Josh Chandler | October 5, 2022

Jeffrey Dahmer’s Alcohol Addiction

When Did Jeffrey Dahmer’s Addiction to Alcohol Start?

Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the United States’ best-known serial murderers, has returned to the limelight again because of Netflix’s new true crime series Monster. He was known for his gruesome murders, cannibalistic tendencies, and other horrific experimental procedures to try and “zombify” victims via lobotomy and other methods. He murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys in total between the years of 1978 to 1991.

Dahmer began abusing alcohol early in his life. According to some sources, he began to drink regularly around the age of 13, in 1973. There is speculation that childhood trauma associated with a double hernia operation at four years old (after which he was certain his genitals had been removed and he had notably changed in demeanor), along with potential (unsubstantiated) psychological and sexual abuse, abandonment issues, and witnessing his mother struggling with mental illness herself could have been the root cause of his homicidal tendencies, and his alcoholism as well.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s story is a tragic example of how substance abuse can intertwine with deeper psychological issues and lead to devastating consequences. From his high school days in Ohio, Dahmer’s regular alcohol and drug use became apparent. He was often perceived as a loner and unpredictable, turning to alcohol, which he would drink covertly in class. His behavior, including pulling practical jokes, was so distinctive that it became known as “doing a Dahmer” among his peers.

At a Beverly Hills drug rehab facility, the case of Jeffrey Dahmer highlights the interconnected struggles of substance abuse and mental health. Dahmer’s challenges with his sexuality and self-loathing are believed to have driven him to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. This pattern of substance abuse escalated over time and alarmingly became intertwined with his ritualistic acts of serial killings. His first known murder at the age of 18, involving the hitchhiker Steven Hicks, included a shared experience of getting drunk at Dahmer’s house. The encounter took a violent turn when Dahmer killed Hicks after learning he intended to leave. This tragic story underscores the profound impact of substance abuse on an individual’s mental health and behavior.

Throughout his life until his arrest in the early 1990s, Dahmer was a functioning alcoholic, demonstrating how deeply entrenched his addiction was. His case underscores the complex and sometimes dark relationship between substance abuse and mental health issues, highlighting the importance of early intervention and comprehensive treatment that addresses both addiction and underlying psychological factors in drug rehab facilities Los Angeles.

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A Psychiatrist’s Perspective on Jeffrey Dahmer

Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist, was the person who testified for the prosecution during Jeffrey Dahmer’s sanity trial. During his time on the stand, Dr. Dietz said that he found Dahmer’s alcohol abuse to have been a way to get through the murder and was trying to find people who would have homosexual relations with him through heinous acts. He proposed that Dahmer may not have killed people who wanted to perform these acts with him but used murder as a “means to an end.”

He was officially diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and a psychotic disorder but was found legally sane at trial. His mental health issues, childhood trauma, being bullied as a teen, and his alcohol use disorder were the reasons behind his crimes. He was excessively rational, did not enjoy killing, and drank to numb the painful emotions that accompanied each murder.

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How Alcohol Played a Role in Jeffrey Dahmer Murders

Alcohol abuse played a large role throughout Jeffrey Dahmer’s life. From his high school antics, he then enrolled at Ohio State University in 1978 but dropped out soon after due to his drinking problem. He then enrolled in the U.S. Army in 1979, where he was drinking heavily, but was able to get training to be a medical specialist and was sent to Germany as a combat medic. During his second year, his superiors noticed he was using alcohol abuse as a way to get out of service, showing up drunk, and after an unsuccessful period of time spent in an alcohol abuse program, he was discharged as “unsuitable for military service due to alcohol abuse” and upon returning home was soon arrested for disorderly conduct and violating public open container laws. He then moved in with his grandmother in 1981, arrested again in 1982 for drunk, disorderly conduct, and indecent exposure.

This alcohol abuse and criminal activity pattern lasted the rest of his life. Further murders were committed, with most victims meeting at clubs and bars. It is theorized that his alcohol abuse was a way to deal with self-loathing due to his homosexuality, and it was also a coping mechanism he used to numb his emotions as he killed his victims.

As Dr. Dietz concluded, “His drinking more alcohol to overcome his inhibition against killing is very important evidence that there was no compulsion to kill and no impulse to kill and that he could conform to his behavior,” meaning he was sane and used alcohol to get through the act of murder itself. He continued as an alcoholic until his arrest, being found guilty and sane, and sentenced to 15 life terms, eventually murdered by another inmate who claimed the guards left them alone on purpose.


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Learn how you can forgive an alcoholic in our blog below:

How to Forgive an Alcoholic

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Programs

Of course, alcohol and drug addiction does not cause a person to become the next Jeffrey Dahmer. In fact, the two issues are only slightly correlated. Many people who have a mental illness or who have experienced trauma in their lives are also slightly more susceptible to having a substance use disorder, and in the case of Dahmer, he had several chemical imbalances, environmental issues, and traumatic incidents that led to his ultimate state of murderousness and depravity.

Drug addiction and alcoholism are treatable conditions, as are mental health issues, and getting help can be as simple as contacting the Muse for Los Angeles drug rehab. We offer an integrated continuum of care with dual diagnosis treatments for co-occurring disorders including alcohol addiction and PTSD or mental illness. Levels of care offered include medical detox programs, inpatient rehab, and outpatient treatment options including partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, customized outpatient rehab programs, and alumni support.

At Muse Addiction Treatment Center, we provide:

  • Medical detox programs with medications, medical care, and therapy in a round-the-clock program, with longer-term medication-assisted treatment programs available if needed
  • Inpatient rehab Los Angeles with support and a sober community, 24-hour care, several types of therapy, health care, counseling, holistic treatments, group therapy, and educational programs in a supportive and comfortable atmosphere
  • Flexible outpatient programs that can be tailored and evolve to suit your needs as you progress through your treatment program, living at home or in a sober living home
  • Dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, depression and other mood disorders, PTSD, etc.
  • Group therapy and family therapy to help you build a caring support network and know you are not alone as you recover
  • Individual therapy and counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR, etc.
  • Life skills and vocational skills programming
  • Holistic treatments that will help you reconnect with yourself on a spiritual level and heal the body-mind connection, with nutrition and physical fitness counseling, mindfulness, yoga, art therapy, etc.
  • Connections to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and other peer support programs
  • An aftercare program that can last as long as you want it to, so you are never alone in the treatment

Your unique program will be customized to suit your needs, including the program’s levels of care and length. You will learn new beneficial habits, gain recovery skills, learn new relapse prevention skills, and build new connections with loved ones and new sober friends as you learn to reframe your thinking and behaviors in healthier ways.

Therapy will help you heal the underlying causes of addiction, work through any issues that cause you trouble or emotional pain, and create new coping strategies to help you in your future endeavors. We also offer case management services to help you get back on your feet, helping you with anything you may need to have a smooth transition back to your life when you leave rehab, like social skills, independent living skills, or finding a job.

Please call Muse Addiction Treatment Center at (800) 426-1818 today to learn more about insurance coverage for rehab, mental health care, and addiction rehabilitation, or if you have any questions about what recovery means and how to get started on your own path to sobriety. We are here, and we can help you now.


Alcohol Abuse,Alcohol Addiction,Mental Health,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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