Order of onset of drug use and criminal activities in a sample of drug-abusing women convicted of violent crimes


  • Danilo Antonio Baltieri

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
    2. Department of Neuroscience of ABC Medical School, São Paulo, Brazil
    • Correspondence to Professor Danilo Antonio Baltieri, Sexual Disorders Outpatient Clinic, Department of Psychiatry, ABC Medical School, Avenida Angélica, n° 2100, conjunto 13, Santo André, São Paulo 01228-200, Brazil. Tel: +551131206896; Fax: +551131206896; E-mail: dbaltieri@uol.com.br

    Search for more papers by this author

  • Danilo Antonio Baltieri, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor.


Introduction and Aims

This study aims to explore the temporal relationship between age of onset of substance use and criminal activity in women convicted of violent crimes as well as to subdivide them into clinically significant groups to which tailored treatment can be guided.

Design and Method

Of the 353 female inmates randomised for this study, 38 (10.8%) refused to participate and 182 (51.6%) met inclusion criteria. Data were obtained only from substance-abusing female inmates serving a sentence for robbery or homicide in a female penitentiary in Brazil. Participant information was gathered through face-to-face interviews during which alcohol and drug abuse, impulsiveness levels, depressive symptoms, and criminological aspects were investigated.


. Age of first alcohol and drug use significantly preceded the age of onset of criminal activities in the overall sample. Onset ages of alcohol and drug use problems significantly preceded the beginning of criminal activities in women convicted of homicide only. Latent Class Analysis resulted in two groups: cluster 1 (n= 122; 67%), early-onset alcohol and drug users; and cluster 2 (n= 60; 33%), late-onset alcohol and drug users. Higher depression levels, higher incidence of committing robbery and less official history of recidivism were associated with cluster 1 inmates.

Discussion and Conclusions

The temporal relationship between the onset age of alcohol/drug use problems and age of the beginning of criminal activities can set apart women convicted of robbery from those convicted of homicide. Further, a distinctive therapeutic approach to early- and late-onset offenders may be valuable. [Baltieri DA. Order of onset of drug use and criminal activities in a sample of drug-abusing women convicted of violent crimes. Drug Alcohol Rev 2014;33:202–210]