Substance addiction can be particularly difficult for a woman who has a partner or a loved one also suffering from substance abuse. Why? Because for many women, violence and substance abuse are linked.
The Link Between Substance Addiction and Partner Violence
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, partner violence is linked to substance abuse in very complex ways. In a chicken and egg situation, substance abuse can create stress in the family unit leading to behavioral health concerns like depression, anxiety or even codependency. Substance addiction also affects behavior, where people feel like they are not in control. Violence can also create these same concerns, from stress on the partnership to depression, anxiety and even substance abuse itself.
Partner violence is more common than most people think. An estimated 1.3 to 5.3 million women a year experience partner violence. (The range is so great because such violence often goes unreported). Unfortunately, alcohol precedes acts of partner violence in up to 50% of cases and the victims in cases that involve substance abuse are often more seriously injured and are victims of sexual abuse as well. Women with partners who suffer from substance addiction are at risk not only while their partner is under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but also when their partner is sober.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are at risk for partner violence:
- Has your partner forced or harmed you sexually?
- Has your partner harmed your family, friends or pets?
- Are you or your partner suffering from substance addiction?
- Does your partner control your activities, money or children?
- Has your partner taken you or your children hostage to get what he or she wants?
- Are you afraid of what your partner might say, do, or think?
(Source: National Association of Social Workers)
In the long run, victims of partner violence are at increased risk for a number of health issues, ranging from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases to mental health concerns like anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, or depression. These serious health issues lead the Department of Health and Human Services to review their recommendations for violence screening.
New Screening Recommendations for Partner Violence
How can women be screened against partner violence? Like determining the breadth of substance addiction, a few simple questions about habits and home life can tip a healthcare provider off to increased risk. Studies have shown that intervention, ranging from counseling to community anti-violence services, can reduce the physical and mental harm for victims of partner violence.
Partner violence occurs in all kinds of relationships, even those without a partner suffering from substance addiction. Substance addiction is never an excuse for disrespectful or violent behavior and it is not the victim’s responsibility to end the behavior. It is natural for the victim to feel anxiety, depression or stress as the result of the violent behavior.
If you or someone you love is suffering with substance addiction or associated violence, please call us today. We have a women’s program designed to treat the unique needs of women suffering from substance abuse and mental health disorders. Destination Hope is a full-service alcohol abuse, drug addiction and health treatment facility in Florida for men and women over the age of 18 who suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders.