There are many factors that can cause people into violent acts. Acts of violence in humans can be caused by triggers to violent acts and propensity to be violent.
The propensity to be violent depends on the personal character of the one committing the acts of violence (Haggård‐Grann et al., 2006). The trigger represents a social factor that leads a person into crime.
Some of these triggers include the use of drugs, alcohol, brain injury and mental illness. Nevertheless, these triggers can only lead to violence if the propensity to be violent exists in the violent individuals (Haggård‐Grann et al., 2006).
There are people who have the use drugs, alcohol, or have mental illness and brain injuries and yet they are not involved in acts of violence. This paper wishes to relate how the use of drugs and alcohol as well as mental illness and brain injury plays a role in acts of violence.
Role of Drugs and Alcohol in Violence
Use of drugs and alcohol can affect the one’s personality making them violent. In the United States, most of the cases that lead to incarceration can be connected to the use of drugs and alcohol. Alcohol and drugs have been connected to property offenses, public order offenses, drug offenses and domestic violence (Parker & Auerhahn, 2008).
Use of alcohol in the United States and most countries is legal and this contributes to social problems such as violence. Alcohol contributes to 40% of acts of violence and according to statistics most of the offenders in jail were drunk when they were arrested (Parker & Auerhahn, 2008).
Alcohol contributes to more violent acts than the use of illegal drugs. Alcohol has been found to contribute to rape, physical attacks, robbery, massacre and domestic violence. There are more than 3 million acts of violence every year connected to alcohol (Bushman, 2003).
Statistics connected to the use of alcohol show that drunk offenders commit most of the assaults. Alcohol is connected to crimes where the victim and the offender know one another and most of the intimate criminal acts are connected to alcohol.
Use of illegal drugs can also be connected to acts of crime. There are times where violent offenders commit the crimes to meet their demand for drugs. Offenders engage in acts of robbery to purchase the drugs (Bushman, 2003).
Those who abuse drugs are most likely to be incarcerated for acquisitive acts of crime such as looting, handling stolen items, burglary and robbery, only to feed their stomachs. Many people are arrested for driving when intoxicated with drugs and alcohol.
Intoxicated driving is understood to be among the main causes of death. Statistics indicate that alcohol and drugs also contribute to juvenile crimes (Alvarez & Bachman, 2013). Juvenile Justice Systems reveal that teens and children arrested for acts of violence are under the influence of alcohol.
Role of Mental Illness and Brain Injury in Violence
Violence in the context of mental illness and brain injury is sensationalized and this affects the stigma of the patients. In today’s society, brain injury and mental illness can be connected to violence and this in turn complicates the work of the psychiatrists (Carmel & Hunter, 2009).
It is because of this fact that most patients with brain damage or mental illness are discriminated in the community for assumptions that they are violent. Most of the violent acts connected to brain damage and mental illness take place in health facilities. This takes place when the patients become aggressive and the psychiatrists and doctors are called to assess the situations.
Mental illness and brain injury patients with stable conditions are not connected to violence. Mental illness and brain injury patients with violent behaviors mostly get involved because of biological factors (Carmel & Hunter, 2009).
When dealing with patients of mental illness and brain injury, it is important to consider their psychosocial factors as they contribute to violent behaviors. Aggression in patients with brain injuries and mental illness occurs when the libidinal impulses are blocked. Violent behavior in these patients may develop from past scenes and experiences.
Justice for Offenders
The criminal justice system’s work is to rule on the cases of violence. Considering that most of the patients with brain injury and mental illness are bound to commit crimes, it would be important to consider rehabilitation than punishment (Swartz et al., 2014). Past experiences and scenes could trigger the violent behaviors of the offenders. Punishing them increases their stigmatization and they end being frustrated.
On the other hand, offenders who commit acts of violence for having abused drugs and alcohol should be punished and at the same time counseled on their effects on their reasoning (Swartz et al., 2014). Alcohol and drug abuse affects the personality of humans and sometimes leads them to behave violently. Incarceration is not the only approach that can be used to make them reform; they can be given guidance for them to end their violent behaviors.
The causes of violence are pre-determined by different factors such as drug and alcohol abuse or mental or brain injury. Most of the violent offenders are incarcerated, but they are not given a chance to reform. The criminal justice system’s role is to ensure safety for all (Alvarez & Bachman, 2013). Though the offenders deserve punishment, they should also be rehabilitated to ensure they do not go back to violent behaviors after they are free again.
Alvarez, A., & Bachman, R. (2013). Violence: The enduring problem. New York, NY: Sage Publications.
Bushman, B. J. (2003). Human aggression while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs: An integrative research review. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 148-152.
Carmel, H., & Hunter, M. (2009). Staff injuries from inpatient violence. Psychiatric Services, 40(1), 41-46.
Haggård‐Grann, U., Hallqvist, J., Långström, N., & Möller, J. (2006). The role of alcohol and drugs in triggering criminal violence: a case‐crossover study*. Addiction, 101(1), 100-108.
Parker, R. N., & Auerhahn, K. (2008). Alcohol, drugs, and violence. Annual review of sociology, 291-311.
Swartz, M. S., Swanson, J. W., Hiday, V. A., Borum, R., Wagner, H. R., & Burns, B. J. (2014). Violence and severe mental illness: the effects of substance abuse and nonadherence to medication. American journal of psychiatry.