The relationship between addiction and domestic violence can form in multiple ways. One example of this is when alcoholics and drug addicts create an atmosphere of battery and abuse in their home. Another example is the relationship that exists between substance abuse and the trauma associated with experiencing domestic violence.
Addressing the Link between Addiction and Domestic Abuse
Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches has developed a Domestic Violence and Addiction program to help end the cycle of domestic violence in our patients’ lives by rehabilitating abusers and victims while treating their drug and/or alcohol problems.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is intentional physical, emotional or sexual harm inflicted on one member of a household by another. This can occur between partners, parents and children, or even siblings. Incidents of domestic violence can be either singular or ongoing, although two-thirds of all domestic violence cases consist of multiple incidents. The overwhelming majority of domestic partner abuse cases involve men abusing women. Domestic abuse is also unfortunately common among adults and elderly relatives.
Identifying the Correlation
Numerous studies have documented the rampant presence of alcohol and drugs in domestic violence incidents. According to the United States Justice Department, 61% of domestic abusers have substance abuse problems. Alcohol addiction is one of the leading risk-factors in abuse among domestic partners. 87% of domestic violence program directors agree that risk increases when alcohol or drugs are involved. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that two-thirds of all domestic violence incidents involve alcohol.
Children also commonly bear the brunt of an addicted loved one’s domestic abuse. Nearly 80% of all child abuse cases involve the presence of drugs and/or alcohol, to say nothing of the three million children that witness repetitive patterns of domestic violence in their homes each year. Many of these children absorb this behavior and carry it over into their adult lives, becoming abusers themselves. Domestic violence is a learned behavior that is very often passed down from parent to child.
Impact on Victims
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 25% of all women experience rape or physical assault of some kind throughout their lives. Many of these women go on to develop substance abuse issues due to their inability to properly cope with the trauma. Additionally, children who experience domestic abuse are at a much greater risk for latent drug or alcohol addiction.
It’s common for women in abusive relationships to feel trapped. They’re often physically intimidated by their abusive partner or have become too financially dependent on them to provide for themselves or their children. This often causes the victims to suffer in silence and develop problems with drugs or alcohol. In some of the most severe cases, the abuser serves as a supplier of drugs or alcohol to the victim, creating an even more intense attachment.
Treatment for simultaneous domestic violence and addiction incorporates a variety of specialty therapies along with medical detox and in-depth psychological counseling. The process starts with a thorough psycho-social assessment to familiarize our clinical staff with each patient’s history. Treatment will vary depending upon whether the patient is a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence.
Treatment for Victims
In addition to treating their immediate chemical dependency issues, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches works to empower our domestic abuse patients through a full scope of trauma-relief therapies, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), psychodrama therapy, group counseling and family of origin therapy.
Domestic violence victims often lack the confidence and independence to leave their abusive situation. The primary aim of our program is to help them to develop the strength and courage to live an independent life free of alcohol or drugs.
Treatment for Abusers
When discussing domestic violence, it’s important to point out that current abusers are usually past victims. For this reason, it’s critical that they receive treatment to help them cope with their past abuse before any real work can begin. Once they’re able to successfully and rationally confront their abusive past, usually through a series of trauma therapies, they are treated for their current anger issues as well as their substance abuse.
The initial patient assessment is crucial in gaining an honest and complete understanding of the abuser’s history. Very often, shame and embarrassment prevent patients from telling the full story about their abusive past. We provide a non-judgmental atmosphere and focus on leveraging a patient’s dysfunctional past to improve their future.
Providing a Pathway to Healthy Living
Patients will apply the coping tools they learned in treatment to sustain their recovery. Recovering abusers are taught anger-management techniques to help them avoid relapse, while victims learn ways to ease the fear and anxiety associated with their trauma.
Addiction and domestic abuse are linked in more ways than one. There is no cookie-cutter formula for helping patients overcome this issue. Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches strives to provide individualized treatment to our patients in an effort to help them heal and rebuild their lives. Our customized approach to treatment is ideal for both victims and abusers looking to rise above their past and move forward. Domestic violence doesn’t have to rule or define your life. Call Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today.