A Critical Examination of Prescription and Illicit Drug Abuse Enforcement in America

Samantha Gwinn, SDPD Crime Analysis

Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that is present in virtually every neighborhood across America. Although the effects can be physically and financially devastating, this problem is seldom discussed or addressed by the greater law enforcement community. While illicit drug addicts end up in prison for drug-related crimes, prescription drug abusers are typically wealthy or middle-class people who will most likely end up in rehab instead of in jail. The physical and psychological effects of prescription drugs and illicit drugs are almost identical, but these two groups are treated differently by law enforcement and by society in general. This paper is a critical examiunation of drug abuse enforcement, and the possible causes for differential treatment of various types of drugs, both historically and presently. The analysis of current enforcement patterns includes the use of GIS to illustrate the socio-economic characteristics of the areas of San Diego in which the two types of addicts reside.

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Updated 05/20/2006