Alcohol and drug abuse in the United States

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug in America. Alcohol abuse is a national epidemic, affecting 80 percent of the population. Many people cannot distinguish between alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Alcohol abuse means drinking more alcohol than is socially, psychologically or physically healthy. Alcoholism is a more serious condition characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences. A National Household Survey conducted during the mid-nineties concluded that 103 million people are current drinkers and 11 million are heavy drinkers. Approximately 10 percent of America's populations are alcoholics, and they each affect 5 to 7 people in their lives with the addiction. Alcohol-related crimes in the United States account for 54 percent of murders and attempted murders, 68 percent of manslaughters, 52 percent of rape and/or sexual assaults, and 48 percent of robberies. Being that alcohol is so widely used and abuse, in this paper we will explore its relationship between violence/crimes in different areas. How does alcohol contribute to neighborhood violence? Does alcohol play a part in domestic violence? Does alcohol abuse contribute to workplace violence?

Alcohol Effect on Neighborhoods

Alcohol availability is closely related to violent assaults. Those living near stores selling alcohol or in neighborhoods that have a high volume of alcohol outlets may have an increased risk of being the victim of a violent assault, compared to those who do not. "Communities and neighborhoods that have more bars and liquor stores per capita experience more assaults." (The Marin Institute: Alcohol and Violence) Although there is considerable evidence that alcohol consumption facilitates assaultive violence, the extent to which alcohol outlets in a community influence assaultive violence remains controversial. Neighborhoods where bars, restaurants and liquor and other stores that sell alcohol are close together suffer more frequent incidences of violence and other alcohol-related problems, according to recent research by the Prevention Research Center and others. (Stewart) A number of studies have found that in and near neighborhoods where there is a high density of places that sell alcohol, there is a higher rate of violence. When bars, liquor stores, and other businesses that sell alcohol are close together, more assaults and other violent crimes occur. A larger number of alcohol outlets and a higher rate of violence might be expected in poorer neighborhoods or in neighborhoods with a larger population young people. But research shows, even when levels of poverty and the age and the ethnic background of residents are taken into account, a high density of outlets is strongly related to violence regardless of a neighborhood's economic, ethnic or age status. When neighborhoods have a high number of alcohol outlets, this increases the availability of alcohol, which in turn could lead to social disorder such as high incidents of disorderly conduct behavior, high rates of underage drinking, which can lead to more minor committing crimes. Research also shows that when neighborhood has a high rate of alcohol abusers there is a strong correlation to other alcohol problems such as drinking and driving, higher rates of motor vehicle-related pedestrian injuries and child abuse and neglect. Alcohol consumption leads to aggressive behavior and violence. Each year thousands of victims are hospitalized or have to visit the emergency room as a result of being victimized by someone under the influence of alcohol.

Government and local communicates have the power to help combat the problem neighborhoods face regarding alcohol related acts of violence. "Governments can use their regulatory powers to reduce violence by:

• Making rules that set minimum distances between alcohol outlets;

• Limiting new licenses for areas that already have outlets too close together;

• Not issuing a new license when a particular location goes out of business;

• Permanently closing outlets that repeatedly violate liquor laws (such as by selling alcohol to minors or to intoxicated persons or allowing illicit drug sales or prostitution on the premises)." (Stewart)

Local state laws and community make decisions regarding who can sell alcohol, when it can be sold, and who it can be sold to, so these communities should exercise tighter control over what they are allowing to take place within their neighborhoods.

Alcohol Use/Abuse and Domestic Violence

"Alcohol use is frequently associated with violence between intimate partners. Two-thirds of victims of intimate partner violence reported that alcohol was involved in the incident." (The Marin Institute: Alcohol and Violence) According to our text studies have found a significant relationship between incidence of battering and the abuse of alcohol and the abuse of alcohol overwhelmingly emerged as the primary predictor of marital violence. (Hanson, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2006) In one study of domestic violence, men had been drinking in an estimated 45 percent of cases and women had been drinking in 20 percent of cases. Women whose partners abused alcohol were 3.6 times more likely than other women to be assaulted by their partners. The odds of any male-to-female physical aggression are eight times higher on days when these men drink alcohol than on days with no alcohol consumption, with the chances of severe male-to-female physical aggression on drinking days more than 11 times higher.

Even though the above data like many other studies shows a strong relationship between alcohol abuse and domestic violence, evidence does not support a cause-and-effect relationship between the two problems, it is unlikely that a causal link exists between alcohol abuse and domestic violence; therefore, must be viewed as the overlap of two widespread social problems. "Men who batter women often use excessive drinking as an excuse for their violence." (Alcohol Abuse and Domestic Violence ) Men who have a predisposition for physical violence toward their female partners and who drink alcohol are more likely to be violent on the days they drink alcohol. Men who experience relationship problems often engage in drinking excessive alcohol in an attempt to maintain control.  Ironically, alcohol abuse has the reverse effect: The more the man drinks, the more he loses control. Alcohol abuse in men increases the chance of partner abuse eightfold. The timing of violent episodes are more likely to occur during or shortly after the drinking episodes, it also doubles the risk that they will kill or attempt to kill their female partners. Alcohol or drug abuse remains a major risk factor for men who become violent. Approximately 46% of men who commit acts of violence with their partners also have substance abuse problems. The correlation between the battering of women and alcohol abuse is the highest for men who believe that male control and power over women are acceptable in certain situations. (Alcohol Abuse and Domestic Violence ) Research continues to support that alcoholism does not cause domestic violence/battering, but alcoholism and battering, however, do share some similarities. Both may be passed from generation to generation, both involve denial or minimization of the problem; both involve isolation of the family. In most instances alcohol consumption does not lead to domestic violence, there is still support that shows alcohol use plays some role in the facilitation of aggression in the context of domestic violence relationships.

Alcohol and Workplace Violence

Alcohol and drug abuse by employees cause many expensive problems for business and industry ranging from lost productivity, injuries, an increase the health insurance claims, and workplace violence. Workplace violence is a very serious issue costing organizations millions of dollars each year. Workplace violence is now recognized as a specific category of violent crime that calls for distinct responses from employers, law enforcement, and the community. This recognition is relatively recent. Violence in the workplace takes many forms, from raised voices & profanity or sexual harassment, to larceny, robbery or assault & battery. Both percentage of days of any drinking and percentage of days of heavy drinking during the last year were positively relates to victimization from verbal and physical aggression at work and perpetration of verbal and physical aggression at work. Consistent with research studies spanning the sociobehavioral literature, investigation have found alcohol use was associated with perpetration of and victimization from verbal and physical workplace aggression. "An estimated 2.3 million workers (1.8 percent of the workforce) have consumed alcohol at least once before coming to work, and 8.9 million workers (7.1 percent of the workforce) have drank alcohol at least once during the workday, according to a recent study conducted at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) and reported in the current issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol." (Many Workers Drink Before or During Work) Person behaviors (history of aggression, amount of alcohol consumed) predicted aggression against a coworker. The distribution of workplace alcohol use and impairment differs by gender, race, age, marital status, occupation, and work shift. With some many workers abusing alcohol before and during working hours could lead to more instants of workplace violence. Workplace aggression efforts by individuals to harm others with whom they work or have worked---are much more prevalent and may prove extremely damaging to individuals and organizations. Work place violence is often predictable and preventable. Clear policies should be in place regarding alcohol use and impairment at work and management and the organization should act more diligently in enforcing those policies in and effort to combat the rise in workplace violence.


As stated in the introduction, alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug in America. Alcohol use and abuse affects many different areas of our lives on a daily basis. Alcohol abuse affects our neighborhoods and communities by contributing to the high rates of crime and assaults again the people that live within these communities where high volume of alcohol outlets exist and where high volumes of alcohol is consumed. Alcohol abuse spills over into our personal lives and families. When one person in the family suffers for alcoholism, other member of the family is impacted negatively. There is a strong correlation between alcohol use and domestic violence. Alcohol in itself does not cause the violence, but it key in the escalation of the violence. Many victims are hospitalized each year as a result of domestic violence. Lastly, alcohol abuse following many to their jobs. Research shows that millions of workers drink alcohol before and during working hours. Alcohol consumption is a contributing factor to the trend we are seeing within companies across the world, which is workplace violence.

WORK CITED: Accessed 07.29.10 Accessed 07.30.10 Accessed 07.29.10 (Many Workers Drink Before or During Work) Accessed 07.31.10