Substance abuse and Domestic Violence

There is a definite connection between domestic violence and substance abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men experience domestic violence from a partner at least once in their lifetime. In many of these cases, it’s common to see alcohol and drug abuse as the reason behind domestic violence. Addiction can completely change how a person thinks and behaves. 

As such, it comes as no surprise that there is a big connection between domestic violence and substance abuse. Unfortunately, it’s a stressful and dangerous situation that occurs far too often. If your partner or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, now is the time to get help. Over time, outbursts and drug abuse can escalate to domestic violence and other problems.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic ViolenceDomestic violence occurs when a person inflicts physical or emotional pain/abuse to their partner. It is also referred to as intimate partner violence and it continues to be a problem for millions of people around the globe. This type of violence differs from relationship to relationship and can come in many different forms. 

Domestic violence can include power imbalance, physical abuse, lack of respect, or lack of empathy. Sadly, over the years, domestic violence has become a major issue for millions of men and women. For women, in particular, domestic violence is now one of the leading causes of injury in the United States. However, domestic violence can happen to both men and women, along with children, loved ones, and even animals in some cases. 

Domestic violence is characterized by a pattern of abusive behavior, typically with an intimate partner. This abuse is typically for control of power and authority in the relationship. When substance abuse and domestic violence are combined, things can escalate out of control quickly. In some instances, the person being abused may turn to substances and drugs. Suffering from domestic abuse skyrockets the person’s chance of using alcohol and drugs. 

Types of Domestic Violence

When someone thinks of domestic violence, they may immediately think of physical abuse. While this is, unfortunately, a common form of abuse, there are many other actions that are considered domestic violence. Domestic violence can come in many forms and can cause constant stress and emotional pain for the victim in the situation. Types of domestic violence include some of the following:

  • Social abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Spiritual abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Image-based abuse
  • Psychological abuse (verbal and mental abuse)
  • Financial abuse (withholding money or property)

Domestic violence involves several malicious and emotional behaviors toward a partner. Some of the behavioral examples of domestic violence or abuse include:

  • Physical violence
  • Threatening the person
  • Scaring or frightening the person
  • Constantly insulting and berating the victim
  • Controlling how a person dresses and looks
  • Stopping a person from seeing their family or friends
  • Forcing or pressuring the person to do things against their will
  • Controlling and authoritative behavior (telling the person what they can/cannot do)

The Relationship Between Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse

Violence and Substance AbuseAs time goes on, there continues to be a direct connection between domestic violence and substance abuse. The National Institute of Health Study found that nearly 61% of domestic violence offenders were abusing alcohol or drugs at the time. Additionally, 50% of spousal homicide cases involved some level of substance abuse on the day of the homicide. These numbers paint a shocking and dangerous correlation between substance abuse and domestic violence.

One of the reasons why this connection is so apparent is because of how alcohol and drugs affect the body. When someone is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs they have lowered exhibitions and weakened judgment. They may think and react more aggressively and carelessly. This mixed with a desire to be controlling and powerful in a relationship can create a dangerous and messy situation. 

At times, a person’s addiction can be so strong that they may go to any lengths to acquire more of it. Certain drugs have the power to rewire how a person experiences pleasure and reward. This can make someone act in ways they wouldn’t normally act. This influence can result in dangerous, violent, and irrational behavior in an intimate relationship. 

The Similarities between Substance abuse and Domestic Violence 

It doesn’t come as a surprise that there are several different similarities between domestic violence and substance abuse. The effects and overall nature of the two acts have similar consequences. This is what creates a dangerous connection between domestic violence and substance abuse. These shared characteristics include:

  • Loss of control 
  • Both involve shame and denial
  • Both situations tend to worsen as time goes on (addiction and abuse)
  • Continued abuse or drug use regardless of negative consequences

In instances where both the victim and abuser are abusing drugs, the victim may not understand the danger theirs in. When both people are under the influence of drugs, the victim will have a tough time being able to defend themselves or reaching out for help in general. Those suffering from domestic violence may be hesitant to ask for help. This is due to the fear that their abuser will fight back physically, emotionally, or even financially. If a person fails to get help, domestic violence (like substance abuse) can become a dangerous and potentially fatal situation. 

The Effects of Domestic Violence

Like substance abuse, there are several short-term and long-term effects that domestic violence can have on a person over time. A person may not recognize the red flags of domestic abuse if they are under the influence. Additionally, victims of domestic violence tend to fear repeated moments of violence along with their abuser. Over time, repeated domestic abuse can lead to negative mental and physical problems including:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Substance abuse and drug addiction
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Feelings of weakness or lowered self-esteem

As concerning as this list is, there are many other effects that can develop for certain people. Things can get so bad that eventually, the victim of domestic violence and substance abuse may have to attend inpatient addiction rehab for help.

A Closer look at Substance Abuse

There are many different signs and indicators of substance abuse. It’s important to be aware of the signs of substance abuse and domestic violence as well. In some cases, both the offender and the victim may be hiding possible substance abuse and violence. While many substances have their own list of symptoms and effects, several behavioral signs can indicate an addiction. Common signs of substance abuse and domestic violence may include:

  • Making excuses for wounds or drug use
  • Strange and spontaneous changes in behavior
  • Making excuses or justifying actions of their partner
  • Overall lack of money or constantly asking to borrow money
  • Absence and worsened performance at work, school, or social events

If you notice these signs, there may be a bigger issue happening behind the scenes. It’s important to seek professional help immediately if you notice these signs. It can be an extremely scary and complex situation to tackle but identifying the signs and acting promptly is a good start. Consider some of these behaviors and signs, no matter how subtle they may appear to be. 

Getting Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction

Types of Domestic ViolenceWith the complex and direct relationship between domestic violence and substance abuse, getting help is of the essence. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, it may be time to get help. Unfortunately, substance abuse can change a person’s behavior, inhibitions, and judgment. This can lead to dangerous and abusive situations. Getting help sooner than later can make a big difference for long-term recovery and sobriety. 

At the end of the day, rehab centers like North Jersey Recovery can help you and your loved ones get to a better future. Drug addiction treatment typically consists of detox, therapy, and medication at times. Depending on the severity of the addiction, a person may opt to stay at a rehab center (also known as inpatient treatment) during treatment; this is common in many addiction cases. 

Therapy is also used to help a person change their behavior while reaccessing their addiction. Oftentimes behavioral therapy like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) can help a person change their thought processes and behaviors about addiction. Learning the strategies and techniques to cope with life’s stresses and problems can go a long way in addiction treatment. No matter how bad the situation may seem, there is always an opportunity to turn things around. 

The Journey Starts at North Jersey Recovery Center

Over the years it has become clear that there is a connection between substance abuse and domestic violence. These situations can be very traumatizing and dangerous, especially if the victim is under substances as well. If you are concerned that a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and domestic violence it may be time to get help. North Jersey Recovery is ready to help you and your loved ones towards a life free of addiction. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Medical Reviewer

Laura comes to NJRC with 23 years of vast clinical experience in hospital, residential, outpatient, and community outreach settings where she has worked, supervised clinical teams, and volunteered. She has provided substance abuse and mental health counseling, clinical coordination, and advocacy to individuals, families and groups, and specializes in co-occurring disorders for both adults and adolescents.