Domestic Violence & Substance Use


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so we want to address this important issue in some of our blog posts. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence. Additionally, the American Society of Addiction Medicine reports “Substance abuse has been found to co-occur in 40-60% of IPV incidents across various studies.” While there is a link between domestic violence and substance use, there are a lot of misconceptions and confusion about what those links truly are.

A popular belief is that substance use plays a causal role in domestic violence, but studies have not quite supported that idea. However, substance use has been found to increase the severity of abuse and increase the likelihood of physical violence in situations where other abusive behavior is already present. Addictive substances, such as opioids, are sometimes used by abusers to manipulate their victims; either to subdue their partner, cause an addiction and then control access to the substance to keep the survivor coming back to the abuser, as well as to blackmail the survivor. The good news is that success has been shown in substance use focused treatment with abusive men in decreasing abusive behavior. 

The other intersection of substance use and domestic violence that is important to highlight is domestic violence as a risk factor to substance use. The American Society of Addiction Medicine explains, “Spousal abuse has been identified as a predictor of developing a substance abuse problem and/or addiction… Substance abuse and high-risk alcohol use/abuse are more prevalent among women who experience IPV compared to peers with no IPV experience.” The trauma from domestic violence can cause serious mental health effects, leading to substance use as a coping mechanism. Help for substance misuse, trauma, and other mental health conditions is available, and recovery is possible. If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship abuse, please see the chart below for helpful resources.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN)
Micha’s Place (Located in Fernandina Beach)
904-225-9979 Text or call
Hubbard House (Located in Jacksonville) (904) 354-3114 Texting Hotline: (904) 210-3698

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