Studies show that alcohol is the number one catalyst for homicides, surpassing drugs like cocaine and heroin almost five times over. Since the number of people who abuse cocaine has been cut nearly in half, there are less violent outbreaks from that group of substance abusers. Heroin accounted for only 3% of homicides. Homicides that involved alcohol accounted for 35% of those fatalities.
This correlation likely stems from the fact that alcohol lowers a person’s inhibitions. When someone is under the influence, they are more likely to feel justified in starting a fight and they are more likely to feel that the can overpower someone else. They are also more aggressive and less logical, which is a dangerous mix. Studies show that in the homicides involving alcohol, it’s not just those who commit the crime who are usually under the influence – the victims commonly have consumed alcohol as well.
Homicide cases were investigated around five counties surrounding Chicago as a sample population to determine what factor alcohol played in the fatalities. About 40% of homicide victims had alcohol in their blood. Almost all of the victims were men and almost all the fatalities were caused by gunshot wounds.
While focusing on eliminating drug abuse is vital, it is clear that we need to continue to focus on the issues surrounding alcohol abuse. Sending those who are alcohol dependent to treatment would help this problem, however many people do not have access to effective drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Unfortunately, insurance presents another obstacle. Many people who fit the criteria for alcohol abuse do not have insurance to pay for treatment. Continuing efforts to discourage binge drinking and alcohol abuse is a crucial step in helping to prevent these tragic crimes.