Alcohol key to lethal punching incidents

December 2, 2013
Alcohol key to lethal punching deaths
The study found alcohol intoxication also increased the risk of victimisation, not just aggressive offending

A nation-wide study into head-punching, or "king-hit" deaths in Australia found alcohol was a major contributing factor to the violent fatalities, and not necessarily in combination with the use of other drugs.

Detailed in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers from Monash University and the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine reviewed 90 king-hit cases resulting in death, cited in coroners' reports over a 12-year period to December 2012.

Toxicological reports for 63 of the cases revealed that alcohol was involved in the majority (49) with the victims' blood-alcohol reading registering at up to four times the legal driving limit in Australia. Illicit drugs were detected in 10 cases of which most involved cannabis. Pharmaceutical drugs were detected in three other cases.

Lead author Dr Jennifer Pilgrim, a Research Fellow at Monash University's Department of Forensic Medicine, said also increased the risk of victimisation, not just aggressive offending.

"Assaults are an ongoing problem in Australian society and king hits form a large part of these substance-related and often unprovoked attacks," Dr Pilgrim said.

"It was surprising to find that alcohol was involved in the majority of cases. We expected the use of drugs other than alcohol to be a major factor in this cohort but it was not the case.

"Although it is commonly accepted that people under the influence of alcohol are more likely to become aggressive and violently offend, this study indicates that alcohol also increases the risk of becoming a victim of a violent act."

Cases reviewed in the study were aged between 15 and 78, with an average age of 33 years. Four of the 90 victims were women. Of the 90 cases cited, 28 occurred in New South Wales, followed by Victoria and Queensland (24).

Dr Pilgrim said a significant number of young men were victims of these tragic premature deaths and there was more to be done to curb alcohol-fuelled violence on the streets.

"Alcohol and drug misuse are significant problems among the community, but this study shows that in the case of violent assaults, is the more urgent contributing issue," Dr Pilgrim said

"To curb alcohol-fuelled violence, we need to alter the drinking culture in Australia - particularly among young people. Education campaigns, limitations on sponsorship and advertising of , and more research to support and guide prevention campaigns are key to a healthier future for Australia."

The study did not include cases still in criminal courts or under investigation by the coroner, or non-fatal cases where victims were left with permanent disability.

Dr Dimitri Gerostamoulos and Professor Olaf Drummer of Monash and the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine collaborated on the research.

Explore further: Ibuprofen-codeine misuse a health risk

Related Stories

Ibuprofen-codeine misuse a health risk

September 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers have recommended that drugs combining codeine and other pain killers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, be restricted to prescription-only following reports of misuse and fatalities.

Study quantifies direct effect of alcohol misuse on 20-somethings

September 3, 2013
University of Otago, Christchurch researchers have for the first time quantified exactly what damage alcohol abuse is inflicting on 20-somethings, and in turn society.

Drivers who test positive for drugs have triple the risk of a fatal car crash

September 25, 2013
Drugged driving has been a safety issue of increasing public concern in the United States and many other countries but its role in motor vehicle crashes had not been adequately examined. In a new study conducted at Columbia ...

Younger teens more likely to use alcohol if they live near bottle shops

November 14, 2013
Deakin University researchers have found higher rates of underage drinking among young people who live in areas with a high number of alcohol outlets.

Higher than expected rates of U.S. alcohol abuse disorders

November 27, 2013
Disorders related to the abuse of alcohol contribute significantly to the burden of disease in the U.S., finds a new study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Researchers estimated that in 2005, about 53,000 ...

Teens who drink alone more likely to develop alcohol problems as young adults

November 18, 2013
Most teenagers who drink alcohol do so with their friends in social settings, but a new study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh reveals that a significant number of adolescents ...

Recommended for you

Concern with potential rise in super-potent cannabis concentrates

July 21, 2017
University of Queensland researchers are concerned the recent legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia may give rise to super-potent cannabis concentrates with associated harmful effects.

Findings link aldosterone with alcohol use disorder

July 18, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, demonstrates that aldosterone, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, may contribute ...

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

July 17, 2017
A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.

Why does prenatal alcohol exposure increase the likelihood of addiction?

July 7, 2017
One of the many negative consequences when fetuses are exposed to alcohol in the womb is an increased risk for drug addiction later in life. Neuroscientists in the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions are ...

Researchers say U.S. policies on drugs and addiction could use a dose of neuroscience

June 23, 2017
Tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdoses every year – around 50,000 in 2015 – and the number has been steadily climbing for at least the last decade and a half, according to the National Institute on Drug ...

Study provides further support for genetic factors underlying addictions

June 13, 2017
Impairment of a particular gene raises increases susceptibility to opioid addiction liability as well as vulnerability to binge eating according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.