Addiction to psychoactive substances such as drugs and alcohol can increase the threat of violent behaviors due to impaired judgment, low impulse control, and distorted reality.
Addiction and Dangerous Behaviors
Although addicts are not always dangerous, they do have greater risks of developing dangerous behaviors that can lead to violence. Addiction to certain substances with psychotropic properties is known to affect mental function. Alcohol and drugs including heroin, cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, opioids, and certain pain medications are psychotropic substances that impair memory, judgment, and decision making; lower impulse control; and create distorted views of reality.
Psychotropic substances increase a person’s propensity to addiction and dangerous behaviors, but the level of threatening, abusive, or violent behavior also depends on other factors including:
- Type and dosage of drugs taken
- Effects of the drug on the individual
- The severity of the person’s addiction
- Person’s existing physical and mental health
- Person’s life circumstances
- The propensity for self-harm and/or suicide
Addiction to alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine creates the highest risks for dangerous behaviors. Assault attorneys commonly see violent crimes including murder, robbery, sexual assault, and domestic abuse linked to highly addictive drugs. In domestic situations, children and elderly or disabled adults are particularly vulnerable to acts of violence and/or physical and verbal abuse caused by addiction.
Opioid addiction produces high levels of positive reinforcement, increasing the odds that people will continue using them despite any negative consequences. Opioid use disorder is a chronic problem that can last a lifetime without intervention. Serious potential consequences include constant relapses, physical and mental disabilities, and death. Over the last few years, Minneapolis assault attorneys have seen a significant rise in opioid-related overdoses in Minnesota. In 2016, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 637 opioid overdoses.
According to the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, more than 75 percent of addicts who seek drug addiction treatment report committing acts of violence, including physical and sexual assaults, armed robberies, and using a weapon to create fear and/or do harm to another person.
Addiction and substance abuse can lead to aggressive behaviors, often seen in violent sex crimes. Alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine use can lead to heightened feelings of arousal which contribute to high-risk, aggressive, or violent sexual acts including rape and sexual assault. According to a University of Amsterdam study, 50 percent of incarcerated sex offenders have a history of addiction and substance abuse, and 25 to 50 percent are under the influence at the time of their offense.