Connection Between Alcohol and Violence
There are many reasons to wonder why alcohol and abuse go hand in hand. While not all alcohol users are aggressive, there seems to be a genuine connection to individuals who drink and become violent while doing so. Numerous studies have been used to show the issues in which alcohol can change the mood receptors within the brain. When alcoholic beverages are consumed in large amounts, it may deactivate the mood control sensor entirely and cause violent outbursts.
Robert O. Pihl, a professor at McGill University who teaches psychology and psychiatry, discussed the link between alcohol use and violence. He stated that alcohol is involved in over half of the cases of rape, murder, and assaults. Although, there is a correlation, it is complicated and research to determine the relationship between these is important for everyone to know and understand.
“Statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism from 2015 corroborate Pihl’s statement:
- 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 were assaulted by another student who had been drinking
- 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 reported experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape”
There are often traumatic incidences in which alcoholics by themselves are triggered by being under the influence of alcohol, and negative consequences occur during the process. Stumbling, knocking objects over and slipping are incidents that commonly happen that can relate to the effects of abusing alcohol. Many of those that turn violent after long periods of binging alcohol, do not recall, or remember their actions, making it even harder and more challenging for the individual to work past. Rather they will perpetrate these behavior throughout a blackout, that is more harmful nevertheless there is simply no cognitive inhibition.
Anger and Aggression
Typically, the feeling that people have is anger, and the outlet for that feeling is aggression. It is a response to a situation that causes us to be angry or upset, triggering us to become violent or aggressive. People who tend to be angry, will seek out situations and stimuli that cause them to become angry, resulting in aggressive, or abusive behaviors. This would explain the reason behind why you are angrier in general, than in someone who does not have this personality trait.
If you have inherited the trait of anger, violence is inevitably more likely to occur in your life as a result of this trait. Certain triggers, not only a drug or alcohol problem, can trigger these feelings to surface and aggression may be a result of these deep feelings. Anger is the feeling itself, but aggression is the response to these strong feelings that you are having.
Why Alcohol and Abuse go Hand in Hand
There are reasons that alcohol and abuse go hand in hand. Someone who becomes intoxicated, will naturally experience their typical tendencies because of the way that alcohol works in the body. If you are an angry person, and you use alcohol, the natural response that your body will have is to become angry, defensive, and possibly aggressive. Many people who suffer from alcoholism, are also diagnosed with a dual diagnosis of other co occurring mental health disorders.
In a study from that National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Based on published studies, Roizen (3) summarized the percentages of violent offenders who were drinking at the time of the offense as follows: up to 86 percent of homicide offenders, 37 percent of assault offenders, 60 percent of sexual offenders, up to 57 percent of men and 27 percent of women involved in marital violence, and 13 percent of child abusers.” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1998)
Alcohol use can cause your self-control to become severely weakened, and your inhibitions may be out of control. If you generally express your anger in an outward way, such as with aggression or violence, then alcohol will typically increase the likelihood of this happening. Your body begins to have a heightened response to what is going on while intoxicated, and the natural tendencies of the person will come out, usually in a more intense way.
Some of the most common occurrences of alcohol use and crimes include driving while under the influence. Although, many other violent crimes occur as a result of alcohol use including:
- Sexual assault
- Intimate partner violence
- Domestic abuse
- Aggravated assault
- Child abuse
Alcoholism and Family Abuse
Alcohol use increases the chance for domestic violence, when one or both people in the relationship have a high trait anger and poor management skills. It has also been noted that men with these traits have a higher instance of sexual aggression in instances where alcohol is involved.
“A population-based study in Brazil found that the aggressor was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the event in over half of the identified cases of domestic violence . The literature includes several other studies that suggest an association between alcohol consumption and violent behavior among intimate partners. (Gebara, et. al, 2015)
There is no question that alcohol abuse contributes to not only marital problems such as domestic violence, but other family violence due to excess drinking. For example, a man who excessively drinks may be more likely to abuse his children, spouse, or other family member physically or mentally. A mother who is drinking to excess can be neglectful to her children or become so incoherent that they drop their young baby by accident.
Drinking has the possibility to adjust a person’s mood as with all other drugs. Nevertheless, one of the more known negative effects of drinking is that it may result in drinkers turning aggressive. Several problems connected with family abuse are due to the person’s drinking habits. Along with these struggles, the instances of abuse can cause family members to develop PTSD and other trauma, which in turn will cause them to need to get help for their struggles with their mental health.
Treatment and Recovery for Alcohol Abuse and Substance Abuse
There are many alcohol addiction treatment and therapy programs available to treat alcohol abuse and substance abuse, so that you can understand the reason behind your addiction and learn the proper coping strategies to handle these feelings and triggers. Therapies such as counseling, a support group and treatment, or rehab can help to treat the symptoms that occur due to abuse of substances, and how it affects your mental health. With proper treatment you will be able to become sober and alcohol-free, allowing you to live a healthier life.
The first step in getting help for your addiction, is to speak with a doctor or mental health professional to determine the extent of your substance use disorder and see what their diagnosis is. From there, your therapist will develop a treatment plan and level of care that is needed to combat your addiction and help you be successful in your recovery.
Gebara, et.al. (2015, 24 Sept). BMC Womens Health. Patterns of domestic violence and alcohol consumption among women and the effectiveness of a brief intervention in a household setting: a protocol study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4582621/
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (1997, October). Alcohol Alert. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa38.htm