If we look to any one predictor for addiction to alcohol or other drugs, stress tells us most. Stress in life leads to many addictions and relapse behavior. (narrative on stress)
Our 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution outlawed the use of alcoholic beverages. During our years of prohibition, much like today, gangs grew in wealth and power. Before long they controlled local government employees. (sounds like cronyism in crime scene cleanup)
Even earlier than 1830, young men, often as young as 15 years-old, drank as many as 90 fifths of liquor per year. Many men drank from "the crack of dawn to the crack of dawn." Enormous social problems arose as we might imagine.
During this time women had no legal rights. Women had no property rights. Husbands came home from saloons drunk and broke. Wives suffered along with their children. Their husbands lost mortgages in bottles of booze. Saloons attached to brothels spread venereal disease to wives through husbands.
Often booze replaced poor drinking water. In fact, George Washington ensured his troops received a pint of whisky every day.
By the 19th century a temperance movement arose to slow the rate of drinking. A liberal movement, it had little to no effect. It was not a coercive movement. The Washatonian movement was the first to focus on individual's to stop drinking, rater than our entire society. It predated Alcoholics Anonymous of America (AAA) by over 100 years. Unlike the temperance movement, it represented attempts to stop drinking by anyone, not slow its abuse.
Less radical, Susan B. Anthony started her speaking career as an advocate for temperance, reducing alcohol's abuse. She witnessed the distress created among women by their drunken husbands and fathers. For them she struck out to temper drinking's abuse, if not stop it somehow. Little got done.
In 1851 she tried to speak at a the New York Son's of Temperance and was refused an opportunity to speak. She realized that without voting rights, women could do little to temper alcohol's abuse. So she took up advocating for the suffrage movement, women's right to vote.
So a prohibition movement began with the women's suffrage movement. At an 1851 New York Son's of Temperance meeting, she could not speak as a fellow advocate. Male chauvinism ignored equality. Easily, she could see that women were the victims of male drinking and male chauvinism, yet women could do nothing without the vote.
No doubt remained in Susan's mind: women must have the right to vote. No alternative existed to protect families from alcoholism in Susan's mind.
Among supporters of the sufferage movement, we find Jack London, author of "Call of the Wild" and other successful novels. Jack had a terrible drinking problem. He figured if alcohol were prohibited, he would stop drinking. He didn't. Jack experienced a childhood with many ups and downs. But for the aid, caring and comfort of his sociological mother, a loving black lady, Jack would never have succeeded at writing.
Ironically, among supporters of prohibition, an odd combination of as diverse as the KKK and International Workers of the World (IWW) came to the support of the sufferage movement. The KKK had an appreciation for anti-tax legislation, as well as a pre-Nazi ideology. The International Workers of the World's progressive agenda naturally supported women as workers. For the KKK, women were breeders. For the IWW, women were comrades entitled to full respect like any other human being, except Mr. Money Bags.
The IWW hoped to crush alcoholism and in doing so liberate men's consciousness from capitalism's spell-binding, dominant ideology. They failed.
The Volstead Act began prohibition with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. It ruled that people could drink what they had, then no more. Hoarding occurred. What you had in your home you could drink. "Medicinal alcohol" then became a popular favorite for doctors and drug stores interested in boosting their profits. (Sounds like marijuana today - - June 17, 2010)
Many people and businesses cashed in on a promising, prohibited market. Walgreens went for around 20 to over 500 stores during prohibition because of medical alcohol, liquor.
Not everyone gained. Dark days for law enforcement followed prohibition. Cronyism in police departments between law enforcement officers and boot-legers generated millions of dollars, not so unlike today's crime scene cleanup cronies. Gangs made millions and gained power as they divested into legal businesses, not unlike Wall Street's derivatives' dealers.
When the stock market crashed, the end of prohibition was in sight. By taxing alcohol our government made money. A quarter of a billion dollars in revenue came in from beer sales alone. Prohibition ended in December, 1933.
The brain tunes out an infant's stress. Through its maturation (growth) internally and externally an individual's brain development continues while tuning out stress. This natural process fails when external environmental cues create traumatic conditions. Emotional development continues, albeit traumatically. (Enter Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Put another way, social conditions become too threatening. For a child placed under undue stress in its developmental years, stress leads to a pre-condition for addiction. This pre-condition explain cravings for stress reduction remedies from the external environment. Given the opportunity to self-medicate, an over stressed person will do so. So enters the world of alcoholism and drug addiction.
Addiction, or the capacity to become addicted, is very close to the core of the human emotions: infantile feeding behavior. As a result, almost anything can become addictive. Healthy activities such as eating or exercising to abusing drugs intended for healing become addictions, given the conditions.
Addictions are not about external threats. Addictions are about our internal, emotional relationships to threats, not the threat themselves . Our perception of the immediate environment. An abusive environment calls out those emotions grounded in earlier periods of emotional growth.
The above paragraph explains, in part, growth of emotions under stressful conditions. It explains relationships between emotions grown under less than optimal conditions. Now, how do we explain that some people never have addiction problems, but experienced horrific childhoods?
The answer is in their emotions relationships to one another. For some of us threats may disrupt growth in one set of emotions, not another. The relationship between these two sets of emotions does not lead to dysfunctional stress. In fact, for some of us, some of these emotional relationships translate into confronting and overcoming external threats.
Again and again, addictions are not about an external threat. Addictions are about our internal relationship to threats. Addictions, for the most part, start as one way to ease emotional pain or distress. Given the amount of pain and dissatisfaction, many of us find solace in external pacifiers. The more we suffer, and the earlier we suffer, the more likely addiction follow may follow.
We search for those satisfying emotions of satiation and contact comfort mom's breast (or bottle) once provided. Whisky and beer bottles become surrogate tits.
For examples, look to inner city drug addicts raised in chaotic homes. Historically, police, doctors, and others show contempt for addicted inner-city people, whether Italian, Irish, African American, or others. In fact, what the addicted need is understanding and acceptance. This does not mean free lunch for the addicted, it means recognizing that the conditions for their addiction arose in their childhood. These people have deeply rooted problems, instabilities in their emotional relationship's grounding.
My experience in crime scene cleanup tells me about about alcoholic drinking as a causal factor in homicide (See my Addiction in Violence against Self and Others -- Suicide and Homicide"). I don't need a psychologist or sociologist to point out the obvious. Sometimes it does help to go beyond my unique view of the world and see what others are saying and finding.
Researchers tell us, "There's a lot going on when someone commits homicide." We are not born to kill. (See my " Addiction in violence against self and others - suicide and homicide"). We no more have genes to kill than we have race genes. We do have genes giving us a pre-disposition to fight-or-flight behavior, not murder or collateral murder.
Before we turn to psychological issues alone, there are known facts "out there" that few dispute, which clarify what's going on quickly. About fifty-percent of homicides somehow relate to alcohol consumption (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1989).
We know little from our cleaning experience about the causes of violent crimes, beyond this simple statistical average. There's no good reason to expose survivors to the deed's alcoholic roots, it seems. Then again, truth carries much educational value. Let the living learn. Leave the bottles.
Some argue that the booze on homicide scenes applies to suicides as well. I know that I've written about the many suicides I've cleaned after and found vodka bottles. Vodka, it seems, serves as the drug of choice among those contemplating self-homicide. Anyway, for homicide on others, booze's role stands out.
Sometimes we make an educated guess if we care to figure out the cause of some violent crimes. After years of trying to figure out the causes of vicious violence, somes answers seem to arise. So when we do try to figure out what leads to crime scene cleanup, our bread and butter, we usually consider what we've heard and read.
Not all radio and TV shows report useful information when it comes to violent crimes. We get the gory end of the story. Sensationalism sells advertisement space.
Learning about the causes of violence against others receives so little media attention. Except for the non-profit radio stations out there and a few pubic televisions stations, academic journals tend to exist as information islands when it comes to violent crime causation. Reading journals takes time and lots of thinking.
After simplifying the academic journals' narrative, their explanations for violence seems to match everyday thinking found among people on the street.
Most of us know already that women will suffer violence against their person long before men become objects of violent crimes. We learn at home that the male child soon outgrows his sister's upper-body strength. Elsewhere the male's upper-body strength easily overcomes the female's self defenses, in most cases.
Most of us know that many homicides occur between men and women living together, and that men abuse women more often then vice versa. We hear about women murdering their abusive husbands. We also hear that relatives tend to off their kinfolk when weapons come within reach during reunions, especially reunions with alcoholic beverages.
So we have a pretty good idea that relations tend to commit homicide against one another. Where else might we expect homicides to occur in violent ways?
We need not look far when racial discrimination comes to the forefront of describing and explaining the sources of violence. It appears true, though, that neighborhood blight, population movement, and welfare rates in adjacent areas influence violence rates. We really don't need to read journals to figure this one out. Reading newspapers and listening to electronic media tell the stories. Perhaps we need to look farther for causation.
The availability of alcohol explains some criminal violence.
In a journal article, Alcohol Availability and Homicide in New Orleans: Conceptual Considerations for Small Area Analysis of the Effect of Alcohol Outlet Density, the authors contend that the number of liquor stores in a certain size area contributes to violence. They use the phrase "alcohol outlet density" to describe the number of liquor stores in a neighborhood. The authors explain that using the density approach to their research on alcohol's part in violence makes sense. Authors site alcohol's part in fatal and injury traffic crashes anticipated by alcohol outlet density.
We should expect such an outcome from research, anyway.
Other indicators of alcohol related issues measured by alcohol outlet density include drunk driving offenses (of course)cirrhosis mortality, and assaultive violence. Shouldn't we expect all of this in a neighborhood packed with liquor stores?
What about a "killer bar" when it comes to figuring out the causes for homicide in a neighborhood. One bar with a high number of homicide's inside and outdoors paints a community with bad colors. Without its "killer bar," a neighborhood's blight may simply pass as poorly maintenanced and left alone too long.
What about one bar with one homicide? Does it become known as a "killer bar" and later does this stigma influence perception of the surrounding neighborhood, no matter what its physical condition?
Answering this question will take time. Meanwhile, I will return to other tasks.