The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed 16 studies that examined the connection between alcohol sales regulations in communities and rates of domestic violence. They looked at the number of alcohol sales outlets, hours of days of alcohol sales, and alcohol pricing/taxes. The number of locations where alcohol was sold was the only factor consistently matched with rates of domestic violence. According to the researchers, location numbers included bars and restaurants, and liquor, grocery and convenience stores. The new findings appear in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Most of the studies reviewed by the CDC research team found that communities with more places to buy or drink alcohol also had higher rates of domestic violence. However, the association seen in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
“The studies that we reviewed do not indicate that alcohol outlet density or the outlets themselves cause partner violence,” Dennis Reidy, a behavioral scientist at the CDC, said. The study’s findings do suggest that local regulation of alcohol outlet density may be able to reduce rates of domestic violence within a community, he added.
A number of states and communities across the United States have created laws to reduce excessive drinking. For example, licensing and zoning laws are used to limit the number of places where people can buy alcohol, and act as an early line of intervention for problem drinkers.
Of course we can’t regulate our way to ending the devastation caused by excessive drinking, as evidenced by other attempts to do so. However, reducing the availability may just prove to be a useful intervention and prevention measure.