Alcohol, Violence, and Aggression--A Commentary by
NIAAA Director Enoch Gordis, M.D.
Both alcohol use and violence are common in our society, and there are many associations between the two.
Understanding the nature of these associations, including the environmental and biological antecedents of each and the ways in which they may be related, is essential to developing effective strategies to prevent alcohol-related violence as well as other social problems, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and childhood abuse and neglect.
Because no area of science stands apart from another, understanding more about alcohol-related violence also will shed light on violence in general and produce information that may be useful to reducing it.
Science has made progress on elucidating the environmental and biological antecedents of alcohol abuse and alcoholism; less progress has been made toward understanding the causes of violence. Understanding the biology of violence will help us to clearly define the role of the environment in increasing the risk for violence and increase our understanding of who is at risk for violent behavior. This understanding also will help us to develop effective interventions--both social and medical where intended--to help those whose violence has caused trouble for themselves and others.