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People and places: Some factors in the alcohol-violence link

Plant, Moira; Plant, Martin; Thornton, Christine


Moira Plant

Martin Plant

Christine Thornton


The possible association between heavy drinking and intoxication with aggression and violence has been debated for centuries. A select and concise review of some of the evidence on this topic will be presented. This seeks to draw some general conclusions from an extensive, flawed and often contradictory literature. The main focus of this review is on social and contextual factors. Experimental evidence suggests that alcohol consumption probably does increase the propensity for aggression in men, but less so for women. The effects of drinking depend upon the alcohol consumed, the drinker and the setting in which consumption occurs. Most drinking occasions do not result in aggression or violence, and drinking is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause violence. Heavy and inappropriate drinking is associated with both violent and nonviolent crimes; heavy and problem drinkers are at risk of being violent or of being the victims of violence. Experience of violence (including sexual abuse) in childhood or later in life are associated with the development of heavy or problem drinking. The risk of exposure to violence is influenced by a host of demographic, lifestyle and contextual factors. Responses to alcohol-related violence at the societal level involve a number of harm minimization strategies. At an individual level it has been shown that treatment for problem drinking can lead to reduced risk levels (for both perpetrators and victims of violence).


Plant, M., Plant, M., & Thornton, C. (2002). People and places: Some factors in the alcohol-violence link. Journal of Substance Use, 7(4), 207-213.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2002
Journal Journal of Substance Use
Print ISSN 1465-9891
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 4
Pages 207-213
Keywords alcohol, drinking and violence, setting, social context
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