Objective: The aim of this project was to provide a comprehensive overview and quantitative synthesis of the links between alcohol, drugs, and violence with established meta-meta-analysis methodology. Gender, psychotic illness (present vs. absent), role (perpetrator vs. victim), substance (alcohol, drugs, or both), operationalizations of violence (e.g., laboratory observed violence, community reported violence, homicide records, etc.), and study design (experimental, case-control, cross-sectional, and longitudinal) were evaluated as potential moderators.

Method and Results: An extensive literature search resulted in 32 meta-analyses that met our inclusion criteria (i.e., quantitatively synthesized research assessing the link between alcohol or illicit drug use and violence perpetration/victimization) demonstrated a significant relationship between substance use and violence (grand weighted mean effect size of d = 0.45, 95% CI [0.36, 0.54], p < .001). Male gender, psychotic illness, experimental study design, and combined alcohol and illicit drug use increased the associations between substance use and violence. More important, the degree of association was similar across the types of violence assessed and roles (victim/perpetrator).

Conclusions: The current study shows that with respect to alcohol, illicit drugs, and violence, the overall relationship is a medium effect size that is robust across different populations, substances, types of violence, and both perpetration and victimization.

Duke, A. A., Smith, K. M. Z., Oberleitner, L. M. S., Westphal, A., & McKee, S. A.
Psychology of Violence, 8(2), 238-249. 2018