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Domestic Violence and Opioid Addiction

Domestic Violence and Opioid Addiction

Domestic violence, now more officially referred to as intimate partner violence, is a harrowing experience closely interlinked with substance use disorder and mental health. As the opioid crisis continues to ravage small towns and big cities across the nation alongside a worldwide pandemic, more and more people are falling victim to violence in their homes. Some people are victims of abuse at the hands of their partners who misuse opioids or other substances, while others may be turning to drugs to cope with the violence they're exposed to, and quite often, both of these scenarios occur concurrently.

Drugs, Abuse, and Trauma

Intimate partner violence, substance use disorder, and mental health often have interactions across all demographics in the US. Untreated mental illness is closely linked with substance misuse, and both of those are more likely to occur in the presence of violence in the home. Survivors of abuse often deal with lasting trauma and mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicidal ideation. Some turn to substance misuse to dull the pain or discomfort of ongoing symptoms or episodes when left untreated.

On the flipside, abusers also tend to have issues with substance misuse and addiction, often becoming most violent while under the influence, although remain abusive in other ways even when not intoxicated. It's important to note that intimate partner violence includes a spectrum of abuse that isn't always physical and includes emotional, psychological, sexual, financial, spiritual, verbal, and social abuse. Some data suggests that nearly 80% of domestic violence crimes are related to drug use.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Statistics

Based on an NDVH survey and two studies, substance misuse, mental health, and domestic violence-related to each other in the following ways:

  • 26% reported using alcohol or other drugs to reduce the pain of their partner or ex-partner's abuse.

  • 15.2% reported that they had tried to get help for their use of alcohol or other drugs in the last few years. Of those individuals, 60.1% said that a partner or ex-partner had tried to prevent or discourage them from getting that help.

  • 37.5% said a partner or ex-partner had threatened to report their alcohol or drug use to someone in authority to keep them from getting something they wanted or needed (e.g., custody of their children, a job, benefits, or protective order).

  • 73.8% said a partner or ex-partner had deliberately done things to make them feel like they were going crazy or losing their mind.

  • 53.5% said that they had gone to see someone in the last few years, such as a counselor, social worker, therapist, or doctor to get help with feeling upset or depressed. Of those, 49.8% said that a partner or ex‐partner tried to prevent or discourage them from getting that help or taking medication they were prescribed for their feelings.

  • Over 50% of those who sought help for mental health and 60% of those who sought substance use programs said their abusers tried to interfere with treatment.

Ending the Cycle of Abuse

There's a cyclical pattern of human behavior regarding addiction, violence, and mental illness that stems from resonating trauma and learned repeated behaviors. Those with substance use disorder are more likely to have experienced abuse or neglect as children, and while they don't always pass these behaviors onto their own children, they're still at an increased risk. Recovery Services of New Mexico provides confidential, effective addiction treatment for those who feel they're stuck in the revolving doors of drug use and intimate partner violence. Our specialized and compassionate staff are ready to provide patients with the referrals they need to improve their health and live a life free of drugs and abuse. Call or message us today for more information.


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