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January 18, 2017

The Link Between Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse


Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Freestocks.org
by guest contributor Michelle Peterson

Domestic violence is not necessarily caused by substance abuse; however, research has shown that there is a strong link between the two. According to Addiction.org, regular alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of domestic violence. In fact, nearly two thirds of all domestic violence offenders also use and/or abuse substances like drugs or alcohol. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) cautions that the effects of these traumas may not surface right away (and victims often do not come forward) so this problem may be worse than we realize.

Although domestic violence is not directly caused by substance abuse, we can see that drug and/or alcohol usage remains the common denominator in many cases of domestic violence and abuse. Research has shown that most abusers were using drugs, alcohol or other substances at the time of the abuse. Even worse, the trauma of being abused often causes the victims to turn to drug and alcohol abuse as a means of dealing with their situation.

Think this is just limited to hard drugs like meth and cocaine? Think again. Some of the substances frequently involved in domestic violence cases include commonly-used prescription pills, many of which are known to unleash violent behaviors, according to Time Magazine.

Since we know that drug and alcohol abuse is directly linked to domestic violence - and vice versa - what can we do? Experts recommend that abusers and victims take advantage of the following:

  • Anger Management Classes
  • Drug Rehab and Substance Abuse Treatment
  • A 12 Step Program for Alcohol Abuse and/or Drug Addiction (Alcoholics Anonymous is one great option)
  • Nar-Anon, Al-Anon and other support groups and 12 Step healing programs for victims and families
  • Mental Illness Treatment
  • Trauma Therapy
  • Eating Disorder Treatments (eating disorders are commonly diagnosed among domestic violence victims)

In addition, abusers need a safe place to continue their recovery in order to break the cycle of abuse. Unfortunately, many abusers are unsuccessful with the methods listed above because they are surrounded with too much toxicity and temptation during their recovery process. In order to have a successful recovery process, people need:

  • A drug-free environment (this is one of the most important aspects to recovery)
  • Regular meals
  • Transportation to and from meetings and appointments
  • People to talk to who are supportive, nonviolent, and are not currently using or abusing drugs or alcohol
  • If these needs cannot be met in the offender’s household, the offender may need to consider inpatient care instead of the usual outpatient care

This is sobering data, but at the end of the day we still have the power to change these numbers for the better. There are several treatment options available for abusers and victims, regardless of whether or not drugs are involved in the cases. It’s also important to address any co-occurring disorders that may be leading to or resulting from substance abuse or domestic violence. With proper treatment, it is possible to effectively address these disorders, heal victims, reform abusers, and help take the first steps towards healing.

Michelle Peterson is a recovering addict, and she wishes to eliminate the stigma surrounding people who struggle with addiction.
 

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