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There is an intimate relationship between drugs and criminal behavior. The drug-violence relationship is further complicated by intoxicating doses and/or withdrawal effects of specific drugs. Understanding this relationship is important for both healthcare workers and policy makers.


The study was conducted in Prayas observation home for boys, a short stay home for juveniles-under-enquiry in New Delhi. The present study aims to correlate substance use and criminal behavior by investigating the sociodemographic characteristics and the current trend of substance use among juveniles in New Delhi. In this study, 487 detained juveniles aged between 8 and 18 years were included. The information was obtained by face-to-face semi-structured interviews and juvenile case records maintained by the juvenile home.


Out of 487 juveniles-under-enquiry booked under different crimes, 86.44% of the sample had a history of substance use. Consumption of tobacco and cannabis were higher when compared to other drugs. Consumption of psychotropic drugs though relatively lesser was related with more serious crimes. There is an increasing trend in serious crimes such as rape, murder/attempt to murder, and burglary committed by juveniles. Drug-crime correlation has been noted among consumption of cannabis with murder, inhalants with rape and opioids with snatching-related crimes.


Substance use and criminal behavior are clearly interrelated. Greater the involvement in substance abuse, more severe is the violence and criminality. This paper highlights this complex relationship and suggests possible scope of interventions.