How Addiction Treatment Greatly Lowers Violent Tendencies

Domestic violence

One of the far-reaching, unfortunate side effects of drug and alcohol abuse is violence. In fact, health professionals and governmental research and survey departments have been able to prove that drug abuse exists as a prevalent and rather cruel incentive for violence. According to the Bureau of Justice and Crime Statistics, more than sixty percent of all violent crime is somehow connected to drugs and alcohol. This includes domestic violence.

The University of Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions performed extensive research on the connection between violence and substances. Researchers were able to find that violence is not a natural human tendency. They were able to prove that people who commit acts of violence are almost always in an altered mental state at the time of the incident and that the altered mental state is almost always caused by the individual having recently abused drugs or alcohol.

Research Shows an Intimate Link Between Substance Abuse and Violence

Few people in their right minds would pick a fight with a random stranger. Few people in their right minds would become physically violent with a spouse, son, or daughter unless they were in an altered mental state. According to study co-author Clara Bradizza, a senior research scientist in Buffalo:

“We were surprised to find that the severity of the patient's symptoms was not the primary factor in predicting later aggression. Rather, the patient's substance abuse was the factor most closely associated with future aggression.”

The study showed that substance abuse, not supposed “personal defects” or supposed “mental illness” was responsible for violent tendencies and mental distress. The study followed about three-hundred participants for six months after participants' enrollment in outpatient addiction treatment programs.

Through close study, survey, and interview of the participants, researchers were able to prove a direct link between incidences of substance abuse and incidences of violence in those surveyed. Study participants who managed to maintain sobriety also tended to be non-violent. Participants who engaged in substance abuse had the most violent tendencies.

In another comment from Clara Bradizza:

“Our findings suggest that treatment attendance is very important for these individuals and treatment programs should include interventions that are likely to decrease substance abuse, as this may provide the additional benefit of reducing the risk of later aggression among dual-diagnosis patients.”

Scientific Research Indicates What to Address

We can’t argue with science, and we can’t argue with research projects that draw a direct connection between substance abuse and violence. Substance abuse lies at the bottom of so many socio-humanitarian and socio-economic problems, of which violence is only one. To attempt an address of the problems brought on by substance abuse, without also addressing the substance abuse itself, is a wasted effort one-hundred percent of the time.

To attempt to “medicate away” or “incarcerate away” violence and mental illness will only bring on more addiction and more chemical dependence. Rather, we need to address the lowest common denominator, the substance abuse itself.

Man drinking vodka

In a direct quote from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence:

“Alcohol and drugs are implicated in an estimated 80% of offenses leading to incarceration in the United States such as domestic violence, driving while intoxicated, property offenses, drug offenses, and public-order offenses.”

Violent crime and drug abuse are shockingly connected in almost every scenario when one human being takes up fists against another. We need to focus on addressing the substance abuse factor itself. If we don’t, if we focus on the manifestations and repercussions of substance abuse instead, we err greatly on the side of never actually fixing the problem itself. If we continue to over-incarcerate and over-medicate, we’ll never actually get to the lowest common denominator. Rather, we will be stuck on the hamster wheel of constantly trying to correct the consequences of addiction rather than fixing the addiction itself.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.