Vol. 3, No. 1 , 1997, Page 1


The cost of substance abuse is huge: thousands of people killed by drunk drivers, tens of thousands of infants born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or damaged prenatally by drugs, and millions of broken homes and shattered lives. The cost to the justice system is incalculably high as well, because substance abuse-in addition to being a crime in itself, when illegal drugs are abused- plays a major role in crimes ranging from wife-beating to homicide. A 1987 study by Welte and Miller, for instance, found that alcohol consumption by criminal subjects was four times that of the general population, and that nearly half of the criminals they studied (most of whom were violent offenders) had committed their crimes under the influence of alcohol. Other research, recently corroborated (See Crime Times, Vol. 3, No. 1, Page 1&3&7), indicates that one subgroup of alcoholics is characterized by serious, chronic antisocial behavior beginning early in life.

In this issue, we look at exciting new evidence that alcoholism and drug abuse have a strong biological basis. Why "exciting?" Because our increasing knowledge about the physiological roots of substance abuse will allow us, for the first time, to provide real medical help to alcoholics and drug users-and, in doing so, to protect the people they victimize.

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