My Son is Going to Prison

drug crime statistics

An addiction to drugs can take control of a young man’s life and that can lead to devastating consequences. The statistics for imprisonment reveal that drug offenses, particularly for males, are significantly higher than for any other crime. When your son is going to prison, you are undoubtedly drained emotionally and possibly even financially. You are not alone in your concerns.

Drug Crimes by the Numbers

Across the country, drug crime statistics continue to climb. As of October 2021, the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported that there are 67,115 people in prison for drug offenses, almost half of the total prison population. Offenses for weapons, explosives, and arson had the second highest number, with 30,144 or just over 20%. Overall, for all offenses listed, there are 144,915 men in prison, or 93% of the prison population.

Drug Abuse Arrests

The Office of Juvenile Justice reports that there was a total of 1,558,860 arrests for drug abuse violations in 2019. Of those, 1,162,790 were males. Teenage males ages 17 and under accounted for 60,060 arrests for drug abuse violations. Among adult males, 127,420 were between the ages of 18 and 20, 161,240 were between the ages of 21 and 24, and 814,060 were ages 25 and older.

Particularly disturbing among the drug crime statistics is that the arrests for drug abuse violations of males between the ages of 18 and 20 occurred at a rate of 1,939.4 per 100,000, and between the ages of 21 and 24 drug abuse arrests occurred at a rate of 1,815.4 per 100,000.

California Drug Crime Statistics

In the state of California in 2019, drug offenses are the biggest category of arrests for misdemeanor offenses. Just over a fourth of the 758,000 arrests in 2019 were for drug offenses. Alcohol-related offenses accounted for an additional 8% of those misdemeanor arrests.

A separate report found that California had the highest percentage across all states in the US of teenagers who were offered, given, or sold an illegal drug on school property.

Drug-Related Offenses

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the prison population in the US is substantial and the high numbers are strongly connected to drug-related offenses. Research has shown that an estimated 65% of the prison population has a substance use disorder. Another 20% was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they committed their crime, even though they may not have had a diagnosed substance use disorder.

A Known Contributor to Violent Crimes

Beyond the arrests for use of illegal drugs, many individuals face prison sentences for crimes they committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In 2020, the rate of violent crimes, including aggravated assault and murder, increased dramatically. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), drug trafficking is known as a significant contributor to those violent crimes.

Even more devastating is the data showing that over 81,000 individuals in the US died of a drug overdose between May 2019 and May 2020. Overdose deaths have also increased significantly over the past year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support for Your Son

When your son is going to prison as one of the individuals who used drugs and was arrested for a drug-related offense, it can be heartbreaking for you and your entire family. Supporting your son during this stressful time means encouraging him to get the help he needs to overcome his substance use disorder.

Many parents find themselves in an unending cycle of bailing out their son each time he is arrested, even though he promises never to use drugs again. It is important to stay strong and to set boundaries for yourself and your son, even during this most difficult time.

Addiction is almost impossible to overcome alone. If your son is going to prison, there may be options for him to learn how to get and stay clean during his time there.

The best time to get treatment, though, is before the drugs are able to influence your son toward a life of self-destruction and crime. When you and your son seek the help that he needs to overcome his addiction, he will learn how to live a healthier, more fulfilling life without being dependent on the harmful substances.

Addiction and Mental Health Support for Men

If your son is experiencing substance use or mental health issues, we can help get him back on track with his life. At PACE Recovery, we optimize each person’s recovery success with integrated treatment that will address both their addiction to drugs or alcohol and their mental health issues. We address the whole person, including spiritual, medical, psychosocial, and relational facets.

The professionals at PACE understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health and addiction services, contact our Admissions team.