The Link Between Domestic Violence and Drug Abuse…

Can drug and alcohol use cause people to become violent?

We have all at one time or another have known or know someone that has suffered from some type of drug addiction or domestic violence. Sometimes these situations touch us very close and have a direct impact on us or our families.

The statistical linkage between alcohol and drug use and domestic violence would strongly suggest that there must be a cause-and-effect relationship. More than 20 percent of male perpetrators of intimate abuse use alcohol or drugs immediately before the most recent and severe incidents of violence. 

Many studies have found a strong connection between excessive alcohol use and the action of partner violence, although there is not yet a consensus on the cause and effect- whether the drinking causes such men to be violent or whether the alcohol abuse is used as a way to excuse the violence. Unsurprisingly, the victims of intimate partner violence tend to be mostly female.

Compared to men, women have a 5-8 times higher chance of being abused by an intimate partner. Most of the partner abuse takes place in the home.

Victims of domestic abuse are at a higher risk of suffering mental health problems. Women who experience partner violence are diagnosed with a psychiatric condition, women in general are twice as likely as men to develop a mental health disorder. Victims of domestic abuse are more likely to use tobacco and marijuana, as well as engage in other compulsive behaviors.

Domestic violence and substance abuse create a very dangerous situation for the victim in the relationship, for a couple of major reasons. The presence of drugs and alcohol in the victim’s system may make resisting the attacker unfeasible- for example, if the victim is drugged to deliberately reduce inhibitions and resistance of sexual advances. A victim may not be able to fully assess the danger being posed and may be compelled to remain in a threatening situation because of the effects of drug or alcohol.

Violence driven by substance abuse impacts the rest of the family unit, the factors that connect violence toward family members and drug addiction do not necessarily come to an end when the abuser discontinues the drug intake. Trauma and reduced happiness can last for years after the last instance of violence or drug consumption, with the relationship between the family members and each person’s individual psychological wellbeing permanently damaged as a result of their abuser’s behavior. Those children who experience violence at the hands of a parent or guardian either firsthand, or by seeing or hearing a drug-using parent abuse another member of the family have a high chance of developing their own alcohol and drug problems when they reach adulthood. Evidence further suggests that children who run away from violent homes also risk becoming substance abusers.

Recent research has showed that teenagers who experience domestic violence and other trauma during their childhood grew up with problems in specific areas of their brains – namely, the regions of the brain that connect emotions to thoughts and that regulate behavior. As a result, the children grow up into teenagers, and then adults, who struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, and ultimately continue the cycle of alcohol and drug abuse as an expression of the risky and impulsive behavior that develops as a result of the brain abnormalities.

Statistics seem to point to the influence of drug or alcohol being the common factor among most domestic abuse cases. Experts are quick to remind us that while it is a factor, it is by far not the only factor. Curing a substance abuse problem does not cure the violent tendencies of those involved. The majority of offenders were victims of abuse or witnessed abuse in their own childhood, making them predisposed to the behaviour in which drugs or alcohol may play a part in awakening the tendency within. By the same token, many victims who are found to have a drug addiction, do so as a coping mechanism to the abuse. This creates a vicious cycle of repeated physical and substance abuse, sometimes generation after generation. It is important to realize that the effects of abuse on a victim may not appear right away, and they may suffer in silence, self-medicating and staying in dangerous relationships. 

The most prevalent domestic violence is within your own family. Family violence is any kind of emotional, sexual or physical abuse of family members by another family member. 

If you feel that you have been abused in any form, you may want to consider doing the following things.

Call 911 if there is violence.

Talk to someone you trust.

Make a safety plan. Plan where you would go in an emergency.

Protect yourself and others.

These are tough situations, and no one said they would be easy, but your life is worth it.   


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