Crime, Illegal Drugs, and Mental Health

  • Joana Corrêa de Magalhães Narvaez
  • Caroline Galli Moreira
  • Fernando Rosa da Rosa
Reference work entry
Part of the Mental Health and Illness Worldwide book series (MHIW)


This chapter is about the complex connections between drugs, violence, criminality, and mental illness. To approach this theme, we recall the history of drug from the perspective of the amplified social context involving illness and public policies that guide the discussion about violence and drugs insertion in urban setting. Drug use, manifestations of crime, and the development of mental illness are socially produced symptoms and the way they are expressed in our current society indicate vulnerabilities and dysfunctionalities of the urban organization. The etiology of the problem is complex and based on a society with marked differences. Drugs bring to light a circuit of illegality and criminality, forming a parallel system of laws and punishment. The mental illness can add damages to inhibitory control, increase impulsivity and emotional instability, leaving the users more exposed to violence outcomes. The criminality can designate a stigma without a clear distinction between the evolutionary phases of substance dependence, which inhibits the development of therapies directed to different profiles. Prevention and treatment of these conditions are as broad and multicausal as the problem itself. So, we proposed a theoretical model of functional staging of drug users to identify a clinical expression associated with vulnerabilities and violence expression. Anyway, the treatment to substance abuse should not configure an exclusion of these aspects that can make up the user profile and its relationship with society. The analysis of violent contexts should include socioenvironmental factors that should not be reduced to the social group where it is manifested. The association of drugs with violence may be an aspect that highlights the emphasis it has on the current social context. It also indicates the need to develop public health policies that address drugs, violence, and mental illness in a more holistic way.


Drugs Crime Violence Public policies Treatment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joana Corrêa de Magalhães Narvaez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Caroline Galli Moreira
    • 2
    • 3
  • Fernando Rosa da Rosa
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratório de Psiquiatria MolecularNational Institute for Translational Medicine, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Federal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, Federal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Brasilian Psychiatric AssociationFlorianópolisBrazil
  4. 4.Social Service for the Industry (SESI-RS)Porto AlegreBrazil

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