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The link between alcohol/drug addiction and domestic violence

September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, promoting new treatment options for those struggling with addiction and emphasizing the need for strong community support.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), a study found that physical domestic violence was 11 times more likely on days of heavy drinking or drug use. Domestic violence can appear in a variety of ways including physical, sexual, mental, emotional, financial, etc.

In supportive services for domestic violence victims, it is common knowledge that experts believe that domestic violence comes from a need to control others and have power over others.

Overall, there is no excuse for domestic violence and there is no one size fits all explanation as to why it occurs. However, when someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may lose inhibition control, which increases the risk for violence. This does not mean that all violent acts are contributed by drugs or alcohol, however there is a significant correlation between the two.

Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol may have difficulty thinking rationally and they are more likely to act out violently. According to the ASAM, substance use disorders occur in between 40% to 60% of incidents of intimate partner violence. Alcohol was found to be a factor in 30% to 40% of incidents involving a male abuser, and 27% to 34% of incidents involving a female abuser.

Furthermore, if the victim of a domestic violence assault is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, they may have difficulties accurately assessing the danger that they are in and, in some situations, can worsen the situation, as well.

According to Addiction Group, data shows that 45% of abusive partners, which have been convicted of the murder, were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident that resulted in the death of the victim. In these cases, the average blood alcohol concentration was three times the legal limit.

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) reports that women are more likely to do drugs with an intimate partner, whereas men are more likely to do drugs with other male friends. The NCDAS also reports that women participating in the drug trade is predominantly affected by socioeconomic vulnerability, economic difficulties, trafficking, violence, and intimate relationships. Meaning that women in abusive relationships are often forced to buy and sell illegal substances by their partner.

The Palm Beach Institute, also, states that victims of domestic violence often report being coerced to use drugs or alcohol by their abusive partner. Mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are commonly found among victims of domestic violence, as well as the overall psychological and physiological trauma.

These disorders can lead to victims misusing substances and/or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate or cope with the impact of their trauma and/or abuse. In these ways, domestic violence can be a direct or indirect cause of victims struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.

It is important to note that substance use disorders and domestic violence do not always occur together and one does not cause the other. Typically, both substance use disorders and domestic violence are the results of untreated and underlying issues. Addressing either substance use or domestic violence will be more complicated if the underlying issues are not also addressed.

Addiction Group emphasizes that without treatment, both addiction and domestic violence worsen over time, increasing the risk of either situation becoming fatal, and staying in a situation that involves both will likely lead to heightened violence.

Silent auction

WoMen’s Rural Advocacy Programs, Inc. is hosting its annual silent auction “Bids Against Abuse” Oct. 13-20. WRAP is seeking companies, groups, and/or individuals interested in sponsoring and creating prize baskets to be auctioned during our online event.

Donation Deadline is Oct. 3. If you have any questions feel free to contact brooklyn@letswrap.com

— Becci ten Bensel is executive director for Women’s Rural Advocacy Programs

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