Correlation to Crime and Violence
The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (1995) describes the relationship of crime and violence to alcohol and other drug use:
"Crime is inextricably related to alcohol and other drugs. More than 1.1 million annual arrests for illicit drug violations, almost 1.4 million annual arrests for driving while intoxicated, 480,000 arrests for liquor law violations and 704,000 arrests for drunkenness come to a total of 4.3 million arrests for alcohol and other drug statutory crimes. That total accounts for over one-third of all arrests in this country.
The impaired judgment and violence induced by alcohol contribute to alcohol-related crime. Rapes, fights, and assaults leading to injury, manslaughter, and homicide often are linked with alcohol because the perpetrator, the victim, or both, were drinking. . . .
Many perpetrators of violent crime were also using illicit drugs. Some of these drugs, such as PCP and steroids, may induce violence. These drugs can also be a catalyst for aggressive-prone individuals who exhibit violent behavior as result of taking them.
The need for preventing alcohol and other drug problems is clear when the following statistics are examined:
- Alcohol is a key factor in up to 68 percent of manslaughters, 62 percent of assaults, 54 percent of murders/attempted murders, 48 percent of robberies, and 44 percent of burglaries.
- Among jail inmates, 42.2 percent of those convicted of rape reported being under the influence of alcohol or alcohol and other drugs at the time of the offense.
- Over 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women arrested for property crimes (burglary, larceny, robbery) in 1990, who were voluntarily tested, tested positive for illicit drug use.
- In 1987, 64 percent of all reported child abuse and neglect cases in New York City were associated with parental alcohol and other drug abuse.
We cannot put a monetary value on the human lives and suffering associated with alcohol and other drug problems. But we know the child welfare and court costs needed to deal with the consequences of these problems are substantial. The cost to arrest, try, sentence, and incarcerate those found guilty for these 4.3 million alcohol- and other drug-related offenses is a tremendous drain on our nation's resources."
Casement, St. George, Tallent, and Bonnett (1994) describe a complex chain of interconnections that appears to link violence with alcohol and other drug use:
According to Cohen, Baer, and Satterwhite (1991), theories concerning the relationship between violence and substance abuse can be categorized as (1) causal, (2) common origin, or (3) complex interplay. Most observers agree that the degree to which alcohol or other drugs affects violent behavior depends on a variety of biological, environmental, and cultural factors. According to the common origin theory, both AOD-related problems and violent acts could be the result of multiple factors such as a dysfunctional family environment, socioeconomic conditions, power issues, and discrimination. The complex interplay theory suggests that violence, drugs, and other factors exacerbate each another.
- Alcohol and other drug abuse precedes violence when abusers who need money to support their habits commit crimes that may result in injury or death.
- Violence precedes alcohol and other drug abuse when people become substance abusers to blunt post-traumatic stress that results from being a victim or a witness to violence, or to prevent their own violent tendencies.
- Drug trafficking is related to both violence and alcohol and other drug abuse.
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