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September 30, 2014

HOT BLAST: Crime and alcohol use in the United States

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Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 10:00 am

America tip-toeing into the world of legalized marijuana sales has birthed all sorts of conversations, not the least of which is: Which "drug" is the most dangerous?

By "drug," that means substance that alters impairs or alters behavior, something that intoxicates its user. Alcohol is certainly one of those.

That's a touchy subject, for obvious reasons. Alcohol is embedded in American culture, business, industry and society. Prohibition failed during the last century, and there's no chance the United States would go down that road gain. Here in Calhoun County, Sunday alcohol sales came on board in Anniston just a few months ago.

I say that despite the fact that data continue to show that alcohol use causes more problems in America than does the use of any other "drug." Addiction is a major health concern. The latest report, published Tuesday by The Washington Post, explains how a high percentage of crimes are caused by people who have at least some alcohol in their bloodstream. (The report does not tackle the issue of crime caused by the sales of illegal drugs, however.)

Author Harold Pollack wrote in The Post that "correlation does not equal causation, of course. If offenders all stopped drinking, we wouldn’t see a 100-percent reduction in their crimes. Yet alcohol does play a distinctive role. It lowers inhibitions and, among some people, fosters aggressive behavior that ratchets up the risk that violence will somehow occur. In my own career as a public health researcher, I’ve come into close contact with many intoxicated heroin and marijuana users. In these moments, I’ve never had reason to feel that my safety was at risk. I have been present for some scary incidents. Almost every time, alcohol was in the mix, often as things were getting a little late in a tough neighborhood near a liquor store."

-- Phillip Tutor

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