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Pathways of Addiction: Opportunities in Drug Abuse Research
lished (see Gottheil, 1983; Brain, 1986; NRC, 1993). Studies have shown that chronic or problem drinkers have more frequent histories of violence and more previous arrests for violent crimes than comparable samples (Fagan, 1993; NRC, 1993). Alcohol use is a significant risk factor in domestic violence and sexual assault; studies have reported that 25-68 percent of batterers use alcohol and that the severity of abuse is correlated positively with alcohol use by the assailant (Rosenberg et al., 1992; Fagan and Browne, 1994). It is important to note, however, that most drinking events do not result in interpersonal violence.
Although there are wide individual differences, studies have shown arousing and aggression-heightening effects in the early phases of acute alcohol use in both animal and human studies (Miczek et al., 1994b). Chronic alcohol use and alcoholism also have symptoms associated with aggression, including depression, despair, insomnia, anxiety, and irritability. The neurobiological mechanism for alcohol's aggressive effects is currently being studied; proposed mechanisms have focused on brain serotonin metabolism and the GABAA receptor complex in the brain (Miczek et al., 1994b). Research has shown that alcoholism has a genetic component (see Chapter 5), although the nature of any genetic influence on alcohol-related violence has not been studied. Additionally, other psychiatric disorders may impact on the aggressive actions of alcohol abusers (Miczek et al., 1994b). Individuals with diagnosed antisocial personality disorder who abuse alcohol have increased prevalence of violent actions (Linnoila et al., 1983; NRC, 1993).
Opiates have a high abuse liability because they initially produce analgesia and a sense of tranquility or well-being. However, chronic use of opiates can lead to hostility, suspicion, and confusion. Withdrawal is characterized by depression and by heightened aggressive or defensive actions (Meyer and Mirin, 1979). The primary link between opiates and violence, however, has been reported in association with the need to support an expensive drug habit. Criminal activity significantly increases during times of narcotic dependence; although, crimes by heroin abusers are largely nonviolent property crimes (McGlothin, 1979; Miczek et al., 1994b).
Cocaine has a stimulant effect on the central nervous system, and users initially experience an increased sense of energy and sensory awareness. However, the crash that follows can result in irritability, fatigue,