Northwester University

Alcohol-Related Homicides More Common Among Troubled Youth

Most people would assume that a life of drug dealing and gang banging puts a person directly in the path of death. It is not a strange assumption, as the news and newspapers are constantly filled with articles stating another person has died in a drug-related homicide. While it is true that the gang lifestyle and drug dealing are dangerous and produce many unnecessary fatalities, there is one activity that is more deadly by comparison – alcohol abuse.

A new study led by Professor Linda Teplin of Northwestern University shows that there are more homicides associated with alcohol abuse than those involving dealing drugs or being involved in a gang. Experts believe that this may be because younger people tend to drink alcohol put themselves in situations that can easily become volatile.

Researchers decided to look into this by examining the deaths of 1,829 younger people who were formerly in a youth detention center. Of the main factors associated with these premature deaths, those diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder had that highest percentage – more so than the other factors that people would typically thing are more life-threatening.

“People who drink are often in situations where tempers flare. Bad things can happen: barroom brawls, drinking on the front steps on a hot summer night,” explained Teplin.

The professor also points out that many children who abuse alcohol also have signs of other problems in their lives. Personality disorders, anger issues, depression and toxic home environments all play a major factor in a child’s use of alcohol. Being aware of the problems that precede alcohol abuse seems to be an important factor in preventing more alcohol-related deaths. Spotting warning signs and triggers early on in a child’s life may prevent them from being involved in an alcohol-related homicide.