The news is filled with staggering statistics about the number of people who abuse drugs and alcohol. Overdose has become one of the #1 preventable killers in America, beating out even car accidents. A number we don’t hear about as often is the number of people affected by substance abuse and domestic violence. For every drug or alcohol addict out there, someone is likely to be experiencing abuse as a result.
Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence Go Hand-in-Hand
People who are on drugs and alcohol often act out of character. Similarly, character flaws like aggression and anger often come to the surface when an individual is under the influence. With that in mind, it is easy to see how quickly a drunk or high person can act out. This causes significant damage to the people they live with and their loved ones.
Alcohol is the biggest offender when it comes to violent crimes according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). More than any other illegal drug, it is closely associated with all of the following:
- Child Abuse
- Spousal Abuse
About 3 million violent crimes occur each year because of alcohol. That’s almost 10,000 violent crimes per day. That number is astonishing. As far as domestic violence goes, alcohol plays a role in about 55 percent of cases, and drugs only 9 percent. While both have an impact, it seems clear that alcohol is the biggest culprit.
When a Person is High or Drunk, You Don’t Know What You’re Going to Get
Living with someone who is emotionally or physically violent during substance abuse is awful. It causes feelings of frustration, confusion, lack of confidence, a sense of not belonging, and not knowing what to expect. Obviously, it also carries with it a huge sense of fear.
The same person who is a caring, compassionate sweetheart while sober can turn into an angry, malevolent person after indulging in their drug of choice. It’s no wonder that people reference the term “Jekyll and Hyde” when it comes to addiction.
For the victim of domestic violence, there is hardly any way to control the situation besides removing themselves from it. A person under the influence will be impossible and talk to and reason with. A simple conversation leads to yelling, and easily escalates to physical violence.
Domestic Violence Can Also Lead a Person to Addiction
A victim of domestic violence will find their self-esteem beginning to slip away. Feeling lost and without a sense of purpose easily leads to substance abuse because the person will feel that they have nowhere else to turn.
Above 90% of individuals in treatment for drug or alcohol abuse have some kind of history of violence, whether it is emotional or physical. This is why trauma therapy is so important in addiction treatment. More often than not, addiction comes about as a result of something, or a number of factors. Treatment is about figuring out what those causes are, how to approach them, and how to fix them in the future or prevent them from happening.
The NCADD conducted a study that showed that women assaulted by their significant others reported significantly higher substance abuse problems, mood disorders, and other health-related issues. Statistically, 33 percent of abused women claim to have a substance abuse problem. This number is comparatively much higher than the 16 percent of those who did not live with violence.
Children who are exposed to domestic violence are influenced well into their future. It can determine whether a child will develop its own substance abuse problem. One study in Massachusetts found that children who witnessed any kind of abuse in their household growing up were 50% more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence Feed Off Of Each Other
Living in a household where substance abuse and domestic violence occur habitually is painful for all within the dwelling. One tends to make the other worse, no matter which comes first. Eventually, it all becomes a blur of negative emotions, anger, fear, and potential danger. Habitual substance abuse and domestic violence touches all family members. One tends to make the other worse, no matter which comes first. Eventually, it all becomes a blur of negative emotions, anger, fear, and potential danger.
It goes without saying that anyone who is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol needs to get help for it as soon as possible. Whether they are using or drinking as a result of abuse, or find themselves acting abusively after getting high or drunk, the result is the same. Nothing will change as long as old behavior patterns are repeated, so it is necessary to make a drastic change in the right direction by seeking help.
As far as the person that is the victim of domestic violence, it is important to get out as soon as possible. Speak up and talk to love ones that you trust or a counselor about what is going on. People repeat their habits, and no one deserves unfair treatment. Once a person acts out violently, they will continue to do so with no end in sight. There is no need to tolerate that and stick around unless the person gets the help and counseling they need.