Geospatial distribution of alcohol-related violence in Northern Virginia

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Abstract

This paper establishes a modeling framework for alcohol abuse that allows evaluation of interventions meant to reduce adverse effects of alcohol overuse without the financial, social and other costs of imposing interventions that are ultimately ineffective (or even simply not cost effective). The framework is ecological (individual agents and their activities are represented), stochastic (neither individual behavior nor consequences of interventions are certain) and flexible.

In the developed world such as the United States, based on Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost [Ezz02], alcohol is the third leading cause of mortality and morbidity. Much of the mortality and morbidity is associated intentional acts (for example violence, suicide) and unintentional injuries (for example, crashes, falls, burns) as a result of drinking behavior. Interventions designed to reduce both chronic and acute mortality and morbidity associated with alcohol use may be effective in limited circumstances. However, often suppressing one negative outcome can have the impact of increasing other negative outcomes. This paper discusses a systemic approach to understanding the complex interactions and consequently exploring the effect of interventions within sectors of the complex ecological-like system that surrounds users and abusers of alcohol. The tool that we have developed effectively allows the investigator to play the “what if” games to find improved strategies and subsequently design intervention strategies toward accomplishing the desired reductions in negative outcomes.