Trends in the Relationship of Alcohol Use and Crime: 1989-1999

Susan E. Martin, Natl Institute - Alcohol Abuse/Alcoholism
Christopher D. Maxwell, Michigan State University
Helene Raskin White, Rutgers University
Dennis Gorman, Texas A & M University
Yan Zhang, Michigan State University

Although the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) has found consistently that alcohol is more likely than other drugs to be involved in substance-related violence, the popular conception is that violent crime is strongly linked to drug use by offenders. To address this controversy, the National Institute of Justice created a data system, called ADAM, which tracks the presence of various drugs including alcohol amog arrestees. This presentation examines the relationship between trends in alcohol and drug use from 1989 through 1999, using ADAM data from arrestees in 22 cities, and trends in violent and property crime rates based on UCR data for those cities. Using White and Gorman's (2000) methodology, we examine correlations among drug use, alcohol use, and property and violent crime to see if there is a consistent association between alcohol use and either type of crime across these various cities. The data suggest that recent alcohol use is more highly correlated with violent than property crime over the 10 year period. Compared to the marked declines in drug use, alcohol use among arrestees has declined only slightly although rates vary widely among cities. The presentation will examine possible sources of variation among cities and theoretical explanations for these findings.

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Updated 05/20/2006