The Association of Alcohol and Drug Use with Persistence of Violent Offending in Young Adulthood

Helene R. White, Jennifer Buckman, Dustin Pardini, Rolf Loeber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: This study expanded upon an earlier study, which examined the associations between heavy drinking and persistence of serious violent offending through emerging adulthood (approximate age 25), by examining associations between alcohol, marijuana, and other drug use and disorders and persistence of serious violent offending through young adulthood (approximate age 36). Methods: We used official records and self-reported longitudinal data from Black and White men from early adolescence through young adulthood (n = 391). Men were divided into four violence groups: non-violent, desisters, persisters, and very late-onsetters. Multinomial logistic regression analyses controlling for race and incarceration were used to compare these groups in terms of substance use in young adulthood and changes in use from emerging to young adulthood. Results: Most previous serious violent offenders did not re-offend in young adulthood. Whereas alcohol use did not differ across groups, persisters and desisters, compared to non-violent men, were more likely to use hard drugs, deal drugs, have a lifetime substance use disorder diagnosis, and show larger decreases in alcohol and marijuana frequency from emerging to young adulthood. None of these measures differed between persisters and desisters except that persisters reported larger decreases in alcohol and marijuana use frequency. Conclusions: The findings demonstrated reductions in serious violent offending during young adulthood and suggested that after adolescence, illicit drug use, compared to alcohol use, may play a more important role in initiation and maintenance of serious violent offending. Future research that examines the interrelations of drug use, drug culture, and violence is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-303
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Dealing
  • Desistance
  • Marijuana
  • Persistence
  • Substance use
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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