Drugs That Fuel Violent Behavior

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Drugs and violence have always been closely interlinked. When a person uses drugs, their brain wiring changes, resulting in a change of behavior that can lead to violence. Furthermore, if an individual already has violent tendencies, drugs will usually fuel those tendencies and make them more pronounced. There are many types of drugs that fuel violent behavior, including methamphetamines, alcohol, anabolic steroids, etc. Even marijuana can fuel violent behavior in certain cases! At Bright Futures Boynton Beach, we believe that understanding the link between drugs and violent behavior is the best starting point toward a lasting recovery. In this article, we will explain exactly how drugs fuel violent behavior, the most common types of “violent” drugs, their risk factors, and how they contribute to family violence, as well as provide you with healthy alternatives.

How do drugs fuel violent behavior?

Since there are literally hundreds of different drugs, it is impossible to explain exactly how each one of them fuels violent behavior. Furthermore, simply using the drug will not necessarily lead to violence. There are several ways through which drugs increase the likelihood of violent behavior, including:

  • Disinhibition
  • Myopia
  • Impairment of cognitive functions
limited field of vision due to Drugs That Fuel Violent Behavior
Drugs usually narrow your field of vision.

Furthermore, people who abuse drugs do not usually think about the consequences of their actions while intoxicated. This focus on the “here and now” is what makes individuals become more aggressive while under the drug’s influence. Lastly, there is a large difference between synthetic and organic drugs when it comes to their potential to induce violent behavior. Some synthetic drugs are specially created to promote aggressiveness, after all. In general, synthetic drugs are much more powerful than their organic counterparts and are far more dangerous. This is not to say that organic drugs are safe, of course, only that they are the lesser evil among the two.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the ways in which drugs may promote violent behavior.


Drugs have a disinhibiting effect on people. This means that, under the drug’s effects, people are more likely to engage in behaviors that they would otherwise suppress. Aggression is one of these behaviors. We all get angry from time to time, after all, but it is our inhibitions that stop us from becoming violent. Drugs lower or completely remove those inhibitions and make it easier to “surrender” to violent behavior.

Regardless of the type, any drug will disrupt the normal functions of the brain. This, in turn, weakens the brain’s areas that serve to control urges and impulses. Of course, the impact on our inhibitions depends on the type of the drug, natural tolerance, and a variety of other factors as well. Not everyone who gets intoxicated turns into a violent maniac, after all.


Drugs that fuel violent behavior usually narrow the individual’s focus. This is quite similar to Myopia (Nearsightedness), where a person can’t see clearly outside of a small frame. What usually happens is that an intoxicated person misperceives a situation or a gesture and becomes violent in response. A prime example of this behavior is when someone bumps into a drunk person at a bar. While most sober people will brush such an encounter off as nothing significant, an intoxicated person can consider it to be an act of hostility. This is due to the fact that their view is so narrow that they do not consider anything else but the bump itself. It annoys them at the moment and they want to express their annoyance in a violent way.

person being violent to another
Drugs can create violence from misperception.

Impairment of cognitive functions

Most of the drugs that fuel violent behavior have one thing in common: All of them impair cognitive functions in some way. While some drugs may increase the brain’s processing power or make you think more clearly, your judgment will always be impaired in one way or another when under the effects of any drug. Needless to say, this can easily lead to making bad decisions and becoming violent as a result. Furthermore, anger management while intoxicated can be extremely challenging due to other effects of the drug. When you combine bad decisions with lowered anger management, you get the recipe for violence.

Types of drugs that fuel violent behavior

The term “drug” is a very broad one. There are tens of thousands of different drugs on the U.S. market alone, without even considering drugs that are used in the rest of the world. Most of those drugs do not carry any potential for violence, and they are used for medical purposes. Illicit drugs, however, almost always come with a higher risk of fueling violent behavior. Unfortunately, there are perfectly legal drugs that can lead to violence. Some drugs are also used for medicinal purposes but are easy to abuse if taken outside of prescription.

Here is the list of some of the most dangerous drugs when it comes to violence-inducing behavior:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Opiates/Opioids
  • Sedatives
  • Hallucinogens (PCP, LSD, etc.)
  • Cocaine
glass of whiskey, representing the Drugs That Fuel Violent Behavior
Alcohol is one of the most dangerous “violent” drugs.

Aside from the abovementioned drugs, it is also worth noting that marijuana can also fuel violent behavior in certain cases. While this particular drug is often seen as harmless, there are situations in which it can induce fear, distrust, anxiety, and even acute psychosis. Needless to say, these symptoms can easily lead to violent behavior.

As you can see, even a “harmless” drug can lead to violence in certain situations. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that abusing any drug is inherently bad and should be avoided at all costs. While it is possible to undergo one of the drug rehab Florida programs and achieve a lasting recovery, it is always best if you don’t get addicted in the first place. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how various drugs may fuel violent behavior, starting with the most prolific one.


Alcohol is the most commonly used drug around the world. In the U.S. almost 65% of the total population consumes alcohol at one time or another. The fact that so many establishments rely on alcohol to create profits only adds to the drug’s popularity. However, alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs when it comes to violence. There have been numerous studies that explored the link between alcohol and violence and they mostly all agree that consuming alcohol makes a person more inclined to commit violent acts. One study, in particular, found that around 25% of participants who drank alcohol in a 12-month period also committed a violent crime during that same year.

Furthermore, consuming alcohol on a daily basis can easily lead to addiction. When a person is addicted to any drug, they tend to prioritize acquiring the drug over anything else. Some people realize what they are doing and opt to enroll in an alcohol rehab program instead, but they are in the minority. Most people try to justify their behavior in one way or another.

The way in which alcohol fuels violent behavior is by lowering your inhibitions and preventing proper impulse control. This means that a drunk person will often overreact to perceived threats in a violent manner. Under the influence of alcohol, your brain will process information in a different way and can set you off toward violent behavior. Even a simple change of plans or a delay of some sort can trigger an aggressive reaction when a person is under the alcohol’s influence.

person drinking alcohol
Even a small dose of alcohol can influence your thinking.


Amphetamines are stimulants that are often used in treating various attention deficit disorders, such as ADHD and ADD. They are also used in treating narcolepsy and several other issues. The most common Amphetamine on the U.S. market is Adderall, also known by its street names such as “Speed”, “Uppers”, or “Bennies”. While using the drug in strictly prescribed doses is not dangerous, abusing amphetamines can easily lead to violence and other long-term effects such as psychosis and paranoia. Unfortunately, it is rather easy to abuse the drug, as Amphetamine can be somewhat easily acquired. On the other side, prescription drugs addiction treatment is readily available and can help you get your life back on track. The best thing to do if you find yourself addicted to Amphetamines is to seek help at your local treatment center.


Out of all the drugs that fuel violent behavior, methamphetamine is probably the most dangerous. The simple fact that “Meth rage” is a medical term explains the danger easily enough. Furthermore, regular meth consumption can lower your inhibitions even more than alcohol can, potentially leading to acts of violence. This is further exacerbated if the person using meth already had some anger issues, or if they were suffering from another condition such as depression. In these cases, meth rage can be even more pronounced and dangerous.

The main issue with meth is that anyone addicted to it has only one goal in life – finding the next “hit”. As you might imagine, this usually leads to violence in one way or another, as there will be situations where that might seem to be the only way to get your hands on the drug. While there are meth rehab Florida solutions, most people need to realize that meth is ruining their lives first. This can be quite difficult, due to the narrow focus of meth addiction. Due to this fact, most meth addicts need outside help to become sober.

meth crystals, representing one of the Drugs That Fuel Violent Behavior
Meth usually comes in crystal form.

It is also important to note that not everyone who uses meth is aggressive. Meth, on its own, does not induce violent feelings. Violent outbursts usually come via other factors such as cravings, environment, anxiety, or even paranoia. What meth does do, however, is change your memory patterns and emotional responses. This is what makes you more likely to commit violent acts.

Anabolic steroids

Anabolic steroids are commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders. These drugs are always synthetic, and their main purpose is to provide synthetic testosterone (male sex hormone). Aside from bodybuilders and anyone who wants to facilitate muscle restoration, anabolic steroids are often used by teenagers who experience delayed puberty. Abusing anabolic steroids, however, is extremely dangerous and can lead to violent outbursts. While these steroids do not induce any sort of a “high”, the body becomes addicted to them after a period of use. Once a person stops taking anabolic steroids, they usually feel restless and experience significant mood swings.

This feeling of restlessness is what fuels violent behavior. Furthermore, anabolic steroids also affect your impulse control, making it easy to succumb to violent emotions.


Opiates and opioids have been used in medicine for decades. Typically derived from the resin of the opium poppy, these drugs have analgesic properties and can help with pain management. However, they can also be abused to get a certain “high”, as well. The most common opiates are Morphine and Codeine, but there are hundreds of synthetic opioids including heroin, oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl, etc. Opiates are incredibly addictive as they interact with the dopamine levels of the body, meaning that your body will develop a dependence on them.

heroin packages
Heroin is one of the most dangerous opiates around.

The difference between opiates/opioids and other anger-inducing drugs is that opiates do not create violent outbursts during their use. The increase in violent tendencies usually comes from the withdrawal process. Once a person is addicted to opiates, they usually become more dishonest with their friends, family, and co-workers, leading to various situations that may induce violent behavior.


Sedatives may not be one of the most common drugs that fuel violent behavior but they do have the potential for it. Also known as Benzodiazepines, sedatives are highly addictive drugs that may lead to violence in certain cases. Similar to opiates, sedatives may induce violent behavior during the withdrawal process but there is also some evidence that a person experiences increased violent tendencies during intoxication, as well.

Not every sedative is the same when it comes to aggression, of course. Here are some of the sedatives that have been linked to aggression in the past:

  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)

Hallucinogens (PCP, LSD, etc.)

As you might imagine, any drug that has the potential to induce hallucinations can also induce violent behavior. Hallucinogens such as PCP (Phenylcyclohexyl piperidine) and LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) are psychoactive drugs that create a certain psychedelic state in their users, making them feel like they are not in the real world anymore. Needless to say, these feelings may make you forget about any of your responsibilities and weigh your mind down so violence seems to be the only answer.

LSD packet on a tongue
All hallucinogens have a high potential to induce violence.


Alongside alcohol and meth, cocaine is one of the most dangerous drugs that fuel violent behavior. A person on cocaine experiences short-term feelings of euphoria but they can also feel paranoia and anxiety. The reason why cocaine is so dangerous is that people tend to overthink and become suspicious under its influence. Some people even build incredible conspiracy theories that oftentimes lead to violent acts. Furthermore, as the person uses cocaine on a regular basis, their body builds tolerance to it. This, in turn, leads to taking more and more of the drug, increasing the risk of violence and overdose. Other cocaine abuse symptoms include agitation, impulsivity, mania, and psychosis, all of which may contribute to violent behavior.

Crack cocaine

Crack cocaine, or simply “crack”, is a variant of cocaine that produces even faster euphoric effects. Unlike cocaine, which is snorted, crack is smoked instead. Due to the ingestion method, crack cocaine is even more dangerous than cocaine, with similar adverse effects. Aside from being able to cause violence, prolonged crack use can lead to numerous crack cocaine addiction symptoms such as:

  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Heightened blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Constricted blood vessels

All these symptoms have the potential to induce aggression in one way or another. Not only that but using crack over a long period of time can have life-threatening consequences, as well. Therefore, it is best to seek crack cocaine rehab as soon as you realize that you, or a loved one, have developed an addiction to it.

cocaine packets
Cocaine can be found in many forms and shapes.

Risk factors, causes, and statistics

While everyone has the potential to become violent under the effects of any drug, there are certain factors that might increase this chance. Some of the most common risk factors for substance-fueled violence include:

  • Gender – Males have a higher chance of becoming aggressive when under the influence of any drug.
  • Age – Younger people tend to be more aggressive.
  • Location – Individuals who are raised in impoverished locations have a higher tendency toward drug use and violence.
  • Family history of drug abuse – Self-explanatory.
  • Co-occurring mental health issues – Individuals with mental health issues are more prone to violent outbursts when using drugs.
  • Genetic predisposition – Some people are simply genetically predisposed to violence. Drug use usually brings these predispositions into reality.

The statistics on drugs and violence clearly indicate the link between the two. For example, around 80% of prison inmates used to abuse drugs or alcohol at some point, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Furthermore, more than 240,000 Americans are sent to prison each year for drug-related crimes, and 26% of all arrests in the U.S. are related to drug offenses.

Here are some more drug-related crime statistics:

  • More than 315,000 Americans are arrested for being drunk each year.
  • Almost 50% of all homicide convicts were drinking before the act.
  • Almost 50,000 U.S. citizens are arrested for the sale and/or manufacture of cocaine, heroin, and their derivative products.
  • About 40% of all state prisoners state that they used drugs when they were arrested.
  • More than 1.15 million U.S. citizens are arrested each year for the sale, possession, or manufacture of illegal substances.
  • Around 27% of inmates in federal prisons report that they had a parent or guardian who abused drugs or alcohol.
a prisoner in a cell
Around 80% of all inmates abuse alcohol or drugs.

The last statistic is quite shocking. It clearly shows that drugs have a profound impact when it comes to family violence.

Drugs and family violence

Partaking in any drugs that fuel violent behavior can lead to domestic violence. This includes all sorts of aggressive behaviors such as sexual assault, suicide attempts, and other acts of violence.

Domestic violence may include any of the following:

  • Physical intimidation
  • Threats
  • Destroying another’s possessions
  • Physical acts of violence (hair pulling, punching, slapping, hitting, etc.)
  • Hurting pets

While domestic violence can come from numerous sources, drugs are, by far, the most common culprit. In fact, almost 80% of all domestic violence crimes are somehow related to drug usage. People that are intoxicated often exhibit highly irrational, controlling, or violent behavior toward their family members. More importantly, children that have to deal with addicted parents have a much higher chance of becoming addicts in the future. Furthermore, if both parties in the household have a substance use disorder, the chance of domestic violence increases drastically.

Healthy alternatives to drugs

Most people who use drugs use them to get to experience a certain “high”, and to feel good. What most of them don’t understand is that there are healthy alternatives that can produce a similar high on their own, a high that is perfectly natural. The best alternative to drugs is to simply exercise or play sports. By doing so, your body will release natural hormones and endorphins that will make you feel good. Other alternatives include taking up a new hobby, taking a language class, making a difference in your neighborhood, etc.

The important thing is to identify the things that make you happy and then focus on those activities. However, this can be quite difficult to do at times, as many people will simply respond “Drugs are the only thing that makes me happy!”. Luckily, this is never the case. Everything that a drug can provide can be found through a healthy alternative. The trick is figuring out which alternatives work best for you!

The best place to achieve lasting recovery – Bright Futures Treatment Center

Every person is completely unique. This also means that recovering from addiction is a path that everyone walks on their own. At Bright Futures, we believe that each individual has the potential to lead a happy, fulfilling, and drug-free life. They just need an individualized treatment program. If you want to achieve long-lasting recovery, all you need to do is get in touch with us and allow us to help you!

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