One thing I have noticed over the past decade of representing clients in criminal court is the relationship between drugs and alcohol, and crime. While my observations are hardly scientific, it seems that generally speaking, most misdemeanor offenses involve alcohol – at least on the periphery. And most felonies involve drugs. Almost every domestic violence case that I have handled starts with a six pack of beer, or an officer’s observation of the smell of an alcoholic beverage on the Defendant’s breath, or bloodshot and watery eyes. Almost every theft is the result of a defendant’s need for cash – frequently, because it has already been spent on a drug bought off the street.

Another common problem is when a person has a psychological or physical disorder whether diagnosed or not, that is not properly treated. Often, the result is that person will take drugs off the street, or alcohol to “self medicate.” Even when people are prescribed medication to control the disorder, they sometimes fail to take the medication – or worse – take more than the dose that was prescribed. Each of these scenarios tends to get folks into trouble with the law.

Many times, the answer is simple. However, most of the time, a person with a substance abuse problem will not actually wake up to that fact until they have landed behind bars – in many instances, more than once.

If you feel like you or someone you know is falling into one of these patterns, reach out for help before it is too late. One local judge has commented often on the record that he finds it interesting how many people request help with substance abuse issues after they find themselves staring at a long period of time behind bars. Usually, a psychologist or psychiatrist can work with you, either by prescribing medication or sometimes by simply talking it out and helping you to change your everyday patterns and mode of thinking. There are groups everywhere that help people to beat addiction – However, they won’t find you, you must take the first step.

It seems that if you don’t address the issue head on, it is only a matter of time before you end up spending some time behind bars, or worse.

Drink responsibly. Don’t do drugs. In the end you will save money and often times, your freedom.