Data suggests that engaging in prolonged drinking or binge drinking significantly increases your risk of committing violent offenses.
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What Are Alcohol-Related Crimes?
Alcohol plays a large role in criminal activities and violence. Excessive drinking has the ability to lower inhibitions, impair a person’s judgement and increase the risk of aggressive behaviors. Because of this, alcohol-related violence and crime rates are on the rise throughout the country.
Over the past several decades, researchers have examined the relationship between alcohol, drugs and crime. Data suggests that engaging in prolonged drinking or binge drinking significantly increases your risk of committing violent offenses. Giving in to the harmful effects of alcohol can change your life in an instant. Not only are you jeopardizing your future, you are also putting others in danger. Criminal activities come with severe consequences such as time in jail, legal fees and other court-ordered penalties.
A number of individuals that serve time in jail have committed alcohol-related crimes. Offenses range from minor to serious and include property crime, public-order offenses, driving while intoxicated, assault and homicide. On average, roughly 40 percent of inmates who are incarcerated for violent offenses were under the influence of alcohol during the time of their crime. Many of these criminals had an estimated blood alcohol content (BAC) level of more than three times the legal limit at the time of their arrest.
Types of Crimes Associated With Alcohol
Some of the most common alcohol-related crimes involve cases of drinking and driving. However, there are a variety of other offenses that can result from alcohol abuse.
Several examples of criminal activities associated with excessive alcohol use are:
Many cities across the United States have seen a steady increase in robberies and property-related crime. A number of these robberies – roughly 15 percent – have been linked to alcohol use. Alcohol can intensify a robber’s feelings of desperation and cause them to steal someone’s money or property. While some robbers desire a better lifestyle or want to make a quick buck, others can turn into repeat offenders. The consequences of robbing someone are harsh and may entail time in jail, criminal charges on your record, fines and other legal troubles.
A sexual assault is a forced sexual act and may involve touching, kissing and intercourse. An estimated 37 percent of sexual assaults and rapes are committed by offenders who were under the influence of alcohol. For perpetrators, drinking may intensify their aggressive behavior. This can make them become more forceful when someone tries to resist them. Sexual assault can occur when there is a lack of consent, as well as when the victim is unable to give consent due to intoxication or mental state.
A common warning sign of alcohol abuse is irritability and extreme mood swings. Because of this, some individuals turn violent after an episode of heavy drinking. Poor decisions and impaired judgment, combined with aggression and hostility, can quickly become dangerous. If violent thoughts and feelings are acted on, it can lead to an aggravated assault charge. About 27 percent of aggravated assaults are committed by individuals who have used alcohol. Aggravated assault means causing serious injury, such as bodily harm to another person. Criminal charges are much stricter if a weapon is involved.
Intimate partner violence
Alcohol can play a dangerous role in intimate partner violence, leading to aggression, intimidation, forced sexual activity and other forms of controlling behavior. Intimate partner violence happens when a romantic partner causes physical, psychological or sexual harm to their significant other. An estimated two-thirds of victims suffering from violence by a current or former spouse or partner report that the perpetrator had been drinking, compared to less than one-third of stranger victimizations. Having a partner who is a heavy drinker can cause significant hardships, including financial difficulties, child care problems, infidelity, as well as other challenges.
Stress, money trouble, professional instability and a host of other factors can influence the amount of alcohol a person consumes. However, alcoholism not only affects an individual, it impacts family members and friends – including children. Research studies have shown a link between parents who abuse alcohol and the risk of child neglect and abuse. Roughly four in ten child abusers have admitted to being under the influence of alcohol during the time of the offense. Children who are victimized at a young age have an increased risk of developing behavioral and physical problems as they get older.
Alcohol is involved in more homicides across the United States compared to other substances, like heroin and cocaine. In fact, about 40 percent of convicted murderers had used alcohol before or during the crime. Excessive drinking can lead to more severe forms of violence that can quickly escalate to extremely dangerous situations. The short- and long-term effects of alcohol blur a person’s mental state, contributing to an increased risk of committing violent crimes. There are strict legal punishments in place for homicide convictions and can land you in jail for many years, or even the rest of your life.
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Treatment Programs for Alcoholism
Communities across the nation are stepping up in an effort to reduce and prevent harmful alcohol-related criminal activities. Some of the initiatives include public education, alcoholism assessments and treatment programs.
Getting treatment is the best way to overcome an alcohol use disorder (AUD). A recovery program will be able to help you quit drinking and provide various types of therapy for other underlying conditions that may trigger your alcohol problem. For example, if you become violent and aggressive after drinking, treatment specialists will be able to work with you on anger management skills. They may also recommend different activities to help you relax such as exercise, meditation and music therapy. It’s important to realize that recovery doesn’t happen overnight and takes commitment after you’ve left rehab. However, there are plenty of on-going recovery programs that will motivate you in maintaining your sobriety and living a healthy life.
Nearly 10,000 people are killed annually on U.S. roadways due to alcohol-related accidents. Thousands more suffer from injuries due to intoxicated drivers.
Close to 70 percent of alcohol-related violent acts occur in the home. Roughly 20 percent of these incidents involve the use of a weapon other than hands, fists or feet.
An estimated 1.4 million incidents of alcohol-related violence are committed against strangers each year.
Are You Ready to Quit?
If you’re ready to quit drinking and put the negative impacts of alcohol abuse behind you, it’s time to seek professional care.
Contact a recovery specialist today to learn about alcohol treatment programs close to home.
- Author — Last Edited: July 11, 2019
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (2015). Alcohol, Drugs and Crime. November 2016. https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/alcohol-drugs-and-crime
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations – A Research-Based Guide. November 2016. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-abuse-treatment-criminal-justice-populations/introduction
Zhang, Wieczorek, Welte. (1997). The Nexus Between Alcohol and Violent Crimes. November 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9347088
World Health Organization. (2006). Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol. November 2016. http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/factsheets/fs_intimate.pdf
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2004). Alcohol and Intimate Partner Violence. November 2016. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Social/Module8IntimatePartnerViolence/Module8.pdf
Spatz Widom and Hiller-Sturmhöfel. (2001). Alcohol Abuse as a Risk Factor for and Consequence of Child Abuse. November 2016. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-1/52-57.pdf
Sharps, Campbell, Gary, Webster, Campbell. (2003). Risky Mix: Drinking, Drug Use and Homicide. November 2016. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/jr000250d.pdf