Drug ‘hot‐spots’, alcohol availability and violence Academic Article uri icon


  • Ecological studies have shown a relationship between alcohol outlet densities and violence and between the location of crimes related to illicit drug use (so-called 'hot spots') and violence. To date, no study has compared the effects of alcohol outlets and drug hot spots on rates of violence. The present study examined this relationship in the City of Houston, Texas. An ecological study design was employed, using a sample of 439 census tracts from Houston, Texas. Neighborhood socio-structural, alcohol outlet density, drug crime density and violent crime density data were collected from archival sources and analyzed using multivariate and spatial statistics. Using ordinary least-squares analysis, the neighborhood socio-structural covariates explained about 40% of the variability in violent crime. Adding alcohol outlet density in the target census tracts explained an additional 6%, while the addition of drug crime density explained an additional 32%. In the final model, that controlled for the effects of autocorrelated error, both drug crime density in the target and adjacent census tracts remained significant predictors of violent crime, while only off-sale density in the target census tract remained significant in the model. The findings indicate that drug crime density explained a greater amount of variance in violent crime rates than the alcohol outlet density. The methodological and policy implications of these findings are discussed, along with the shortcomings of the analysis presented.

author list (cited authors)

  • GORMAN, D. M., ZHU, L. I., & HOREL, S.

citation count

  • 62

publication date

  • November 2005