Know More About Substance Abuse And Domestic Violence

By Stacey Henry
Substance Abuse

Domestic violence is the number one cause of injury in women ages 15 to 44. Domestic violence injuries are even more common than rapes, muggings, and car accidents combined. Domestic violence is not always perpetrated by men with female victims, but men are predominantly the perpetrators, and heterosexual couples experience more domestic violence than homosexual couples. While women may be just as likely as men to abuse their partners physically, the difference is in the degree of the assault and resulting injury. A man’s blow to a woman’s body is likely to cause more harm.

Alcohol prevalence in domestic disputes :
Drug and alcohol abuse is a factor in most domestic dispute cases, with alcohol being involved in nearly 50% of all cases. Alcoholics, even when sober, are more likely to abuse their partners. But it is not always the perpetrator who abuses substances. Often, both parties are substance abusers, and sometimes only the victim is a substance abuser. Abusers may claim that they used violence to handle the substance-abusing victim. When a victim is abusing substances instead of or in addition to their partner, the situation becomes all the more dangerous. For example:

Prescription drug use and domestic violence :
Prescription drugs, notable antidepressants, are often involved in cases of domestic violence. Lawyers have even coined the term “Prozac defense” to describe a tactic used to blame prescription drugs for a defendant’s violent behavior. Some of the most popular and commonly prescribed antidepressants, Paxil, Celexa, Prozac, and Lexapro, are known to cause violent behavior in some people. Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are anti-anxiety drugs, and are also known to cause a violent outburst. Benzodiazepine drugs include Klonopin, Ativan, and Xanax. Chantix, a drug prescribed to help people quit smoking, is another drug known to cause violent behavior. Any of these drugs, especially when combined with other substances, can lead to domestic violence and exacerbate the resulting injuries.

A link between substance abuse and domestic violence :
The proven relation between substance abuse and domestic violence strongly suggests that there is a cause-and-effect relationship, but experts still haven’t determined a direct link. Many factors make it a difficult claim. For example, research shows that although alcoholics are often abusers, the heaviest drinkers are not. It is also notable that the majority of alcoholics are not domestic abusers. It is fair to say that although substance abuse is often a factor in domestic violence, it is not the only factor.

Another important factor is witnessing or experiencing domestic violence in childhood. Abusers often use addiction to drugs or alcohol as a way to explain their violent behavior and avoid responsibility (such as the “Prozac defense” mentioned above). Not all perpetrators of domestic violence use drugs or alcohol, and the most severe alcoholics are not abusive.

Mental health and domestic abuse :
Domestic violence victims are much more likely to struggle with various mental health disorders as a result of their abuse. The two most common among both men and women are substance abuse and eating disorders. Eating disorders help give back a sense of control over their lives and bodies, while substance abuse is often used as a way to numb the emotional and physical pain of the abuse.