populations of drug users with criminal activities emphasized that most of the crimes committed showed intentions of generating income. However, this evidence is not only an unreliable indicator of the overall drug population but also widely outdated, Hayhurst said.

Past research failed to use a comparison group of non-opiate-users and without clinical studies that include equivalent groups, it isn’t possible to establish whether opiate use or any drug use is associated with additional crime.

Researchers added that onset opiate use is linked to accelerating criminal activity for individuals who had pre-existing criminal offenses and that there’s a need for updated, systematically suitable research if the connection between drug use and criminal misconduct continues to be made by policymakers.    

“There’s a surprising lack of robust evidence focusing specifically on pathways through opiate use and offending,” Hayhurst concluded.