The need for a more comprehensive and holistic approach to treatment
Abuse of drugs and alcohol impairs judgment, makes it harder to exercise self-control, and often triggers or exacerbates emotional outbursts and violent behavior. That’s why it is so important – and has proven to be so effective – when the interrelated dynamics of Substance Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence are both addressed at the same time. These correlated issues are often intertwined in deep-seeded and complicated ways that need to be unwound in order to successfully resolve the serious problems that they create.
Research indicates, for example, that half of all men who participate in domestic battering intervention programs also have a substance abuse problem. Similarly, half of the partnered men who enter a substance abuse treatment program have perpetrated domestic violence within the past year. Plus they are more than 10 times more likely to engage in violence directed at their partner on days that they have been drinking alcohol. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the level of fear felt by victims of Intimate Partner Violence quadruples when their partners are drinking.
Meanwhile, as many as half of all the women who receive victim services for Intimate Partner Violence are, themselves, substance abusers. Why is that? Sometimes substance abuse is used as self-medication against the constant stress, horrific fear, and emotional and physical pain inflicted on domestic violence victims. Intimate Partner Violence of Family Violence is never the fault of the victim. But on a related note, if they are impaired by alcohol or drugs they may become more vulnerable and less capable of protecting themselves. A violent partner may take advantage of that. Or a substance abuser may wind up in a place where substances are abused by others, and those environments increase the potential for danger and violence. When victims of violence develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a common result of that kind of experience, their reliance on substance abuse is even more commonplace. That’s also the case when these victims don’t feel like they have anyone that they can safely talk to about what is happening to them.
What’s the solution-oriented takeaway from these disturbing statistics? Counseling and therapy that deals with both substance abuse and domestic violence is a more well-rounded approach to addressing the needs of victims. This kind of inclusive approach also provides the best opportunity for perpetrators of violence to face their issues, admit responsibility, accept accountability, and take effective, transformational steps to positively change their behavior.
Professionals and facilities with the experience, knowledge, skills, and resources to help resolve both kinds of issues – Intimate Partner Violence as well as Substance Abuse – are equipped to provide realistic and sustainable solutions for the benefit of everyone involved