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Is Alcohol a factor in social problems?

Alcohol is a leading factor in 68 percent of manslaughters, 62 percent of assaults, 54 percent of murders and attempted murders, 48 percent of robberies and 44 percent of burglaries.

Two-thirds of child abuse cases are alcohol-related as are 72 percent of rape cases. Booze is a factor in all drinking driving arrests and leads to all the injuries and deaths associated with them.

Alcohol is the leading cause of death for 16 year olds.


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1. A Sobering Approach to Crime-Fighting

Pasadena officials have had enough. The police there can't keep up with crime though it's already reached critical levels.

It is time to take action, officials say. The city is at the forefront of a nationwide battle with the alcohol industry. It is taking the much-ignored, much-denied correlation between alcohol and crime and putting it on the table for discussion.

The city can't afford to ignore the correlation anymore. It's too clear, too evident and too devastating. The bare facts of the correlation were recently displayed in a study by Day One, a local substance abuse group, and Pasadena police.

The study looked at crime during two two-week periods in 1990-`91 and 1993. It found a strong correlation between crime and alcohol. The study showed that half of all arrests in the city involved alcohol, with 100 percent of homicide arrests involving alcohol.

Sixty percent of rape cases and more than half of all domestic assaults involved alcohol. The statistics don't account for police time spent on alcohol-related incidents that don't result in arrests.

Angela Goldberg of Day One said that alcohol is a factor in many social problems. She said alcohol policy is a tool to address the problems in a real way.

The Day One organization spearheaded the city's liquor initiative. The initiative would give the city more control over liquor outlets under a proposed nuisance abatement ordinance.

Normally, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulates alcohol outlets, but the city hopes to extend its control under the nuisance abatement ordinance. It would allow the city to close problem stores and set zoning limits on the number bars and alcohol outlets in a given area.

The city has to be careful in wording the ordinance. A similar one in Oakland failed. That ordinance, though, attempted to fine stores that overworked police authorities. The proposed Pasadena ordinance would not. It is modeled after a Los Angeles ordinance that already survived one legal battle.

SOURCE: "A Sobering Approach to Crime-Fighting," Joe Donnelly, LOS ANGELES TIMES, May 12, 1994


2. "Controlling drinking will help control crime and violence,"
THE CALIFORNIAN, Jan. 25, 1994, P.6A

The editorial board of THE CALIFORNIAN in Salinas, Calif. is taking a stand for drinking in moderation.

The board noted the correlation between alcohol consumption and crime in a Jan. 25 editorial. It attributed the recent epidemic of violence in the city, in part, to people's drinking habits.

Three people died and several were wounded in Salinas on Halloween in a gang-related shooting spree. It occurred in the wake of a party, where alcohol was presumed to have been served.

City officials must now consider whether to grant a permit for beer sales to a new store owner at North Sanborn Road and Del Monte Avenue, an area already beset by violence.

THE CALIFORNIAN commended the owner of the store for responding to community concern about drinking. The owner proposes education training for sales clerks, a ban on single can sales and banning loitering around the store.

The editorial board also takes the position, however, that the safety of the community should come before business concerns. Alcohol and crime are bad for the community overall.

SOURCE: "Controlling drinking will help control crime and violence," THE CALIFORNIAN, Jan. 25, 1994, P.6A


3. "Why are Pasadena teen-agers drinking so much?"

A column by Fran Newman in the Pasadena(Ca) Star News makes these points about teens and alcohol:

SOURCE: "Why are Pasadena teen-agers drinking so much?" Fran Neumann, PASADENA STAR NEWS, May 4, 1993


4. College Women Binge Drinking Date: 6/10/94

The report by the National Commission on Substance Abuse at Colleges and Universities, conducted by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, concludes that female binge drinking has tripled since the mid-'70s and that drinking to get drunk is the biggest substance abuse problem on college campuses.

The report also said that alcohol is involved in most major campus problems, including rape, AIDS, violent crimes and academic problems. The commission calls on colleges to alter the alcohol culture by banning alcohol advertising, restricting alcohol availability at campus activities and expanding treatment and prevention services.


5. Russian Drinking Culture
Reuters March 9

A "macho drinking culture" is killing thousands of Russian men each year, Reuters reported March 9.

Overconsumption of vodka and sometimes poisonous home-brews have increased sharply after the collapse of a mid-1980s attempt by the government to curb alcohol consumption, the British Medical Journal reported.

The Russian death rate increased dramatically between 1987 to 1992, with prominent increases in deaths from poisoning and trauma. Researchers believe both of these increases are related to alcohol consumption.


6. Alcoholism and Early Death
October 27 1995

Alcoholism can cut your lifespan by as many as 20 years, UPI reported Oct.27 1995.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis followed a group of 259 men and women over a 20-year period and found that periods of heavy drinking caused many people who were treated for alcoholism to die in their 50s instead of living a normal span of 70 years or more. Nearly half of the women and 60 percent of the men who were treated in their 30s or 40s during the late 1960s had died by the time researchers followed up on the group 20 years later.

The average age of death for study participants was 56.

Risk factors for men included cirrhosis of the liver and living single, while binge drinking was a major risk factor for women. Reported in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the study could have implications for the treatment of alcoholism, researcher Dr. Colins Lewis said. "We can target the high-risk groups," Lewis said. "If an older, divorced man with cirrhosis checks into the hospital for teatment, we know that he is at very high risk for an early death, so we need to target him for intensive therapy."


7. Economist Links Beer Price, Death Rate Date:
Journal of Research on Adolescence. July 1994

Economist Michael Goldman told a National Public Radio audience July 1 that a 10-cent increase in the beer tax could save the lives of 350 teenagers per year.

Goldman compared the beer tax, drinking rates and highway deaths in the 50 states, concluding that beer consumption follows the laws of economics: the higher the price of beer, the less young people drink. His report appears in the July issue of the Journal of Research on Adolescence.

Another researcher, Philip Cook, found that teens who grew up in states with high beer tax were more likely to graduate from college, NPR reported.

Gary Gananas, a spokesman for the beer industry, called the conclusions "way off base."


8. Alcohol-related crashes in Illinois reported
July 19 1995.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show that 42.2 percent of the 1,554 highway deaths recorded in 1994 were alcohol-related.


9. "Drunk Driving Booms In Eastern Germany," SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE,
July 28, 1993

In the old East German state it was illegal to drive with any alcohol in your blood. But in the unified Germany, the limit is 0.8 milliliters per liter of blood. The loosening of restrictions in the east has led to an explosion in the number of alcohol-related car crashes. Increasing numbers of German legislators are calling for lowering the intoxication limit to 0.5 milliliter. Some from E. Germany want to go back to zero.

SOURCE: "Drunk Driving Booms In Eastern Germany," SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, July 28, 1993, P.A12


10. Alcohol Plays Major Role in Crime
Prison Statistics May 20, 1993.

The federal Bureau of Prison Statistics released figures Wednesday showing that 49% of prison inmates in the U.S. say they were under the influence of alcohol, other drugs, or both when they committed the crime for which they were imprisoned.

18% were under the influence of alcohol alone. 17% were under the influence of other drugs alone. An additional 14% were under the influence of both alcohol and other drugs.

Almost half of female inmates were physically or sexually abused before entering state prisons. Alcohol and other drugs have also often played a big role in the lives of incarcerated women.

24% of women inmates committed crimes for drug money, say experts.

SOURCE: "Typical inmate: Abused, abuser, repeater," Mimi Hall, USA TODAY, May 20, 1993, P.8A


11. Booze And Crime
USA TODAY, May 4, 1994

Let's talk about crime. Let's talk about alcohol. Now, let's talk about them together.

They belong together, so it's high time we stop separating the issues, says editor and co-owner Michael Gartner of the Ames, Iowa DAILY TRIBUNE in a May 4 commentary.

Everyone talks about guns when they talk about crime but they overlook booze, though it's right under their nose. Right in the cabinet actually, next to the dinner crackers and napkins. It's an everyday household item.

Gartner says that's why we overlook it when we talk about bad things like crime. But he says it's time to face facts:

Alcohol is a leading factor in 68 percent of manslaughters, 62 percent of assaults, 54 percent of murders and attempted murders, 48 percent of robberies and 44 percent of burglaries.

Two-thirds of child abuse cases are alcohol-related as are 72 percent of rape cases. Booze is a factor in all drinking driving arrests and leads to all the injuries and deaths associated with them. Gartner's facts are from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Gartner is calling for a return of Prohibition. Even though it didn't work in the `20s and even though people say it would cause massive bootlegging, Gartner says Prohibition is necessary, because something must be done about crime.

SOURCE: "Bring back Prohibition," Michael Gartner, USA TODAY, May 4, 1994, P.11A


12. "Bouts with negative moods said common,"

Booze can lead to blues if you're a man, according to a report by top health officials, but no correlation was found between women and drinking.

The study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that the moodiest men were three times as likely to be heavy drinkers and that they were not likely to be smokers.

"These findings suggest that emotional well-being may play a role in cigarette smoking and heavy drinking," stated the report. The survey defined heavy drinking as three drinks or more a day for men and two drinks or more a day for women.

SOURCE: "Bouts with negative moods said common," Christopher Connell, THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, November 5, 1993, P.A2


13. "Study links lousy moods to smoking and drinking,"
FLORENCE MORNING NEWS, November 5, 1993,

Almost 40 million American adults fall into negative moods according to government health researchers. Those susceptible to foul moods were more likely to be smokers and the moodiest men also tended to be heavy drinkers according to Charlotte A. Schoenborn and John Horm of the National Center for Health Statistics.

Some 43,782 adults were asked in a 1991 health survey if they felt they had negative moods in the past two weeks. Overall, the survey showed that 22.5 million women and 17 million men often experienced at least one negative mood during the two weeks before being interviewed.

This research showed no relationship between negative moods and heavy drinking for women. Lonely adults were 60 to 70 percent more likely to smoke.

They defined heavy drinking as three or more drinks a day for men and two or more for women.

SOURCE: "Study links lousy moods to smoking and drinking," Christopher Connell, FLORENCE MORNING NEWS (Florence, South Carolina), November 5, 1993, P.1A


14. Alcohol and Campus Rape,
The Boston Globe 8th May 1995

An alleged sexual assault by members of the University of Massachusetts hockey team was typical in one sense: both the accused and the reported victim were drinking at the time of the incident.

The Boston Globe reported May 8 that the circumstances of the attack -- a female student reported being attacked by five hockey players after an afternoon of drinking together -- fits a familiar pattern. Nationally, studies show that 75 percent of sexual assailants and 55 percent of victims of sex crimes on college campuses were under the influence of alcohol. Another study said alcohol was involved in 90 percent of campus rapes.

Veronica Reed Ryback, director of the rape counseling center at Beth Israel Hospital, said alcohol is used by men to break down women's resistance to sex, while women who drink often lose the ability to realize they are in danger. But Marianne Winters, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition of Rape Crisis Services, said that sexism -- not alcohol -- is the underlying cause of rape.


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