How Alcohol Abuse Has Increased Domestic Violence in New York City
Domestic violence remains a serious societal concern that transverses gender, race, age, and socioeconomic status. Alcohol abuse is widely known as an all-too-common problem in society (Busch-Armendariz, et al., 2010) and is a major cause of domestic violence and family disabilities in the United States. The emotional, economic, and physical costs of domestic violence on the perpetrators, victims, and those surrounding them have been documented. According to Weinsheimer et al. (2005), Alcohol is the mostly used and abused substance in the United States and the drug most commonly associated with domestic violence. The United States Department of Justice (2008) reports that nearly two thirds of domestic violence cases and Intimate Partner violence involved the use of alcohol. Sharps et al. (2001); Fals-Stewart 2003, and Leadley et al. (2000) have consistently shown that 55-65% of men seeking treatment for alcohol related problems have admitted to being involved in a number of domestic violence. In the United States, alcohol related violence has unrelentingly been a major health problem to most public members, and a considerable amount of evidence is available to show the association between assault and violence in majority of alcohol distributing outlets.
A number of conceptual models have been proposed to explain the association between domestic violence and alcohol abuse. Quigley & Leonard suggested three explanations relating to this association, the indirect effects model, the spurious model, and the proximal effects model. The indirect effects model suggests that the use of alcohol leads to negative impacts in relationships because it creates unhappy and conflictual environment. For instance, the use of alcohol over extended periods to the creation of a conflict conducive atmosphere and hence, creating susceptibility to violence. The spurious model suggests that alcohol abuse is related to domestic violence because alcohol and domestic violence can be related to other things or factors that influence both violence and drinking. Finally, the proximal effects model postulates that men or rather individuals who continue to engage in excessive drinking are more likely to engage in acts of domestic violence when intoxicated, they become vulnerable to commit violent acts. According to this model, alcohol reduces an individual’s ability to perceive threats accurately and moderate his or her response thereby increasing his likelihood to commit violent acts.
Over the past four decades, researchers in many disciplines have based their research studies in finding the root causes of domestic violence with great influence being placed on intimate partner violence (Fals-Stewart, 2003). However, no single study perspective has dominated the field because majority of the research journals have focused their attentions in finding the general violence and types of domestic abuse. This has led to the proliferation of dramatic accommodation of theoretical perspectives and numerous research studies that have been undertaken over the past generations. There has also been a lot of misguided attention from the media fraternity and political circles alike on the relationship of drugs and violence, and this has led to the formulation of theories that seek to establish the relationships between alcohol use and domestic violence (Field, Caetano, & Nelson, 2004).
Contemporary research studies have considered the ways in the society that has contributed to the occurrence of violent behavior being perpetrated due to the presence of alcoholic substances. In defining these terms, research studies based their complex relationships on drugs and alcohol and their relevance in understanding the social contexts of the abusers. Busch- Armendariz et al (2010) asserts that social contexts are responsible for making individuals behave in ways in which they behave because of the conditions created by the situations in which they are subjected to violent behavior and abuse of drugs.
Despite the increasing interest in these areas of research, there is no credible scientific evidence that demonstrates the existent of a significant link between the aggressive behavior of individuals and the susceptibility to commit violent acts such domestic abuse (O’Donnell, Stueve, & Myint-U, 2009). This leaves enough room to provide answers to the assumption that indeed biological characteristics are not to blame for the increased cases of domestic violence in New York City but instead the increasing use of alcoholic substances provides the foundations for the research question. Busch-Armendariz et al, (2010) claims that there exist complex interactions among pharmacological, contextual aspects and psychological aspects of drug-and-alcohol related violence. However, they are quick to point out that there is lack of conclusive evidence to validate this assumption. Therefore, it becomes necessary to establish the ways in which alcohol affects human behavior in general in order to understand the ways in alcohol abuse contributes to the perpetration of domestic violence.
Fals-Stewart (2003) and Fals-Stewart, et al. (2005) conducted their studies based on psychological experiences in order to draw the existing relationships with respect to the behavior of individuals and drugs and alcohol use. Additionally, the studies have also attempted to establish the linkage between early exposures of individuals to alcoholic use will influence their future lives as well as determining whether those individuals that were victimized as kids will emulate the character when they become adults. Similar attempts have also been undertaken by varied scholars of many disciplines in their quests to identify and/or establish relationships between illegal drugs and aggressive behavior. Nonetheless, these studies only focused on establishing the illegality of illicit substances as opposed to finding whether relationships exist between this substances and domestic violence.
Given the range of available explanations with regard to the alcohol abuse and domestic violence relationships, it is logical to expect that alcohol abuse services would be integrated into policy programs and responses to the issue of domestic violence and other closely related domestic violence problems. Provided the common occurrence of alcohol abuse and domestic violence, it is also possible to think that alcohol abuse treatment programs would be concerned with addressing domestic violence cases during such treatment programs. Practically, this does not happen because such programs are designed to address one particular problem say, alcohol abuse without touching on domestic violence. A number of reasons can be used to explain why majority of programs in the United States fail to integrate domestic violence and alcohol abuse issues. First, majority of correction and/or rehabilitation programs are single problem focused. Second, the philosophies that guide domestic violence and alcohol abuse services are incompatible thereby making integration to differ. Last, both problems are complex on their own and, therefore they require different programmatic structures to address them. In spite of the existence of these incompatibilities, some reasons must be considered in order to integrate alcohol abuse and domestic violence into one single program. This might lead to better service provision or still an improvement of the issues facing clients.
Directions of Current research
For this reason, this research study aims to fill the gap that was left by the above research findings in relation to the influence of alcohol on domestic violence. Findings from the above researches were more general in nature because to examined the impacts of drugs in general and the influence of the aggressive behavior. No single study that narrowed down the scope of coverage to show the existing relationship between specific research variables such as alcohol abuse and domestic violence. This study aims to discuss the effects of alcohol in influencing domestic violence in New York City.
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