Abusive Relationships During Addiction

In over half of the domestic violence cases reported, substance abuse was a key factor in facilitating, exaggerating, and enabling the violence to occur. 

Domestic violence and drugs: The perfect storm

After multiple studies, it has been noted that the consumption of large amounts of alcohol is almost always linked to an act of severe domestic violence. While it is unclear if the alcohol causes aggression, or if it makes an excuse for already violent behavior, the fact that substance abuse enables domestic violence is inarguable. It is the same for all other substances, though alcohol is most often a contributing factor in cases of domestic violence.

What is the link between substance abuse and domestic violence?

Using drugs and alcohol has an immediate and long-term effect on the risk/reward part of the brain. The consequence for not ingesting their substance of choice is a bigger risk than what may be the outcome for lashing out at their partner. The reward for scoring again is much more significant to an addict than the reward that comes from being in a healthy and loving relationship. An individual whose life is ruled by their addictions leads them to have priorities that are completely out of joint with what is best for their health. When a person has an addiction, it becomes their main priority. This means that they will push through anything that stands in their way of using, and do whatever is needed to get it again. On top of that, drugs and alcohol make people more irritable, unstable, and emotionally stunted. Meaning that they are unable to deal with their thoughts and emotions in a healthy way. If you try to stop your partner from using by, for example, throwing out all the alcohol at the house, your partner may lash out at you in a moment of rage. If your partner doesn’t have money to buy drugs, they may attack you for your wallet if you do not do so willingly. Especially when an individual begins to enter withdrawal, they are more likely to act out because the pain is so over-consuming they will be more out of control and impatient to score again, no matter what lengths they have to go to, to score.

Addiction and domestic violence have similar characteristics, such as: 

  • Be in denial 
  • Not taking accountability for actions
  • Blame others (never address the addictions’ role in the issue) 
  • Lose control or interest in daily routine
  • Engage in dangerous behavior despite consequences 
  • Do and say things that are irrational and/or out of character

Victims of domestic abuse are likely to develop an addiction 

In drug rehabilitation centers, it’s not uncommon for patients to be victims of domestic abuse. Being abused causes serious psychological damage, as often the abuser will gaslight the victim and make them feel like their experience isn’t real. This kind of manipulation can drive someone to substance abuse as a way to escape from any or all the emotional, psychological, and emotional pain caused by domestic abuse.

Treating Domestic Violence While Struggling With Addiction

You cannot address one issue without the other. However, until the substance abuse is under control, it’s unlikely that the abuse will stop because addiction is strongly linked to aggressive behaviour. Entering rehabilitation and going to therapy sessions that address the underlying cause for abusive behaviour is ultimately the most efficient way in breaking the cycle of abuse and overcoming addiction. The same goes for a victim of abuse who turned to the use of substances for coping. Until the individual seeks our rehabilitation and stops using, it will be extremely difficult to reverse the psychological effects of abuse and addiction.