Alcoholism and Violence

Alcoholism and Violence

Alcoholism and Violence

Obviously, there is a strong correlation between alcoholism and violence. Add alcohol to any tension fueled environment, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Alcohol can lower impulse control and cloud rational judgment. When something angers an alcoholic while they are intoxicated, it can very quickly lead to violence.

Alcoholism and Violence: Brain Chemistry

Not all alcoholics are violent, but there is a significant minority that is. Drunken violence is related to brain chemistry. Brain cells communicate with each other using chemicals called neurotransmitters. Brains of certain alcoholics often have a different form of a key molecule, which stops the mood-regulating chemical, serotonin, from being transported properly. These types of alcoholics are known as “type 2” alcoholics, and they are frequently prone to violent behavior.

Alcoholism and Violence: Anger Issues

Obviously, people who already are prone to anger issues are going to be more likely to be violent when drunk.  Alcohol changes the way you process information, so it compromises your ability to process multiple sources of environmental information. This makes it difficult to determine the intentions of people around you. When you’re drunk, you’re far more likely to view actions as intentional, and if you are already prone to aggression, you can become violent.

Drinking also erases worry about the possible consequences of aggression. While someone with anger issues may get very angry about something that happens, they may be able to take a minute to think through the ramifications of becoming violent. This ability to take a breather and calm down can prevent them from acting out. However, alcoholism and violence go hand in hand because alcohol often causes you to forget about consequences of your actions. People who have anger issues may also use alcohol as an excuse for getting violent, believing that aggressive actions are more easily explained and forgiven if it happens when they are under the influence.

Alcoholism and Violence: Domestic Violence

About 80% of domestic abuse cases involve drugs and alcohol. Domestic abuse cases when the abuser is under the influence of drugs and alcohol tend to be much more extreme and result in greater injury. Alcoholics, especially while under the influence, tend to have a shorter fuse, erupting into violence when they get angry.

Alcoholism and Violence: Neglect of Children

Even alcoholic parents who don’t resort to violence tend to neglect children when they are under the influence. Neglect is the failure of a parent or guardian to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect may be physical, medical, educational, or emotional.  A number of studies have established that alcohol is a significant factor in child neglect and being mistreated is a factor in the child developing alcohol problems later in life. This becomes a vicious cycle: The alcoholic parent mistreats a child, who then becomes an alcoholic later in life as a result. Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all child welfare investigations in the United States and a parent with a history of harmful alcohol use has been consistently shown to increase the risk of child maltreatment.


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