centers, Liquor Stores, Convenience Stores, and Corner Stores in One Mid-Atlantic City” published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Debra Furr-Holden, Ph.D., collected and analyzed data regarding whether a correlation between drug treatment center presence and crime exists.
Her findings stated that these NIMBY community members should be far more concerned with the presence of liquor stores than that of a drug treatment center. There is, in fact, no direct link between crime rates and addiction treatment facilities.
Drug Treatment Centers and Violence
Furr-Holden first examined data relating to violent crime, which is defined as homicide, manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. This information was then plotted on a map and compared in the frequency of occurrence within 1,400 feet from drug treatment centers, liquor stores, convenience stores, and corner stores. The results were shocking to naysayers.
When the mean number of violent crimes was calculated for all of these establishments, it was found that the same number of crimes were committed near convenience stores as addiction facilities. The data also suggested that 38 percent more violent crimes occurred near liquor stores and 31 percent more near corner stores.
Can Drug Treatment Centers Actually LOWER Crime?
More interesting, still, is the notion that drug treatment centers may actually have an impact on crime, but not in the way that you think. Another interesting study conducted by Travis A. Taniguchi, Redlands Police Department, and Christopher Salvatore, Department of Justice Studies at Montclair State University, revealed that the presence of drug treatment centers may actually lower crime rates in the surrounding community.
According to their findings, drug treatment centers may act as a deterrent for criminals. While outwardly the presence of addiction treatment centers may appear to attract crime, having addicts and drug dealers congregate in one area, it is actually the opposite. There has been no consistent evidence to demonstrate a direct correlation to treatment centers and an increase in community-based drug crime.
How Do Drug Treatment Centers Help the Community?
The presence of treatment centers may instead act as crime reducers. This is done by the mechanism known as “territorial functioning.” Territorial functioning refers to the system of people or groups that create bonds that focus on providing control in an area. It concerns who maintains access to a designated area and what types of activities occur within its vicinity.
Particular areas with a higher territorial functioning could make identifying who and what does or does not fit in easier. Thus, it causes the facilitation of access to and activities conducted in the area.
Since treatment centers possess a full staff of clinical professionals and employees whose jobs revolve around the protection and healing of their addicted clientele, these people act as impromptu place managers. In the interest of creating and maintaining a safe space for their clients, their presence may, in fact, deter crime due to their higher propensity of observing and reporting suspicious activities.
Supply and Demand
Also, as a result of the addicts being actively enrolled in a treatment program, it is expected that their use is either completely stopped or significantly lowered, subsequently reducing their need to commit crimes to obtain their drugs. Drug-related crimes committed by the addicts themselves are directly correlated to their need to obtain their illicit drugs or money to purchase these substances.
The idea is that if they don’t need the drugs, they would have no reason to turn to crime. Less drug use in the area would also reduce competition among dealers to possess the territory and less drug distribution entirely, simultaneously lowering systematic violence.
The study also goes on to say that treatment centers cannot be the only type of business called into question as well. Any commercial land use has the tendency to raise or lower crime rates in the surrounding area by means of territorial functioning. To call treatment centers into question, one must call other types of commercial land development into question as well.
In the end, the study presented the findings that, when adjusted for demographics and land use, the relationship between treatment center presence and crime rates is actually negative. That’s right, crime rates around treatment centers saw a 0.008 percent decrease. While this may not be particularly significant, the correlation between drug treatment centers and crime is minute. But nevertheless, the presence of a treatment center may actually lower crime!
What is Next?
Ultimately, the findings from various scholarly studies have stated there is no true discernible link between DTC presence and crime. Instead, many of these programs are helping provide support and healing to millions of struggling addicts and alcoholics across the nation, like Maryland House Detox (MHD)!
If you or someone you know is currently suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, MHD is here for you. By calling 855-928-0596 today, you’ll be connected to one of our professional and knowledgeable staff members who can walk you through the admissions process and get you enrolled in our treatment program! Don’t delay; our admissions professionals are standing by 24/7 ready to answer your call and get you back on track towards a happy and healthy life!