Researchers at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University have concluded a research study into the link between violence and alcohol. In their findings, they concluded that violence is higher when alcohol is more readily available. In order to come to this conclusion, the researchers studied data from neighborhoods within Philadelphia.

In addition to the investigating the effects of alcohol availability on violence, researchers also took into account socioeconomic standing and level of education. Of those three factors, violence was markedly higher and more likely when alcohol was easily accessible. This information may surprise some people who considered that violence and poverty go hand in hand.

One of the major catalysts to this study was the decision by Governor Tom Wolf to reduce limitations and regulations on the sale of alcohol in Pennsylvania. These changes would include allowing alcohol to be sold in grocery stores and allowing liquor stores to be open on Sundays. The premise of the study was to find out if increasing the availability of alcohol had any effect on violence, and it appears to have a major effect.

For instance, the study looked at wealthy neighborhoods that had an increase in the alcohol availability. Before the increase there was an average of 111 violent incidents per 10,000 people. After the increase that number rose to 168. Researchers also point out similar circumstances in Seattle, Washington. After the government chose to change alcohol license policies, making it easier for people to obtain licenses, thereby increasing the number of stores, bars and restaurants that sold alcohol, there was a 5% increase in the number of violent incidents in the city.

Those against the loosened restrictions in the state of Pennsylvania are looking at this study as a warning for what’s to come if the alcohol restrictions continue to lessen. “This study should make us concerned about the effects of widening the availability of alcohol on violence in Philadelphia neighborhoods,” explained Philadelphia’s health commissioner, Thoman Farley.

Researchers also provided ways in which they feel local government can help combat an increase in violence. They suggest that stores be limited in the hours they can sell alcohol, the state can raise taxes on alcohol and stores can reduce the amount of alcohol they display on shelves. According to the researchers, these solutions can help combat future problems.