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Pathways through drugs and crime: desistance, trauma and resilience

Hammersley, Richard


Richard Hammersley


Purpose: To develop theoretical understandings of pathways through drugs and crime. Method: Critical and theoretical review. Content: Discourse about drugs and crime tends to focus either on delinquency, nowadays including some drug use, or on drug dependence. There are other pathways through drugs and crime, which deserve further exploration, not forgetting that most people desist from offending, or that drug dependence is a relatively rare outcome of drug use. A notable pathway involves a temporary period of intense substance use and offending which often remits without intervention. It is hypothesised that such periods are often caused by traumatic life events, or the persisting effects of earlier trauma, and that intense use converts to more protracted drug dependence when trauma and/or its effects continue. One way that this can happen is that drug use itself causes or perpetuates trauma and, then, use continues to cope with the negative psychological effects of trauma, in a vicious circle. Conclusions: There is need to assess and treat trauma amongst substance users and to avoid over treating intense substance use that might remit untreated. Normative adult substance use outcomes need to be researched and theorised.


Hammersley, R. (2011). Pathways through drugs and crime: desistance, trauma and resilience. Journal of Criminal Justice, 39(3), 268-272.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2011-05
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Journal Of Criminal Justice
Print ISSN 0047-2352
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 3
Pages 268-272
Keywords Heroin users,
Public URL