Alcohol plays a prominent role in violence. Research authenticates the existence of a very strong empirical and conceptual association between criminal activity and the abuse of alcohol. Studies of arrestees and criminal justice populations consistently find high rates of alcohol and illicit drug use.
The first hand information obtained from inmates confirms the strong alliance between drug use and crime.
According to self-reports from 14,000 state and 6,600 federal prison inmates, 24 percent of federal inmates and 49 percent of state inmates reported that they were under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs at the time of their current offense. In state prisons, 32 percent of inmates reported being under the influence of alcohol and 31 percent confirmed the influence of drugs, when they committed their current offense. Numerous studies have revealed that problem drinkers, alcohol abusers and alcoholics appear to be over-represented among adults convicted of violent crimes. Also, people convicted of violent crime often report alcohol consumption immediately prior to their crime.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism asserts that people who commence drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent than individuals who started drinking at the age of 21. In general, adolescents lack control over alcohol consumption and therefore show higher incidence of violent behavior. Domestic violence is another very common repercussion of alcoholism. However, the magnitude of the relationship between alcohol and domestic violence is still ambiguous. Studies on cases of wife assaults have yielded wide-ranging estimates of 6 to 85 percent of the total account of wife assaults that are alcohol involved. Alcohol has also been part of about 40 percent of the violent victimizations of a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, and about 20 to 25 percent of victims who were strangers, acquaintances, or non-intimate relatives to the violent offender reported that person to have been drinking.
Road accidents are another worrying implication of alcohol abuse. The intake of alcohol changes the psyche of the driver, which in turn results in motor vehicle crashes. High alcohol consumption decreases the driver’s performance, increases the risk taking behavior and decreases the chance of survival of occupants involved in crashes. As a consequence, the combination of drinking and driving results in one injury every minute and one death every 32 minutes. The nation's trauma centers are weighed down by the number of inebriated drivers each week. The majorities of people injured have either been under the influence of alcohol or were hit by someone who was drinking at the time. Approximately 40% of traffic related deaths are related to alcohol. This percentage signifies approximately 16,000 deaths in the United States per year.
Alcohol is attributed to about 50 percent of violent crimes, where the doer had been drinking. This category involves a total of about 30 percent of homicides and assaults and 22.5 percent of sexual assaults. Not far behind are one-tenth of property crimes, which account for about 3 to 4 percent of all such crimes, are also accredited to drinkers. These statistics leave no scope for doubting that alcohol abuse is grossly responsible for many criminal activities, be it as minor as jumping a traffic signal or as major as an assault leading to death.
Even a moderate intake of alcohol weakens our reflexes and one tends to lose self control. Imagine what a trance an alcoholic is under. No wonder even human life seems trivial!
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