⊙ Alcohol use is linked with significant proportions of each of the types of violence, such as interpersonal violence, self-directed violence (e.g., suicide) or collective violence (e.g., wars, civil unrest).
Examples for interpersonal violence are: violence between family members, friends, acquaintances and strangers, including child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual violence and elder abuse.
⊙ Alcohol use contributes to violence affecting people across the whole life-course and in many situations. Experiencing violence can result in many types of harm beyond immediate physical injuries and deaths. There is also a wide spectrum of longer term negative behavioural, cognitive, mental health, sexual and reproductive health problems, chronic diseases, deprivation or neglect in children, and other social effects that arise from exposure to violence.
⊙ Alcohol does not provide a motive or excuse for violence. But alcohol impairment can increase the probability that there will be a violent response to inter-personal conflict, frustration or a perceived threat.
⊙ There is also evidence that learned beliefs about alcohol and aggressive behavior (e.g., the belief that when ones drinks it is ‘normal’ to be more aggressive) can shape violent behavior after alcohol consumption.
⊙ A high prevalence of alcohol-related violence within a community can also affect quality of life by reducing community cohesion, increasing fear of crime thus preventing people from visiting public places such as city centres or using public transport, especially at night.
⊙ The social and economic burden of alcohol-related violence is immense. The economic costs of alcohol-related violence include direct costs such as those to the healthcare system, the policing and legal/ criminal justice services, and costs to support victims (e.g., providing refuge). Indirect costs include work and school absenteeism and lost productivity among those who continue to attend work and school.
⊙ The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies public policies on alcohol as a ‘best-buy’ for violence prevention. But alcohol policy remains mostly overlooked in violence prevention strategies.
⊙ Alcohol policy changes related to the price of alcohol (e.g., taxes), trading hours (i.e., hours of alcohol sales), minimum legal purchase age and the number of liquor outlets have all been found to be related to rates of violent incidents. Common sense limits on these are linked with reductions in violence.
⊙ While many causes of violence are difficult to change (e.g. genetic, personality and cultural factors) this report finds that alcohol as a cause of violence stands out as being highly amenable to change through changes in alcohol policies.