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Invited Commentary
Firearm Violence
March 2017

The Roles of Alcohol and Drugs in Firearm Violence

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Gun Policy and Research and Center for Mental Health and Addiction Policy Research, Department for Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(3):324-325. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8192

Alcohol and drugs play substantial roles in firearm violence in the United States, including both homicide and suicide. As evidenced by the case-control study by Hohl and colleagues1 in this issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, the relationship occurs on multiple levels. The study found that measures of individual, family, and neighborhood substance use—particularly for illicit drugs—increased the risk of becoming a victim of firearm homicide among Philadelphia adolescents. These findings contribute to a larger body of research suggesting that there are multiple direct and indirect pathways by which alcohol and drugs can increase the risk of firearm homicide and suicide. Delineation of such pathways is crucial for interventions to prevent firearm violence.