AA Membership Lowers Murder Rate

Noting the relationship between drinking and violent crime, a new study suggests that increased membership in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) could actually lower the murder rate in a community, Reuters reported Sept. 25.

Researchers from the University of Toronto and Dalhousie University studied AA membership in Ontario between 1968 and 1991 and noted that as more problem drinkers joined the group, the murder rate in the province dropped. Authors Robert Mann and Mark Asbridge calculated that for every increase of one AA member per 100,000 residents, the Ontario murder rate fell 0.3 to 0.5 percent.

"Our study showed that total and male homicide rates in Ontario were strongly related to average levels of alcohol consumption," the University of Toronto’s Mann said. "These observations confirm previous research showing that alcohol is a leading contributor to violence, as well as violence-related mortality."

The findings applied to men only. "Males drink more often, more heavily and consume more beer and spirits than females," said Asbridge, of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "Moreover, the nature of the link between alcohol consumption and violence is more readily a male experience, for example, drinking heavily in bar settings leads to aggression and violence."

The study was published in the October 2006 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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