Is There a Link Between Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse?

Substance use disorders can cause or exacerbate many problems, such as domestic violence (also known as interpersonal violence or IPV). The COVID-19 pandemic only makes things worse. 

According to one study of domestic violence in Memphis under COVID-19, while the number of reported cases of domestic violence is down, death and severe injury due to domestic violence is up. The apparent disparity is because people in a COVID-19 lockdown have fewer opportunities to escape–or destinations to escape to–and safely report domestic violence.

Domestic violence happens with or without COVID-19. A more significant comorbidity is a mental illness, especially substance use disorders: drinking to excess, using legal prescriptions other than as prescribed, and/or using illicit drugs. That makes domestic violence and substance abuse a case of co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), between 40% and 60% of domestic violence incidents also involve substance abuse. Women (85% of domestic violence recipients are women who experience domestic violence are 70% more likely to use drugs or alcohol. Of men who commit acts of domestic violence, 20% use drugs or alcohol. 

Domestic violence needn’t be physical violence. Emotional violence can be worse in some ways. Either one can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), akin to what a returning combat veteran experiences. This also can lead to substance abuse and addiction. 

In the long term, the best way of coping with addiction, plus other mental illnesses and domestic violence is dual diagnosis treatment in a substance abuse rehab. There, clients can learn cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) coping skills to train themselves to respond to stress and triggers healthily without using alcohol or opioids. 

CBT can also help domestic violence assailants learn not to use verbal or physical abuse (or drugs and alcohol to cope with their stress. 

Sources

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