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Alcohol Only Drug Strongly Linked to Violence, Experts Tell Forum


March 1993

The Conference on Violence Among Youth and Young Adults, held at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina in February was told that alcohol, not marijuana, heroin, or various forms of cocaine, was the only drug strongly causally linked to violence, and suggested that higher beer taxes could hence lessen criminal violence (Myra Knight, "Higher Beer Taxes Could Lessen Crime," Herald-Sun (Durham), 2/13/93, A8).

Among those making the assertion were Albert J. Reiss, Jr., the William Graham Sumner Professor of Sociology at Yale University, and Robert Flewelling, a researcher at the Research Triangle Institute.

"Aggression is not linked to marijuana, not to heroin, and if it's linked to crack cocaine, there's not much evidence," said Reiss. "In all the studies -- from rats to lawyers -- alcohol is the only thing you can find linked to violence." Research Triangle Institute associate Flewelling, an expert on the relationship between drugs and homicide, said he found little evidence that personal use of drugs other than alcohol accounts for a large percentage of homicides. The link between cocaine and violence appears related to the sale or distribution of drugs, Flewelling said. "This would suggest that alcohol plays a much larger role [in homicides] than illicit drugs," he concluded.