Alcohol Intoxication

Another possibility is that alcohol intoxication (i.e., being drunk) is more highly associated with violent compared to nonviolent offending. Actually being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the offense may be more influential than indicators of consumption overall. There are quite a few offender studies on the association between alcohol intoxication and violent crime. In a Scottish study, Myers (1982) compared alcohol use between violent and nonviolent offenders. He reports that the amount of alcohol consumed on the day of the offense was higher for violent than nonviolent offenders. Interestingly, the data also suggest that in a typical week, the nonviolent offenders reported drinking more. Felson and Staff (2010) looked at data in a nationally representative sample of inmates and conclude that intoxication “plays its strongest role” on assault and homicide, compared to other types of crime, and that “the more intoxicated the offender, the greater the effect” (p. 1343). Collins and Schlenger (1988) also found that alcohol intoxication at the time of the offense distinguished between violent and nonviolent offenders, while the proportion of offenders with an alcohol abuse diagnosis (according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM-III]), was no different between the two groups. Higher levels of alcohol intoxication have been reported among violent offenders in other studies as well (Farrington & Lambert, 1994; McClelland & Teplin, 2001; Murdoch et al., 1990; Welte & Miller, 1987). A comparison of analyses with violent and nonviolent dependent variables is favorable to the proposition that alcohol intoxication is a differential predictor of violence, but the number of studies is small.

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