It’s difficult to quote accurate statistics on family violence and addiction because it’s an issue that goes widely unreported. It is believed that most domestic violence is committed against women. However, while women also act out violently because of addiction, the men they’ve harmed often decline to report that they’ve been victimized.
But it’s a two-pronged problem: Many people commit violent acts because their social inhibitions are unleashed when they are high. And there are people who are victims of violent acts who then turn toward drugs or alcohol to medicate themselves or their symptoms after abuse.
We don’t know exactly how many times a person acts out violently while he is high either because he has lost control of his anger or because he needs money for drugs. We do know, however, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, that over 60 percent of domestic violence cases actually coming before a judge involve some kind of substance abuse.
Violence and Addiction: Which Role Do You Play?
If You’re the Abused Person: Whenever the abuser becomes violent, remove yourself from the situation at once. This is easier for women to do, because shelters are available throughout most communities for domestic violence situations. There is not as much help for men, however; but a place like the local Salvation Army can either provide temporary shelter or direct you to a place where there is shelter.
If You’re the Abuser: Besides hurting the ones you love, you are also at a higher risk for hurting yourself. Many people who lash out will feel overcome with remorse afterward and turn their anger on themselves. If you’re guilty of both family violence and substance abuse, you need to get into drug abuse treatment immediately. Your counselor will not turn you over to the police as long as you don’t present an immediate danger to yourself or others. You do need, however, to discuss your tendencies toward violence with your counselor so that you can help to resolve them. It’s scary to note that if you are in recovery and you relapse you are at a higher risk of suicide until you get back into treatment. That’s why it’s important to call your sponsor or the counselor at your methadone clinic right away and tell them what’s happening.
Remember that just stopping substance abuse is not a cure for domestic violence. They are two separate issues, and while they unfortunately often co-occur, they need to be dealt with separately.