Alcoholism is a serious and life-threatening disease and, in many cases, alcoholics are very good at hiding the signs that indicate they have a problem.1 Unfortunately, one of the first signs for friends and family members that their loved one has a problem is legal trouble. Those who struggle with alcohol dependence lose the ability to make good choices and often find themselves facing a judge for a variety of reasons. From driving under the influence and stealing to get more alcohol to child neglect and domestic issues, the list can be a long and painful one. When this happens, alcohol problems that have gone unaddressed for a long time quickly rise to the surface.

Some of the legal issues commonly related to alcohol abuse include:

  • Domestic violence
  • Physical fights
  • Drinking and driving
  • Public intoxication

Just because someone gets into legal trouble as a result of his or her drinking, it does not necessarily mean that the person is an alcoholic; after all, anyone can make a mistake. However, if a person continues to drink regardless of the consequences, both legal and otherwise, he or she is likely suffering from an alcohol use disorder that will require treatment in order for healing to begin.

Man drinking alone

Alcoholism and Domestic Violence

Domestic violence refers to violence that occurs between family members in the home; it is usually perpetrated by an adult in the home on another adult – often in a romantic relationship – but it can be perpetrated upon or by elders, children, or other relatives in residence. Additionally, though most domestic violence is physical in nature, it can also mean emotional or sexual abuse. In any form, domestic violence wreaks serious havoc on the family unit and negatively affects everyone involved.

Some of the concerning facts surrounding alcohol use and domestic violence are:

  • Alcohol use is a factor in approximately 25 to 50 percent of domestic violence cases.
  • Alcoholics are more likely than other substance abusers to commit domestic violence acts and commit them more frequently.
  • Alcoholics tend to cause more serious injuries to their victims than abusers who were not using alcohol.
  • Alcoholics are more likely to sexually attack their partners.
  • Alcoholics are more likely to engage in violence outside the home.
  • Alcoholism increases the risk of domestic violence, even when the abuser is sober.
  • The highest rates of domestic violence are found in those who consider themselves to be moderate to heavy drinkers.

Fighting and Public Intoxication

As mentioned above, alcoholics who commit acts of domestic violence are more likely than non-alcoholic abusers to commit acts of violence outside of the home. Drunken brawls in the bar setting, at parties, or out on the street after a night of drinking are far from uncommon and can sometimes lead to serious legal consequences, including charges of assault or public intoxication.

Public intoxication charges or, similarly, charges of disturbing the peace, can be filed even when violence does not occur. If convicted, such charges can negatively impact a person’s self-image and harm his or her chances of employment and overall success.

Furthermore, legal consequences can often be costly and stressful and can sometimes cause the offender to drink more, thus creating a dangerous cycle.

Other Problems

Drinking and driving is a serious problem in the United States. Intoxicated or impaired driving is something that many alcoholics engage in on a regular basis. Not only does it carry the risk of legal ramifications, but it can also be deadly, both to the impaired driver and to his or her victims.

In addition to drinking and driving, desperate addicts may steal to fuel their drinking behaviors and may engage in other illegal or irresponsible acts. All of these consequences are in addition to the physical and emotional effects suffered by the alcoholic.

If your loved one is struggling with alcoholism, engaging them in effective and comprehensive treatment as soon as possible is recommended. The sooner they begin treatment, the quicker they can begin to heal from past legal issues related to substance abuse and avoid future charges. Call us at Black Bear Lodge today for more information on how your loved one can get started today.


1Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: MedlinePlus.” MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You. 31 Jan. 2018.