Lurking Danger! The Legal & Criminal Aspects of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Lurking Danger!  The Legal & Criminal Aspects of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Welcome to one of the most dangerous aspects of addiction. The possibility of getting caught in a criminal or legal complication is a hazard that is often ignored and usually not discussed until it’s too late.

Most addicts or alcoholics, and even the people in their lives, ignore these dangers when dealing with addiction. Yet, they are the ones that are affected and will suffer the most when something happens.

The actual addiction can be like the tip of an iceberg, a glimpse of the practical addiction issues while underneath lies a huge body of potential risks that may include death and destruction, accidents and injuries, and a vast assortment of legal and criminal possibilities that include jail and prison sentences.


When it comes to consequences of addiction, the biggest hazards don’t always point to the addiction itself; there is much more to legal and criminal risk than meets the eye.

Let’s look at Hurt and the Destruction of Relationships!

When someone engages in addiction, not only are they hurting themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually, but they are also hurting their family members, friends, co-workers, children, and loved ones.

They are essentially hurting everyone that is close to them, and in most cases, they destroy whatever relationship existed. Love, trust, reputation, and any chance of normalcy in their lives will become impossible.

Marriages will disintegrate, families broken, children confused and angry, it is a long path to an ending that is almost never happy.

In the case of employers, the damage is usually permanent, and the possibility of future employment is usually gone.  Depending on the employer and the quality of their previous relationship, the potential for a re-hire, referral, or recommendation will no longer be available.

The problems don’t stop there. When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they also tend to run the risk of getting into some serious legal or criminal trouble along the way.

Dangers and Outcomes


As many people know, engaging in addiction is ongoing and not just an isolated incident! Drug or alcohol addiction, on an ongoing basis, is like a ticking time bomb. It’s a matter of time before your number comes up and you make that fatal mistake.

Here is an example of a danger:

John joins some friends after work at a local bar. He stays longer than he planned and forgot about his family waiting at home. He drinks way more than he should and is now considered legally intoxicated.

John leaves the bar to drive home. In his intoxicated state, he thinks he can drive without a problem and sees no risk or need to ask for help or to call someone to drive him home.

As John drives through the city he passes into an intersection; the light is green; he doesn’t see a car running the red light and crashing into the side of his car.

The other driver and a passenger are both killed, but John survives with only a few scratches.  The other driver has no alcohol content in his blood analysis, but John’s shows that he is extremely intoxicated and well above the statutory level of alcohol content in the blood and is legally drunk in the eyes of the law.

John is held liable for the accident and charged with vehicular homicide due to his extreme intoxication. He has his day in court but is found guilty due to the evidence of his intoxication and sentenced to a long prison term.

It seems unfair. After all, the other guy ran the red light. However, in the eyes of the law, if you are impaired or intoxicated, either by alcohol or drugs, you are guilty.

John’s story is not a fictional account; it is a true incident and these kinds of things happen every day across the country. The outcome is almost always the same.

The legal and criminal problems affecting an addicted person could be as minor as a slap on the wrist from a police officer, a small fine from a judge, or as serious as lengthy jail or prison time that comes from physically hurting, harming, or injuring another individual while impaired.

Addiction is one of the worst things that anyone can do to themselves; not only because of the health ramifications that accompany it but also from the inevitable criminal and legal risk.

Addiction Leads to Criminal Activity


There are massive numbers of addicted people in jail which indicates that addiction does, in fact, lead to criminal activity.

There are criminals out there who are not currently, and never have been, addicted to any substance in their life.  There are also addicted individuals out there who have never, and will never, get in trouble legally as well.

But, it is a proven fact that in many criminal cases, addiction and the criminal activity go hand in hand.

Being addicted to a substance puts the user at risk for many different legal issues and criminal problems.  Some of these include theft, driving while under the influence, using, buying, and selling illegal drugs, getting into altercations and fights when intoxicated or on drugs, stealing while under the influence, destroying private and public property, and much, much more.

The list truly goes on and on and on. While under the influence, people engage in more fights, more arguments, and more outbursts than when they are not under the influence.

Moreover, studies have shown that the majority of people who rape and steal do so while under the influence.

Those who engage in criminal activities would not necessarily do the same thing while not under the influence, but there are a correlation and direct connection between criminal activity and addiction.

Addiction Is an Altered State


The problem with addiction is that it is an altered state. Not only are addicted individuals not in their right mind, but they are also different versions of themselves altogether.

Those who are addicted say and do things while under the influence that they would not normally say or do if they were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This fact is true for all types of people, no matter the age, demographic, gender, race, income level, education level, etc.

All people change while under the influence, and more often than not, this change is negative, violent, hurtful, self-destructive, and extremely damaging.

When someone is addicted to a substance, they engage in an act that is void of self-reflection. Value systems disappear in favor of satisfying the constant craving or urge.

Addicts lose their inhibitions and make rash decisions that might be out of character for them. And, this is the exact reason why so many people under the influence engage in criminal activity.

Many of these addicted people are not in their right minds, and this is where the real danger comes in. In some cases, people can become so addicted to a substance that they might not even remember what they did, what they said, and how they acted while under the influence.

Some of these addicted people “blackout” from their addiction, or simply have a lapse in memory while engaging in their addiction of choice. And, this is the point where many addicted people find themselves at risk for engaging in criminal activities that can lead to serious legal ramifications down the road.

Addiction Is Self-Destructive


Legal ramifications and criminal activities hurt the people surrounding the addicted individual, as well as the addicted person themselves.

When someone is addicted to a substance, they are engaging in self-destructive behavior. Addicts are destroying their lives as a result of their addiction, as well as the lives of others.

Some personal legal ramifications that addicted people experience include divorce, jail time, debt, car accidents, fire, insurance claims, etc.

Some examples of addicted people putting criminal charges on themselves by way of addiction include many examples.

Addicts can zone out and leave something cooking on the stove which can lead to a fire that damages property.  Theft or burglary are common. (especially when used to get money to support the addiction.)

Spousal abuse or child abuse are common in cases involving addicts. Car accidents are common, leading to injury or death. Another sad but common occurrence in addiction is a suicide attempt.

When someone is not in their right mind, and they are addicted to a substance, they will do what they need to do to either fulfill their addiction or worse.

That means, if they don’t have access to their drug of choice, they might do things that are criminally damaging just to get access to their drug of choice.

This behavior and attitude could include very serious things such as theft or murder, and could also include lesser, but still dangerous behaviors, such as driving under the influence.

All in all, no good can come from addiction, and more often than not, legal and criminal charges catch up to addicted individuals.

What Happens When An Addicted Individual Runs Out Of Money?

What happens when an addicted person cannot pay for their addiction? What do they do? Well, this is when a real danger starts to creep in.

Those who cannot pay for their addiction are the ones who engage in the most criminal behavior of all. Both women and men have been known to engage in prostitution to get their fix.

Other things that people do for their addiction include petty stealing, serious theft, and even extortion, bullying, and threats. People will do crazy things when addicted to a substance, things that are very un-humane at times.

Pawn shops are notorious for addicted individuals to frequent. People who are addicted and need money fast will do what they need to do to steal items that they can then pawn for cash to fuel their addiction.

There are many cases of addicted individuals who steal from their family members just to get their fix, going as far as to mortgage the house that they live in to get the money they need for their addiction.

The reality is that once someone is addicted to a substance, they will stop at nothing to get their needs met, and that is where the worst of the criminal and legal problems come into play.

People will lie, cheat, and steal from the ones that they love for their addiction, which means that their addiction takes priority in their lives. For an addicted individual, their love for others is not as important as the love they have for the addiction itself.

This love for the addiction leads to fights, arguments, and problems with family members and friends. It’s like an addicted person only has eyes for their addiction and nothing else.

If someone stands in the way of an addict getting his fix or his drink, he will do whatever is necessary to get that person out of the way.  It doesn’t matter who it is, a spouse, parent, or child, a battle will ensue.  Interfering with an addicts habit is where assault and abuse often come.

The family members and friends of addicted individuals want to do everything that they can to stop their loved one from being addicted, which is the most heartbreaking part of it all.

Reputations Suffer

When someone has an upstanding reputation in their community, city, town, or immediate area, they most likely want to do everything they can to uphold that stellar reputation for as long as possible.

For instance, people with a good reputation might have a great job, a wonderful family, a beautiful home, and more, but if they are addicted, their entire reputation could crumble in an instant.

When it comes to addiction, there is no right way to save it. The problem with reputation is that it is hard to get back once lost. With criminal charges and legal ramifications stemming from addiction, one’s reputation has the potential to suffer greatly.

There have been many cases of upstanding citizens who had amazing reputations in their communities but lost everything just because they suffered from a horrible addiction and behavior that led to their arrest.

For many people who have good reputations, getting arrested is one of the worst things that they could experience.

If someone has worked hard their entire life to create a life for themselves and their family; a life they can be proud of, the last thing that they want is an arrest on their record that stemmed from addictive behaviors.

Be it from getting a DUI, spending one or several nights in jail, incurring arrest records, and drawn-out or lengthy court cases, the damage to a reputation is severe and permanent.

Reputation is destroyed, and lives damaged by family estrangement, loss of employment, and from getting their house taken away because they are in too much debt from their addiction.

Addiction leads to a multitude of problems. Many of these problems stemming from addiction take the form of legal issues.

Within a community, a citizen who suffers from addiction can quickly get their reputation tarnished in so many ways.  The damage could be from a divorce, debt, unemployment, foreclosure, and more.

With addiction, there is truly a downward spiral that ensues, and the legal ramifications stemming from addiction tend to spiral out of control and destroy everything in their path.

The Link between Criminal Activity and Addiction

For many, it is a slippery slope. Once started on an addictive path, the addict cannot stop the addiction, nor can they stop the criminal activity that usually follows.

An example of addiction leading to crime.

Jane abused prescription drugs. She started slowly with legal prescriptions, but when the doctors recognized her addiction, they refused to prescribe these drugs for her.

She eventually found her way into the illegal drug trade and bought her drugs from various street sources.  The drugs were expensive, and she started having money problems and started selling some of these drugs to earn enough to buy her own.

As her need increased so did her costs, and so the activity spiraled out of control.  She was eventually caught in a drug raid and arrested. She had enough illegal drugs in her possession to reach the status of a dealer, and the penalties were harsh.

It started as a simple but growing habit and ended with the loss of her family and home and freedom.

It’s similar to a domino effect. Addiction and crime are the same.

Once an addict experiences criminal activity and jail or prison, they form relationships with other addicts and dealers during their incarceration, and they are more likely to return to the habit.

Returning to a life of addiction and crime can be partly because many people who have already experienced that life feel that they have no way out, especially if they are still addicted.

Many homeless and street people and those who live in shelters are where they are today because of their addiction that eventually led to their homelessness and criminal behaviors.

For instance, they might have started with an addiction; then they lost their job, they lost their spouse, their house, their children, and so on. It’s like a ripple effect, and it is hard to stop.

It’s the life of the addicted, the life that spirals out of control, and seems more empty and bleak with every passing day.

While many people think that addiction is isolated and innocuous, you can be sure that criminal activity and legal problems almost always follow.

Stopping an addiction is very difficult, even for those with the strongest of wills, and when someone is addicted, they make choices that they would otherwise not make if they were not addicted.

Most drug addicts or alcoholics are not concerned with the possibility of disaster with legal consequences; they only worry about fueling their addiction and satisfying that intense craving.

They do things that they would otherwise not do, and they make decisions that they would otherwise not make, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

But, when they cross to having criminal and legal problems, they have reached the point where starting over is the hardest of all.

The secret is to stay away from addiction and to be keenly aware of the strong link between addiction and probable criminal activity and legal problems.

A great addiction recovery and treatment center usually cannot help you with your criminal and legal problems once they start, but a good piece of advice is to get in touch as fast as you can if you have an addiction or someone you know has an addiction.

“The best defense is a good offense!”

The professionals at Chateau Recovery understand this problem, and they are skilled at evaluating the addiction as well as the possible legal dangers.

Please call our Helpline now and let us assist you with your problem.

Chateau Recovery Center 375 Rainbow Lane

Midway, UT 84049, USA Phone: +1 435-654-1082

If you or someone you love has questions concerning the rehabilitation process, call our free helpline Phone: +1 888-971-2986 for more information. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.

Please call our toll-free helpline which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by experienced and caring professionals who can answer your questions and help you navigate through the process of evaluating and securing a treatment program for your suffering loved one.

Please take a minute to read the Chateau Mission Statement

Whole Self

You may have been trying to convince everyone around you that you are not one-dimensional and don’t have simple problems.  We understand and agree. Substance abuse is often an attempt to solve problems in one or more of these dimensions. Superficial labels and rigid diagnoses alone often ignore our humanity and often create shame, reactivity, and exclusion.

Your recovery requires flexibility and hope!  

Understanding and treating all dimensions of your experience – with therapy, peer support, “safe” fun and adventure, healthy living, experiential learning – help you get “unstuck” by opening up to new perspectives and creative opportunities to help yourself.

So here is our philosophy, as reduced as possible: every human being is composed of multiple internal systems.  Substance use and its lifestyle consequences affect most, if not all, of these systems.

One of our goals, at Chateau Recovery, is to educate and empower you and your family/support network, so no one gets “stuck” in painful patterns of blame, denial and attempts to control one another.

In the same way that your problems are not “simple,” the solution also requires vigilance, consistent practice, empathy, and resilience. Most individuals, or sometimes families, don’t slow down long enough to examine each dimension themselves.  The very act of slowing down and taking a closer look creates more insight and appreciation for overlooked details.  At Chateau Recovery, we remove the distractions and create an environment to help you slow down and examine Mental and Emotional Wellness, Biological Wellness, Family System Wellness, Social and Interpersonal Wellness, and Transcendence.  Each of these meaningful areas needs attention and healing.

Here are some important videos that could give you a first hand look at the legal and criminal aspects of addiction:

The Opioid Epidemic: Addiction and Drug-Related Crime

Addiction and drug-related crimes are all too common these days due to the opioid epidemic. Are you or a loved one in this situation?

Drug Addiction and Crime

A video about drug addiction and crime.

Mom Confronts Son About Heroin Addiction – Crime Watch Daily With Chris Hansen

Chris Hansen talks to Lynn Regan, the mother of heroin addict Daniel Regan, about her son’s heroin addiction. She confronted him with authorities and got him help.