While many people associate alcohol use with fun, alcohol abuse has been linked to crime for centuries. In fact, it is more commonly linked with non-drug crimes than any other substance in the world. While part of that is due to its legality, the effects it has on the body and mind are the biggest influence.
The Statistics Don’t Lie
The unfortunate truth is that crime and alcohol abuse are almost inextricably linked. For example, the National Council On Alcoholism And Drug Dependence, Inc reported some disturbing statistics, which include the fact that:
- 80 percent of lawbreakers abuse drugs or alcohol
- Almost 50 percent of those incarcerated had a clinical addiction
- 40 percent of all violent crimes are fueled by alcohol
- Over 60 percent of people arrested are found to be intoxicated
- Nearly 37 percent of all incarcerated people were drunk at the time of their arrest
And while other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, did contribute to crimes, the same survey found that alcohol was, by far, the biggest contributor to violent crimes: over three million violent crimes are committed every year thanks to alcohol and alcohol abuse.
Crimes Typically Committed Due To Alcohol Abuse
Although multiple types of crimes are committed due to alcohol abuse, certain types tend to be more prevalent. For example, the National Partnership On Alcohol Misuse And Crime reported that the most commonly committed crimes influenced by alcohol abuse included:
- DUI/DWI driving incidents
- About 10,000 driving related deaths (whether accidental or not)
- Domestic violence
- Physical altercations with strangers
- Public lewdness
The result of all of these crimes: millions of people serving time in jail or prison, millions of dollars in property damage, and nearly $100 billion dollars spent on punishing those who have committed the crimes. The strain on the system is staggering and millions of people simply aren’t getting the help they need to avoid becoming a repeat offender.
Why Does Alcohol Abuse Cause Increased Crime?
Alcohol abuse impacts mental acuity, making it more difficult to think straight, and affecting logical decision-making. It often slows down higher-level thinking and pulls out the baser elements of a person’s personality. For example, a person with high levels of depression may grow sad, while someone with anger issues may become aggressive.
Essentially, alcohol constricts your perception of reality and makes it harder to focus on multiple aspects of a situation. This is why violent crimes are so prevalent: if someone says something mean to you when you’re drunk, you don’t stop to think about why they said it, or if you somehow influenced their comment. And you have a harder time brushing it off or writing it off as a meaningless insult: instead, you are more likely to get extremely angry.
Such a decreased range of focus can be called “tunnel vision” and it causes accidents (such as bumping into someone) to become worthy of great anger. And alcohol lowers your inhibition and your fear of retribution (i.e. survival instincts), meaning that impulsive desires to strike someone are hard or nearly impossible to suppress.
Alcohol also lowers your executive function (reasoning and logic areas) meaning you it’s harder for you to rationally understand situations. For example, when you’re sober you might think driving drunk is a crime. However, after five or six drinks, you are suddenly getting behind the wheel of your vehicle, putting your life and the lives of others at risk.
You may also come to illogical decisions that lead to other crimes. For example, you and your buddies may come to the conclusion that you need to break into your old high school. Why? You miss the old days and want to relive them in anyway possible. Sober, this logic would make no sense to you: however, when you’re abusing alcohol, it suddenly becomes the “best idea ever!”
Methods Being Utilized To Decrease This Risk
Doctors, government officials, and scientists are working toward ways of decreasing alcohol abuse in the country and, by proxy, decreasing the risk of criminal activity. For example, alcohol rehab helps teach coping methods to those who suffer from alcohol addiction. These methods help them stay sober and eliminate any impulsive behavior that may lead to breaking the law.
Sober-living groups, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, are also trying to teach upcoming generations about the dangers of drinking and driving. While this seems to be having some effect, it’s way too early to gauge how children are responding to these groups.
Behavior-modification techniques such as CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy are being utilized to change criminal behaviors that may be fueled by alcohol addiction. For example, a person who turns to alcohol as a coping mechanism for anger would be taught healthier methods, such as:
- Creative endeavors
- Relaxation techniques
- Reaching out to friends or family members
In prisons and jails, people who have committed crimes under the influence of alcohol are being taught many of these same techniques, hopefully eliminating the possibility of recidivist activities. Many of them are being reached through 12-Step techniques and learning about the severe consequences of their actions.
It’s Never Too Late To Change
Crime and alcohol addiction don’t have to permanently derail your life. By obtaining the proper treatment, you can regain the sober and crime-free life that you deserve. Contact us at AlcoholTreatment.net to learn how. Our counselors can set you up with the best treatment center near you, one that will work hard to break the habit of addiction.