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Risky Mix: Drinking, Drug Use, and Homicide

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 250 Dated: November 2003 Pages: 8-13
Date Published
November 2003
6 pages
Publication Series
This article examines the connection between intimate partner violence and alcohol and drug use.
Researchers looked at women from 10 geographically diverse United States cities, examining patterns of substance use by homicide or attempted homicide victims, abuse victims, and non-abused women, and by their male partners. The study focused on women that were victims of homicide or attempted homicide and their partners; abused women that were not targets of attempted homicide and their partners; and non-abused women and their partners. The researchers combined homicide victims and their partners with attempted homicide victims and their partners. The study found that, in the year before the murder, attempted murder, or the most severe violent incident, female victims used alcohol and drugs less frequently than their partners did. They consumed less of either substance when they did drink or use drugs. But 13 percent of the female intimate partner homicide and attempted homicide victims, 7 percent of the abuse victims, and less than 2 percent of the non-abused women were problem drinkers. These rates are similar to those for abused women that went for treatment in hospital emergency departments. During the homicide, attempted homicide, or the most severe violent incident, the victims were less likely than their partners to be drinking or using drugs. Although there is likely a relationship between women's alcohol use and intimate partner violence and homicide, this study found an increased risk of victimization arising primarily from the offenders' -- rather than from the victims' -- substance use. To understand the relationship between violence in intimate relationships and substance use, the context of use - such as the social setting, which can influence the type and amount of use, the rules and norms for behavior, and the meanings each partner attaches to substance use and violent behavior - also must be studied. 10 notes

Date Published: November 1, 2003