Connection between substance abuse and violence examined

Approximately 50 percent of Americans over the age of 12 currently drink alcohol, according to a 2003 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

While the majority of people who drink alcohol do not become violent, overwhelming evidence implicates alcohol in the expression of violence.

“By far the greatest support for a link between substance use and violent behavior involves alcohol,” says Dr. Jeff Kretschmar, a project director at Kent State University's Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence (ISPV).

In the newly published The Cambridge Handbook of Violent Behavior and Aggression, Dr. Daniel Flannery, co-editor of the book, Kent State professor of justice studies and ISPV director, and Kretschmar examine published research to determine general trends in substance use and characteristics of users. They also investigate the association between substance abuse of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines, and violent behavior.

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