A pair of studies conducted at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, concluded that the consumption of alcohol is more likely than marijuana to lead to domestic violence, highlighting the importance of violence prevention as it relates to alcohol abuse.

It has been known for decades that there is a link between alcohol consumption and domestic violence, but the research is slim when it comes to marijuana. The participants were male and female college students at least 18 years of age who had been in a relationship for at least a month, had face-to-face contact with their partner at least 2 times a week, and had consumed alcohol in the previous month. The studies asked participants to complete an online diary once a day for 90 days. Based on the results, the odds of physical, psychological, and sexual violence among men increased with the use of alcohol, and rose with each drink consumed, whereas marijuana use was unrelated to violence between couples. For women, alcohol use increased the odds of physical and psychological aggression, and marijuana use increased the likelihood of psychological aggression.

The study comes as a growing number of states legalize medical and recreational marijuana use. However, Gregory Stuart, a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, believes it’s too soon to make definitive conclusions regarding marijuana and domestic violence. “The research in this area is quite young and, to date, studies have provided conflicting evidence regarding its role in increasing the odds for violence,” Stuart said in a statement. “However, we now have numerous studies suggesting alcohol use does increase the odds for violence between partners.”

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The authors of the studies say their research suggests that dating violence prevention and intervention programs should target reduction in alcohol use, particularly among college students. According to Ryan Shorey, a psychology doctoral student involved with the study, most of the programs largely ignore alcohol use.


  1. UT research finds link between alcohol use, not pot, and domestic violence. The University of Tennessee Knoxville website. January 27, 2014. http://tntoday.utk.edu/2014/01/27/research-link-alcohol-not-pot-domestic-violence.
  2. Weller C. Alcohol, not marijuana, use tied to domestic violence; psychological aggression most common. Medical Daily website. January 27, 2014. http://www.medicaldaily.com/alcohol-not-marijuana-use-tied-domestic-violence-psychological-aggression-most-common-267973.