Alcoholism and Crime

Alcoholism and having an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) can lead to violent behaviors and crime. Statistically, nearly one in four violent crimes involve a person who was under the influence of alcohol. There are many environmental factors that increase the likelihood of a correlation between alcohol and crime. In some instances, both the offender and the victim have been drinking. This by no means excuses the crime but it’s a reminder that alcohol is sometimes a factor in the escalation of situations such as arguments which then lead to violent acts. 

When violent acts occur and alcohol is involved, in many instances the person is extremely inebriated. This means that their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at a very high level. 

According to some statistics, upwards of 15% of robberies, 26% of assaults, and 37% of incidents involving sexual violence involve alcohol use. Homicides are more likely to involve alcohol than less heinous crimes. 

Stages of Alcoholism


In this early phase, it’s sensible to focus on questions about behavior and the core reasons why drinking feels like a useful coping mechanism. 

A person who is drinking more than occasionally should consider if drinking is making them feel better or worse. 

It’s worth considering if alcohol is being used in ways that include:

  • A form of escape
  • A way to feel better about your life situation 
  • Because you are embarrassed about your self-image
  • As a method of dealing with trauma
  • As a method of pain management 
  • Because of anxiety, worry, or depression
  • As a form of temporary stress relief 
  • To avoid dealing with problems or a change in life circumstances 

All of these are signs that a person’s drinking has become more problematic and they may have developed an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). At this stage, it is a good idea to seek mental health counseling. A good therapist may suggest Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to address the core issues that are leading to excessive drinking. 

Early to Moderate Alcoholism

It might come as a surprise that even during an “early stage” of alcoholism a person with an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) may experience blackouts due to binge drinking.

The drive to binge drink is not something that all alcoholics engage in. Binge drinking usually refers to consumption of four or more drinks for women within two hours or five or more drinks for men within two hours. 

Drinking heavily during a short period of time results in rapid drunkenness. A person who enjoys the effects associated with excessive drunkenness is likely to have underlying issues that they need to address. Those who live a healthy and balanced lifestyle are not typically driven to excess. 

If your drinking has progressed from a few drinks a week to a more regular or daily basis, then you may have an AUD. Those with an AUD often struggle to have a good time in situations where drinking is not possible or not considered socially appropriate. Often, those who have developed an AUD begin to loss interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Changes in behavior are often a sign that something in your life is not going well. 

If you have already developed a moderate drinking problem, you may become agitated when someone confronts you about your drinking. It’s possible that you have tried to cut back and found this difficult or not possible. 

Someone who has an early to moderate stage drinking problem may still respond to interventions by friends and family. If someone you care about is neglecting responsibilities to family, friends, work, and childcare, these are signs they may need an intervention to help make better choices. It’s possible that they may be showing signs of physical health or increased mental health problems. 

Late Stage Alcoholism

The effects of long-term alcohol abuse are often not subtle. Physical health problems and mental health issues are common at this stage. Someone at the end stage of alcoholism has likely made a number of attempts to cease alcohol abuse or tried to cut back without success. 

A person may appear to be a  “functional alcoholic” but in reality, they are just barely able to maintain the image of normalcy in public. It is likely that their drinking has long been out of control and their personal life is a disaster. 

Over time, a person with an AUD will often have problems including:

  • Relationship issues
  • Financial problems
  • Difficulty maintaining employment
  • Neglect of hobbies once found enjoyable

Without treatment, a person with late-stage alcoholism will most likely continue their problematic behavior. This can result in irreversible physical health problems such as cirrhosis. 

It is essential that loved ones make attempts to seek treatment for a person with alcoholism to avoid the life-threatening results of prolonged alcohol abuse.

Alcohol, Violence, and Who You Know

There’s a common misconception that violence is a person is most likely to be the victim of violence as a result of crimes committed by a stranger. In reality, the vast majority of crimes are committed by people the victim knows. More than 60% of alcohol-related crimes are against a person’s significant other. Less than 40% are by an acquaintance or stranger. 

Alcohol use and abuse by men are more strongly correlated with “intimate partner” or domestic violence compared to the percentage of violence by women while under the influence. Further, the extent of injuries is often more severe when alcohol is involved. Not all alcohol-related violence is physical, especially in domestic partnerships. Alcohol-fueled verbal abuse is extremely common. 

According to some studies, half of the men in treatment for an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) or alcoholism had previously committed violent acts against a partner or spouse. One positive finding is that violence declines, in some instances, if a person who had undergone treatment does not relapse and engages in behavioral relationship counseling.

The rate of child abuse and child sexual abuse (CSA) goes up when a parent with a history of violent behavior has been drinking. 

Small Crimes can be a Gateway

In many instances, individuals do not start out with the most extreme forms of violence and aggression. Initially, using alcohol as an escape can lead to problematic behaviors that lead to low-level misdemeanors and other legal troubles. 

Common gateway crimes include:

  • Open container in public 
  • Public intoxication 
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI) 

There are crimes that can also lead a person to develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD) as they do not want to address their problematic choices. A person who has made poor decisions or committed minor crimes as a result of AUD may develop issues including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of homelessness 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

A person who is having mental health issues and using drinking as a crutch is likely in need of a dual diagnosis for a co-occurring mental health disorder. Only a trained medical expert can provide a proper diagnosis. 

Those who do not seek help for their mental distress may go on to commit worse crimes. Examples include:

  • Assault
  • Intimate partner violence 
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Breaking and Entering (B&E)
  • Robbery or burglary 

Treatment for an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) 

It’s important to end the cycle of abuse as soon as possible. Just because you have not done something you deeply regret yet, does not mean you are not capable of committing a crime or acting in other extremely inappropriate ways as a result of heavy drinking or AUD. 

High-quality treatment at a reputable alcohol treatment facility is a sensible approach for overcoming an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Alcohol addiction recovery center’s such as (Facility Name) can help you cease drinking and address underlying conditions that are the root causes for turning to alcohol as a means of coping. 

If you have a history of becoming violent and aggressive after drinking, Oasis Recovery’s professionals can tailor a treatment plan that will help you work on anger management. Our mental health counselors can work with you on holistic treatments that can help tame your feelings of aggression so you will be able to control angry outbursts in the future. Helpful coping techniques can include:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy 

Developing positive and healthy coping mechanisms that can be applied to real-world situations is imperative in order to change behaviors that have become deeply ingrained. 

Reach out to the medical professionals at Oasis Recovery to speak with a specialist about developing a treatment plan to help you recover from AUD and move forward on a better path.

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