The disease of addiction takes many people to places they never thought they would go. Many addicts are caring, loving individuals who get caught up in behaviors that are out of character. Others find that substance abuse takes certain problems and makes them worse.
One thing that is for certain is that drug and alcohol use creates changes in the brain, and those changes affect behavior.
How Substance Abuse Impacts Relationships
Most people are aware that addiction takes a toll on relationships. It causes financial burdens, and substance abuse takes the person away from those they love, both literally and figuratively. People in the midst of addiction are not able to be emotionally available to anyone — including themselves.
In many situations, both parties in the relationship struggle with addiction. People tend to gravitate toward those that they can relate to and find acceptance through. Drugs and alcohol often provide a common ground. Sometimes, one person will have more issues with substance abuse than the other person, but both could be considered addicts.
In many of these relationships, domestic violence is common. Violence may be physical, sexual or verbal, or all three. Violence may also be mutual, with both parties becoming aggressive.
Why Is Domestic Violence So Common In Addict Relationships?
There are so many reasons for this. Learned behavior is a big factor. For so many, this is simply a continuation of a cycle of abuse in violence in the family. The violence would more than likely occur even if substance abuse wasn’t present. Poor coping skills is another factor. People prone to addiction are notorious for lacking the coping skills needed to manage their emotions and reactions.
The drugs themselves also play a part. Even a normally balanced, rational individual may end up becoming violent after repeated exposure to mind-altering substances. This is particularly the case with stimulant drugs like methamphetamines and cocaine. These drugs, coupled with a lack of sleep, cause agitation, paranoia and psychosis that can result in violent behavior.
Regardless of why it is that domestic violence is so prevalent in addicted couples, there is never any excuse for domestic violence under any circumstances.
The Other Side Of The Problem
There are other reasons that addiction and domestic violence are commonly linked. This is because people who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse are more likely to turn to substances as a means of coping with the pain, fear and anger that result from the abuse. Trauma and PTSD are common among abuse survivors, and so is addiction.
It’s easy to see how domestic violence and addiction are linked together. People who are victims of violence are more likely to abuse substances, and people who abuse substances are more likely to become violent.
Domestic Violence And Recovery
Anyone trying to recover from substance abuse knows that it’s challenging. There are often barriers to getting help and healing. Barriers include the addiction itself, which can cause overwhelming cravings and obsession. Other barriers may be lack of support, unaddressed mental health issues and unhealthy relationships.
When a woman tries to get recovery but is in an abusive relationship, her partner may actively oppose her recovery, or her feelings of attachment to her abuser may become a distraction, leading her back into using. It’s important that she focus on recovery 100%, and she may not be able to do that if she’s caught up in a violent, unhealthy relationship.
Continued violence in the relationship may cause relapse in a woman who is sober.
Getting Help For Addiction And Domestic Violence
If you are a woman who is struggling with addiction and is in a violent relationship, there are two cycles to be broken: The cycle of using and addiction, and the cycle of domestic violence. Unfortunately, the relationship may be as powerful as the addiction to substances. This is why it’s so important to get help for both issues because getting help for one but not the other will only result in relapse.
Wayside House Can Help Women Break The Cycle
Domestic violence has roots in fear, lack of self-esteem and self-worth and may be fueled by substance abuse, as well. It’s important to seek a treatment center that understands what you are going through. Wayside House is a women’s treatment center that not only helps you overcome addiction, but also helps to rebuild self-esteem and self-worth. A women’s program is best suited to meet the needs of the woman who is addicted. Through intensive therapy and treatment, women are able to gain the confidence they need to make healthy decisions for themselves and their family. Call 800-655-0817 to learn more about how our program can help you.