Does Alcohol Use Increase Likelihood of Intimate Partner Violence?

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is strongly associated with several factors including, but not limited to, substance abuse, childhood maltreatment, socioeconomic disadvantage, sensation seeking, and risk taking. The negative outcomes of IPV victimization cover a constellation of adverse conditions such as physical injury, sexually transmitted disease, and HIV/AIDS, psychological distress, impaired mental health, and chronic pain. In Russia, the rates of IPV perpetration and victimization have been studied extensively. However, to date no study has compared the rates of IPV perpetration and victimization in the presence and absence of alcohol use.

To find out if IPV occurs more frequently when alcohol use is present, Weihai Zhan of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at the Yale School of Public Health in Connecticut recently analyzed data from a survey of 299 Russian women receiving treatment for sexually transmitted diseases in Russia. Zhan found that 37.8% reported being victims of IPV while almost as many; nearly 35% reported perpetrating IPV. Of the perpetrators, 47% reported that they had been using alcohol or drugs prior to the IPV. Of the victims, more than half reported being under the influence when the IPV occurred.

Other factors Zhan evaluated were age of first sexual experience, childhood abuse, and sensation seeking. Although these all increased likelihood of IPV, having a history of childhood abuse was the only factor that was directly influential of IPV perpetration without the presence of alcohol. Both physical and emotional abuse were considered and proven to be risk factors for future IPV perpetration in the absence of alcohol.

Zhan said, “Despite the strong association between substance use and IPV, experience of childhood abuse is an important predictor of IPV perpetration and victimization in Russia, above and beyond substance use.” These results underscore the importance of preventing child abuse and treating victims of physical and emotional abuse at the earliest time possible to minimize the risk of future perpetration and victimization.

Zhan, W., Shaboltas, A.V., Skochilov, R.V., Krasnoselskikh, T.V., Abdala, N. (2013). History of childhood abuse, sensation seeking, and intimate partner violence under/not under the influence of a substance: A cross-sectional study in Russia. PLoS ONE 8(7): e68027. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0068027

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  • Georgia


    July 29th, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    I am surprised that until now there have not been that many studies looking into just how strongly alcohol usage and IPV are associated. I thought that the correlation would be pretty high and see that this pans out via the study. There aren’t that many people out there who don’t get just a little more jealous and ambivalemt when they drink, and if they are stewing about an issue within the relationship, then drinking will only make that worse.

  • barry


    July 29th, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    there’s always gonna be people that cannot handle substances, be it drugs or alcohol.Im not saying these are good but some of us can handle and enjoy it all.anyway in such individuals alcohol can sometimes bring about violence and yes it could be directed towards the partner,so IPV can increase due to alcohol in my opinion.

  • phillip m

    phillip m

    July 30th, 2013 at 4:25 AM

    I have known a lot of really great people in my life who are just fine until they start drinking, and then once they get a few drinks in them they become the biggest jerks that you have ever seen. They verbally and yes, even physically abuse others even though they would never do this when they are sober. There is just something about the way that alcohol interacts in some people that makes it pretty evil stuff.

  • Lisa


    July 30th, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    I really do believe that we are placing the blame on the wrong thing here. Ok, so alcohol could make you a little less inhibited, but it is not going to throw you into this fit of rage if you did not already have this tendency about you right?
    Same thing withbeing Miss Personality. Alcohol is not going to cause you to become something that you aren’t already inside. It it just might have more of a tendency to bring something that is already lurking there to the surface.

  • judy


    July 30th, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    ^^^so should we try and keep away from people that mater in our lives or do we try to keep alcohol away from them?I bet you would say the latter.alcohol is what needs to be shunned not the person because he has those qualities ‘inside’ of him or her.

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