Trusted Content

Domestic Violence And Drug Addiction: A Deadly Combination

Joseph Sitarik, DO

Medically reviewed by

Joseph Sitarik, DO

March 19, 2019

Domestic violence and addiction often go hand in hand. Whether addiction has lead to domestic violence or the other way around, it is important to seek help and know that you are not alone in this.

Physical altercations tear through American families and blended households. Violence—a common cause for legal trouble—is at a high point in both urban and rural areas. The country’s victims of domestic violence are usually women and children. And with more families falling to divorce as a result of drug and alcohol addiction, it is no wonder that disputes are so often laced with physical and mental terror.

Drug and alcohol addiction can quickly perpetuate a cycle of violence within families. Just as one would treat mental illness coupled with addiction, domestic violence and addiction must be addressed with paralleled efforts, as treating just one issue will likely not solve the other, as well. Drug abuse may promote violent actions, but it is also wise to consider whether someone may have had the propensity for such action which came to fruition as a result of the drug use. Treating co-occurring behaviors is essential to the success of the drug or alcohol addicted individual, as well as the family.

Eras Of Familial Change

This nation, through many fluctuations in history, has seen dramatic shifts in the ways in which families interact. Through moral codes and ingrained ethical leanings, the family unit has commonly swayed toward patriarchal dominance. That dominance has taken turns in recent decades in regard to responsibility, obligatory financial contributions, and head-of-household demeanor.

There is one notable way, however, in which man-of-the-house natures slip past progressive attitudes and reemerge as their domineering predecessors. As many a police report shows, men who may never have displayed an aggressive stance, or those who are calm by nature, can still demonstrate violent behavior when drugs or alcohol are involved.

While domestic violence is more common in men, where drugs or alcohol is involved, similar behaviors are exhibited by women. In both genders, these behaviors extend not only to the abusive treatment of spouses.

In the tune of familial discourse and destruction of boundary lines, it is now an era of free-for-all in the home. When once men were permitted to abuse their wives and parents were at liberty to punish their children using physical repercussion, laws are stricter, yet violence remains and is utilized by many.

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Addiction In The Home

On the issue of addiction, today, with the myriad of drugs available and new ones emerging frequently, drug use in the home is at an all-time high. Use of drugs in front of children remains an issue that leads to early drug abuse in youth, and often addiction.

Concerning still, a common issue in the world of drug abuse and addiction leads to the connection that partners have with one another. We often see in this country that when one partner uses frequently, the other domestic partner either begins using for the first time, uses more heavily, or disputes the use, often leading to heated altercations.

Of course, addiction and drug use are not always an in-home issue. While drug abuse may actually occur outside of the home, the issues that are brought back into the family are what makes it a problem for every member of the family. Addiction, more often than not, creates emotional hardships and financial disparity that—considering the nature of the disease and the difficulty of overcoming it, bleeds into many facets of family life, which in turn, can make the disease worse.

With addiction becoming worse and family life at a breaking point, the risk becomes much higher for domestic violence to rear its head and even become commonplace.

Likely Drugs

Among the many addictive substances that tend to promote aggression, the following are most common:

  • Alcohol
  • Antidepressants (Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac)
  • Amphetamines (Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin)
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Cocaine
  • PCP
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)

Physical Tendencies While On Drugs

In conjunction with the above substances, physical altercations usually begin while on the drug, rather than during an in between moment. Being high and having skewed perceptions often results in a reaction that is disproportionate to a given situation. Those who are under the influence, whether violent by nature, or acting on impulse driven by the drug itself, lash out against the people who are around them. Being that family members and those who share a home are around each other most often, the odds are in favor of a violent conflict occurring within said home.

Even in families in which disputes do not normally become violent, drug abuse and addiction can change that. Many men and women who fall into substance use disorders will come to act in a way they may never have acted while sober. Just as someone whose never stolen in their life will resort to thievery in order to pay for drugs, so too will a person lash out aggressively when on edge from certain drugs.

The drug most frequently associated with domestic violence is alcohol. This is the case because of its widely accepted use, availability, of effects on the brain. The idea that inhibitions are lowered is, in fact, very real. When alcohol is involved and tempers are tested, families will find these altercations are among the most severe and dangerous.

In addition to common domestic violence—referring to physical assault—we must take into consideration the possibility of these altercations getting worse as addiction thrives on, with the possibility of fatalities coming into play. In terms of spousal manslaughter, drugs have been known to promote aggressive fatalities with the use of vehicles, weapons, and bare hands.

With this in mind, children must be thought of, as well. Mothers, especially in recent decades, often delve into physical assault of their children when drugs are involved. What makes this worse is the coupling of mental illness with drug abuse that is quite common among mothers who use. Children in these situations are many times unable to get themselves out of negative situations and are in need of help.

End the Cycle of Addiction; End the Abuse

More than ever before, domestic violence is being fueled by drug abuse and addiction. With families at risk and children stuck in dangerous positions, we must find the best ways to get help. Treatment for drug addiction is a first step toward the healing that your family needs. Beyond this, group support, counseling, and family therapy are imperative. Know that without treatment for your addiction and domestic quarrels, you could be facing years of negative experiences. However, with the proper care and knowledgeable substance abuse specialists, your family may be able to end the cycle of addiction and stop the abuse.

You and your family deserve better than the violence addiction brings forth. Contact and discover the treatment options and compassionate care that can help end the vicious cycle of addiction and domestic violence.  We are here to make sure you are able to receive whatever help you need while offering invaluable information to you and your family members.

If you do not feel safe in your own home or are experiencing an immediate threat to your safety, please call 911.

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