Al­co­hol-fu­elled vi­o­lence linked to trou­bled youth in study

Western Mail - - NEWS - ROD MINCHIN news­[email protected]­line.co.uk

HEAV­IER drinkers are much more likely to be in­volved in vi­o­lence if they have suf­fered dif­fi­cult child­hoods, a new study sug­gests.

The link be­tween ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences, al­co­hol and vi­o­lence is es­pe­cially pro­nounced in young men aged 18 to 29.

Re­searchers work­ing at Pub­lic Health Wales and Ban­gor Univer­sity found that 62% of those with high lev­els of ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences who are heav­ier drinkers have hit some­one in the pre­vi­ous 12 months.

This com­pares to 13.5% in heav­ier drinkers with no ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences.

The study, which ex­am­ined 12,669 adults across Eng­land and Wales, found the com­bi­na­tion of ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences and heav­ier drink­ing in­creased risks of re­cent vi­o­lence in in­di­vid­u­als of all ages but was par­tic­u­larly marked in young men.

The study found that in women the fig­ure was lower but still sub­stan­tial.

About one in four women aged 18 to 29 who were heav­ier drinkers and had high lev­els of ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences had hit some­one in the last 12 months.

Lead au­thor Pro­fes­sor Mark Bel­lis, from Pub­lic Health Wales, said: “We know peo­ple who suf­fer high lev­els of ad­ver­sity in their child­hood can find it more dif­fi­cult to control their emo­tions as adults, in­clud­ing ag­gres­sion.

“Our re­sults sug­gest that when they are also heav­ier drinkers this may fur­ther erode their control and in­crease the risk of them be­ing in­volved in vi­o­lence.

“Un­for­tu­nately, our re­sults also sug­gest that in­di­vid­u­als who were abused and ne­glected as chil­dren or ex­posed to trau­mas such as par­ents fight­ing in their home are also more likely to be­come heav­ier drinkers. In many cir­cum­stances drink­ing may be some­thing they be­gan in or­der to cope.

“Sadly, a toxic mix of child­hood trauma and high adult al­co­hol con­sump­tion is not un­com­mon, and we found this com­bi­na­tion in one in 20 of all men we sur­veyed.

“Such in­di­vid­u­als are more than 20 times more likely to have hit some­one in the last 12 months com­pared to lower-level drinkers with ad­ver­sity-free child­hoods.”

Other re­sults from the study iden­ti­fied sim­i­lar re­la­tion­ships be­tween ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences, al­co­hol use and be­ing a re­cent vic­tim of vi­o­lence.

Co-au­thor Pro­fes­sor Karen Hughes, from Ban­gor Univer­sity, added: “If you hit some­one you are more likely to be hit your­self and this may be part of the ex­pla­na­tion why peo­ple who are cur­rently heav­ier drinkers and have a his­tory of ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences are more likely to have been a re­cent vic­tim of vi­o­lence.

“How­ever, for some peo­ple their child­hood ad­ver­si­ties will have in­cluded ex­pe­ri­enc­ing vi­o­lence.

“Some women who ex­pe­ri­ence such child­hoods may be­lieve suf­fer­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is ex­pected and so stay in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships and use al­co­hol as a cop­ing mech­a­nism.”

Re­searchers com­bined data from four stud­ies un­der­taken in Eng­land and Wales be­tween 2012 and 2015.

The study, Does Adult Al­co­hol Con­sump­tion Com­bine With Ad­verse Child­hood Ex­pe­ri­ences To In­crease In­volve­ment In Vi­o­lence In Men And Women? A Cross­sec­tional Study In Eng­land And Wales, is pub­lished in BMJ Open.

> The study found that 62% of those with high lev­els of ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences who are heav­ier drinkers have hit some­one in the pre­vi­ous 12 months

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