The Correlation Between Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse

Published On: October 4, 2022|Categories: Abuse, Addiction, Awareness|

Domestic violence is the intentional physical, psychological, emotional or sexual abuse of a partner or family member upon another.

Substance use is the habit of using drugs, alcohol or both, until it leads to a psychological or physical dependence; substance abuse is when an individual continues to use these substances despite the harm that is inflicted upon themselves or how it affects others.

Domestic violence and substance abuse have long been connected, and often occur simultaneously; it’s not always the case, but one is often the symptom of the other.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the relationship between domestic violence and substance abuse.

How addiction can lead to abuse

Since substance abuse does not always lead to one developing violent tendencies, there are many debates around whether or not substance abuse does, in fact, beget domestic violence or if it amplifies a pre-existing condition or disorder.

Regardless, substance abuse is one of the primary domestic violence causes, and the link between domestic violence and substance abuse cannot be ignored.

The Addiction Center published the below startling drug abuse and domestic violence statistics that confirm the link between the two.

  • Nearly 80 percent of domestic violence crimes are related to the use of drugs.
  • Those who abuse substances are significantly more likely to commit acts of violence against an intimate partner or family member.
  • Nearly half of all men who assaulted their partners had been using a substance the day of.
  • Alcohol was involved in more than two-thirds of cases when men attempted to kill their partner.
  • Women who abuse cocaine or heroin are more likely to experience abuse in a relationship.
  • Those who experience domestic abuse are at a high risk of abusing drugs or alcohol.

The harmful effects of domestic violence are vast, wreaking destruction on each sufferer in different ways; one of these ways is the development of a substance use disorder.

How being abused can lead to addiction

Abuse of any kind (whether emotional, physical, psychological or sexual) and to any degree (whether it happens one time, inconsistently or frequently) is a trauma.

Domestic violence can impact someone in six different ways: 

  • Physically
  • Mentally
  • Emotionally
  • Spiritually
  • Financially
  • Socially

Physical: internal (brain) or external injuries, scars, chronic pain and sexual dysfunction.

Mental: the development of mental disorders, such as post-traumatic stress, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts or tendencies, anxiety, depression, and substance or behavioral addiction.

Emotional: low self-esteem, self-loathing or hatred, inability to trust oneself.

Spiritual: doubting or losing your faith.

Financial: loss of a job or earning potential due to inability to cope with the abuse, damaged credit, inability to receive financial aid or loans, and homelessness.

Social: detachment from family and friends due to (often forced) isolation, inability to trust future partners, damaged relationships with loved ones.

People are typically impacted in at least a couple of these ways after experiencing domestic violence, and that is what often leads them to developing a substance use disorder.

It’s their way of trying to cope with the trauma.

The warning signs

Signs of substance abuse and addiction include:

  • Negative physical changes (e.g., neglected basic hygiene)
  • Losing interest in things they once were interested in
  • Uncharacteristic mood swings or behavior (such as violence or isolation)
  • Lacking energy or exhibiting signs of depression
  • Avoiding social gatherings or interactions with family and friends

Remember that domestic violence is not always physical; your partner is abusing you if they keep you away from your family and friends, physically harm you in any way, sexually manipulate or abuse you, control your money or bully you (physically or psychologically).

When it’s someone you love being abused, the signs are not always obvious.

Some signs of domestic violence include:

  • Startling changes in personality or behavior
  • Unexplained injuries, and excuses that don’t make sense
  • Missing school, work or social events for nonsensical reasons
  • Clothing that doesn’t match the weather (e.g., wearing long sleeves in summer to cover bruises)
  • Always needing to check-in with and gain permission from their partner

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

Contact us when you need help

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, reach out to us here at Pyramid Healthcare, as substance abuse can be fatal when left untreated.

Here at Pyramid, our top priority is fostering strong behavioral health and overall wellbeing. We offer programs for both substance abuse and mental health that revolve around our commitment to providing you with expert-level care that helps you access the highest quality of life.

To learn more about our programs, call our admissions team today.

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