Alcohol Use and Violence
Alcohol consumption is more closely associated with violent behavior than any other substance. In fact, severe alcohol intoxication—by the perpetrator, victim, or both—plays a part in nearly half of all violent crimes and sexual assaults.
As indicated above, intoxication alone does not cause violence, but it may increase the likelihood for violent behavior in some individuals. Researchers have a few theories, including:
1. The disinhibition hypothesis. Alcohol encourages people to engage in behaviors they would typically suppress, like aggression. This is because alcohol disrupts normal brain function and consequently weakens the areas that control impulses and urges.
2. Alcohol myopia. An intoxicated individual’s focus narrows like a camera lens, only bringing a small frame into focus. For some, this narrowed view leads to misperception. A bump in a bar, for instance, may be perceived as an act of hostility.
3. Cognitive function impairment. Alcohol interrupts cognitive processing, making it difficult to problem-solve, control anger, and make good decisions—all of which influence how an individual responds to a situation.
4. The consideration of future consequences. Research indicates that individuals who ignore future consequences and focus on the here-and-now are more aggressive when intoxicated.
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CITATION: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism No. 38 October 1997 https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa38.htm
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