Exploring the Connection between Domestic Violence and Addiction

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Updated 02/02/2023

Domestic violence: It’s such a difficult topic, yet according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million women and men will experience domestic violence from an intimate partner every year. This does not include those who might experience violence from other relatives, nor does it include those who have experienced violence as children or in past relationships.

In their lifetime, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence. The trauma of emotional and physical abuse can have a profound impact on the lives of those who experience violence. What is the connection between domestic violence and drug and alcohol addiction?

Why Domestic Violence Is Linked to Addiction

According to The Citizen, domestic violence is classified as “any type of threat or actual violence toward a household member.” This does not need to be physical violence. It could involve emotional or mental abuse, financial abuse or other ways of creating a power dynamic that puts you in control of other people. There is no one type of person who commits domestic violence.

Those who perpetrate domestic violence often do so due to a need for control. This need for control may be under the surface when the person is not drinking or using drugs. However, when his or her inhibitions are down, the desire for power and anger about the lack of it comes to the surface. This can cause the person involved to become angry at a partner, child, parent or even a pet. Alcohol reduces impulse control and the ability to filter language.

The Impacts of Violence on Family Members

Children experience intimate partner violence, even if they are not the direct recipient of the anger. They often witness or hear assaults, and they see the physical and the emotional aftermath. They may try to intervene. Those who have grown up in an environment where IPV is normal may find themselves in a similar relationship as adults. These children can also grow up to have mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety as a result of this early trauma. Unfortunately, boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to grow up to abuse their own partners and children when they are adults.

The Emotional Element of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is not only physical. There is also an emotional impact of the violence itself, and there can be emotional dimensions to domestic abuse. For example, those who have experienced domestic violence could fear that their partner will hurt them again, and they can experience depression and anxiety related to this. They can attempt to control their behavior to avoid future violence, leading to feelings of restriction. They may struggle with substance misuse themselves as they try to manage their emotions related to the violence.

When you are seeking help for domestic violence, it is important to talk to a counselor about the violence that you may have initiated or experienced. That way, your treatment can focus on your whole lived experience, not only the experience of addiction but the potential sources of it.

Mental Health, Domestic Violence, and Addiction

Another component of addiction and violence is the mental health of those involved. Struggles with mental health can lead to violence and self-harm. On the other side, violent behavior from a family member can lead to mental health challenges such as depression.

According to Psych Central, women “with depression had nearly double the odds of subsequently experiencing intimate partner violence.” It is not certain why this is the case, but it could be that women with depression choose partners who are more prone to violence or they have a harder time leaving these partners.

In any case, mental health, violence and physical health are closely intertwined. If you find yourself struggling with your mental health alongside addiction, make sure that you look for a treatment center that can help you manage your dual diagnosis, so that you do not engage in domestic violence due to poor mental health. This will also help you choose relationships that are good for your long-term health.

Domestic Abuse: Finding Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Misuse

If you find yourself as the initiator or the recipient of drug or alcohol-fueled domestic violence, this adds another dimension to your treatment program. It is important to talk with your counselor about this so that you can receive support for mental health challenges and trauma. If you find that you have initiated domestic abuse, whether it is physical or emotional, you will also need to develop strategies for managing your own mental health, anger and frustration. Both counseling and supportive alternative therapies such as art therapy, recreation and meditation can help you find ways to calm your mind.

Domestic Violence Resources

If you are considering help for your addiction and you have a history of domestic violence, take a look at the many domestic violence resources that you can access. Most commonly, these programs offer emergency services.

However, they also offer counseling and some offer legal services, housing, and support for children. You can seek this support in tandem with a drug and alcohol treatment program as well. Recovery from addiction and from violence is possible, but you need to ask for help.

Are you looking for addiction treatment? At The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake, we are here to help you recover from drug and alcohol addiction. We can provide both medical and emotional support to help you move away from substance misuse and into a stronger, healthier future. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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