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Liquid Courage and Other Reasons Convicted Felons Use Alcohol and Other Chemicals

Liquid Courage and Other Reasons Convicted Felons Use Alcohol and Other Chemicals

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Published by Jane Gilgun
This paper presents a typology that describes nine different ways that chemical abuse and the perpetration of interpersonal violence are related. My method was in-depth life history qualitative interviews with 83 informants, most of whom had committed felony-level acts of violence. A main point of my findings is that one size does not fit all. Public policy, programming, and interventions cannot assume that chemicals affect violence in the same way for different individuals. Persons who want to control their violence and who use drugs and/or alcohol may take a step toward this goal if they abstain from using chemicals. Persons who want to control their violence also might consider whether they have strongly hegemonic attitudes that lead them to believe that they have the right and/or obligation to act violently, independent of their chemical use.
This paper presents a typology that describes nine different ways that chemical abuse and the perpetration of interpersonal violence are related. My method was in-depth life history qualitative interviews with 83 informants, most of whom had committed felony-level acts of violence. A main point of my findings is that one size does not fit all. Public policy, programming, and interventions cannot assume that chemicals affect violence in the same way for different individuals. Persons who want to control their violence and who use drugs and/or alcohol may take a step toward this goal if they abstain from using chemicals. Persons who want to control their violence also might consider whether they have strongly hegemonic attitudes that lead them to believe that they have the right and/or obligation to act violently, independent of their chemical use.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Jane Gilgun on Dec 21, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/15/2013

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 "Liquid Courage" and "It Don't Matter:"How Violent Men See Relationships Between Their Chemical Useand the Perpetration of Interpersonal Violence
Written in 2000Jane F. Gilgun
This paper presents a typology that describes nine different ways that chemical abuse and the perpetration of interpersonal violence are related. My method was in-depth life history qualitativeinterviews with 83 informants, most of whom had committed felony-level acts of violence. A main point of my findings is that one size does not fit all. Public policy, programming, and interventionscannot assume that chemicals affect violence in the same way for different individuals. Personswho want to control their violence and who use drugs and/or alcohol may take a step toward this goal if they abstain from using chemicals. Persons who want to control their violence also might consider whether they have strongly hegemonic attitudes that lead them to believe that they have theright and/or obligation to act violently, independent of their chemical use.
Running head: Violence and chemicals
About the Author
Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW, is professor, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, TwinCities, USA. See Professor Gilgun’s related articles, children’s stories, and books on AmazonKindle, scribd.com/professorjane, and stores.lulu.com/jgilgun. This paper was presented at theInternational Conference on Evaluation for Practice, Huddersfield, England, July 13, 2000.
 
Violence and chemicalsPage 2 of 2
Abstract
More than half of all violence is committed while perpetrators are under the influence of alcohol,drugs, or both. This paper presents a typology that describes nine different ways that chemicalabuse and the perpetration of interpersonal violence are related. My method was in-depth lifehistory qualitative interviews with 83 informants, most of whom had committed felony-level acts of violence. A main point of my findings is that one size does not fit all. Public policy, programming,and interventions cannot assume that chemicals affect violence in the same way for differentindividuals. Persons who want to control their violence and who use drugs and/or alcohol may takea step toward this goal if they abstain from using chemicals. Persons who want to control their violence also might consider whether they have strongly hegemonic attitudes that lead them to believe that they have the right and/or obligation to act violently, independent of their chemical use.
 
Violence and chemicalsPage 3 of 3
The Relationship Between Chemical Useand Interpersonal Violence
That violence and chemical use are related is clear. Chemical dependency is one of the most prevalent issues in child welfare (Barth, 1994; CWLA, 1999; Dore, Doris, & Wright, 1995;Finnegan, 1992). Between 50% to 80% of the parents of children in U.S. foster care are chemicallydependent. Children usually enter foster care because their parents mistreated them. In domesticabuse situations, alcohol may be present up to 60% of the time (Tolman & Bennett, 1990). Alcoholis a factor in most manslaughters, physical assaults, and murders/attempted murders (Alcohol andHealth, 1987). More than half of persons arrested for burglary, larceny, and robbery tested positivefor illegal drugs (Drugs, Crime, & the Justice System, 1992). A bit more than 40% of prisonersconvicted of rape reported being on drugs and/or alcohol at the time of their crimes (Collins &Messerschmidt (1993). National studies of prisoners and arrestees show similar trends. In 1997, a little more thanhalf (51%) of U.S. federal and state prisoners reported they were using alcohol or drugs while theycommitted their crimes. About 83% reported ever using drugs. The most common drug wasmarijuana (77%), followed by cocaine/crack (49%), with heroin/opiates third (24%) (SubstanceAbuse and Treatment, 1999). In 1998, using interviews and drug tests, a federally sponsoredresearch project found that two-thirds of the adult arrestees and more than half of the juvenilearrestees tested positive for at least one drug (1998 Annual Report, 1999).Although these facts help make a strong case for the existence of relationships betweenchemical use and violence, they give little direction in understanding
how
chemical use andviolence are related. To understand the how of the relationship between chemical use and violence,I conducted open-ended life history interviews with 83 persons, most of whom were convicted

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