Substance Abuse And Domestic Violence: How To Get Help
People in codependent relationships may struggle with both substance abuse and domestic violence. In these cases, sobriety and safety are of utmost importance. Here’s how to get help.
For either victims or abusers, a lack of sobriety can increase the risk of further violence. Conversely, a lack of safety for the victim can also threaten sobriety for both persons. Getting help can be difficult because of the stigma of addiction and the fear of repercussions from the abusive partner. But, treatment is available to address both substance abuse and violence-related trauma.
How To Get Help For Domestic Violence
Safety is a primary concern. If you’re ever in any danger, call 9-1-1 immediately. If there isn’t any immediate danger, consider the following options:
- Medical care: If the abuse was or is serious, you may need medical attention. Go to a hospital, emergency room, or urgent care center if you’ve been injured.
- Call a helpline: The National Domestic Hotline (800-799-SAFE) provides help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and in multiple languages. They can also refer you to other resources, including local shelters. For LGBTQ persons, call the hotline at the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (212-714-1141).
- Make a safety plan: It’s unlikely domestic violence will get better without help. Think about a safe place to go and prepare what you’ll need to take with you. Calling for help can inform you on the best ways to plan.
- Get help in your local community: Reach out and find local supports and resources.
- Talk to someone: Find someone you trust and reach out to them. It could be a family member, close friend, co-worker, or spiritual leader.
- Look into a restraining order: This goes through the court system and is meant to keep you safe from the person harassing or abusing you. Find local law experts in your state to determine the best course of action.
- Support Groups: Look for local support groups to help talk about these issues with people going through similar experiences. Support groups are effective for both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, as well as those struggling with substance abuse.
If you’re a victim of domestic violence, know that you’re not alone. People are trained and motivated to help you, so reach out now.
How To Get Help For Both Substance Abuse And Domestic Violence
While substance abuse doesn’t cause domestic violence, and vice versa, they can influence one another. Safety and sobriety are the main goals, and each condition may require different treatment. However, because co-occurring disorders are common within the realm of substance abuse treatment, many rehab facilities offer an integrated approach to address both issues.
At a substance abuse rehab, treatment professionals can use therapeutic relationships to:
- help you plan and develop interventions
- identify domestic violence
- provide a continuity of care, treatment, and advocacy
- refer you to other specialists or counselors
People may often blame domestic violence on substance abuse. This is particularly true for men with alcohol abuse problems, who may justify their behavior because of their drinking. But, this is false. Substance abuse and domestic violence are separate issues that don’t cause one or the other, but may have a complicated relationship.
The Relationship Between Substance Abuse And Domestic Violence
The relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence is complex. Both substance abuse and domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence (IPV), have several causes and effects. A series of studies examined the co-occurrence of domestic violence and substance abuse, finding:
- Almost half of women receiving victim services for domestic violence struggle with substance abuse.
- Fifty-five to ninety-nine percent of women with substance abuse issues have been victimized in their lifetime.
- Half of men in abuser intervention programs also suffer from substance abuse problems; they’re eight times as likely to commit violence when they drink alcohol.
- Half of men in relationships who receive treatment for substance abuse have abused their partner in the past year; they’re eleven times as likely to commit violence when they drink.
- Sixty-seven to eighty percent of women receiving substance abuse treatment are victims of domestic violence.
Because of the correlation, both women and men in substance abuse treatment should be screened for trauma and any past or present issues of domestic abuse. Things may get worse if each issue isn’t addressed.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Get Help
Domestic violence can result in emotional and physical injuries. Other health problems may occur if you don’t seek help, including reproductive challenges, mental health conditions like depression or suicide, and worsening problems with substance abuse.
Substance abuse can result in various health issues that may affect the brain, liver, and heart, potentially leading to issues like cancer, HIV, and stroke. Depending on the substance of abuse, overdose is possible and may lead to death. Besides the health effects, substance abuse can also harm relationships, work performance, mental health, and overall quality of life.
Barriers To Treatment
Because of the severity and trauma of domestic violence, and the stigma related to substance abuse, people may be discouraged to seek treatment. Many women who experience domestic abuse went through other traumas in their lives, like childhood neglect, sexual abuse, and other forms of violence. Experiencing any form of oppression, violence, and discrimination can be traumatic on its own and limit access to services and support.
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Many victims of domestic violence turn to substances in an attempt to cope with the trauma of abuse. In some cases, an abusive partner may sabotage a victims call for help by disclosing their substance use to the authorities. This can prevent the survivor from finding appropriate safeties and supports, and can also complicate retaining custody of any children. Substance abuse coercion is becoming more common in abusive relationships and may deter seeking help.
Treatment For Substance Abuse And Domestic Violence
Treatment for substance abuse and domestic violence is best served by an integrated approach. Like other co-occurring disorders, treatment should include a collaboration among healthcare professionals to best address each condition. While trauma caused by domestic violence for victims may require different treatment than substance abuse, both conditions should be treated at the same time for the best chances of recovery.
Make sure the treatment center is capable of addressing both conditions. Substance abuse is usually treated with a combination of addiction medications and behavioral therapy. Some behavioral therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), may be effective for treating issues related to both substance abuse and domestic violence.
Although domestic violence is a major safety concern, there have been advancements for treating abusers and victims with co-occurring substance abuse issues. Research suggests substance abuse may perpetuate or facilitate violence, making treating addiction the primary concern.
Contact us today for more information on how to get help for substance abuse and domestic violence.Article Sources
American Society of Addiction Medicine - https://www.asam.org/resources/publications/magazine/read/article/2014/10/06/intimate-partner-violence-and-co-occurring-substance-abuse-addiction
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Office on Women’s Health - https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/domestic-violence/signs-domestic-violence
National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health - http://www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/IPV-SAB-Final202.29.1620NO20LOGO-1.pdf
National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women - https://vawnet.org/sites/default/files/materials/files/2016-09/AR_SubstanceRevised.pdf