As a result of the violence, the victims of domestic abuse are at a higher risk for suffering mental health problems.
Fifty-six percent of women who experience partner violence are diagnosed with a psychiatric condition; women in general are twice as likely as men to develop a mental health disorder. Victims of domestic abuse are more likely to use tobacco and marijuana, as well as engage in other compulsive behaviors, such as eating disorders.
Drugs and Violent Behavior
Compared to people who do not experience domestic violence, victims are 70 percent more likely to abuse alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, it is not only the perpetrator of the violence who is the substance-abusing partner; in many cases, both members of the relationship engage in alcohol or drug abuse. Sometimes, only the victim of the violence is a substance abuser perhaps driven to abusing drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with the physical, psychological, and emotional trauma of the violence.
The confluence of domestic violence and substance abuse creates a very dangerous situation for the victim in the relationship, for a couple of major reasons. A victim may not be able to fully assess the danger being posed and may be compelled to remain in a threatening situation because of the effects of drugs or alcohol. Victims may be unwilling to seek help or report the attacks for fear that the substance abuse will lead to arrests, shame, or accusations of unreliability.
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For example, studies show that in a number of cases, the victims of domestic violence are substance abusers themselves. While the substance abuse may be a direct result of being exposed to the violence, the situation could also dissuade victims from calling the police. For example, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service shows that in one study out of Memphis, Tennessee , 42 percent of 72 victims of domestic assault admitted to using drugs and alcohol on the day of their attack, with 15 percent alone using cocaine. Most of the 72 people had been assaulted by the same person repeatedly.
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As much as 92 percent of the assailants in the report were drug and alcohol users, and two-thirds of them consumed alcohol and cocaine together. Fifty percent of the assailants either used drugs, drank, or did both every day for the entire month before the study. Nine percent of them were receiving treatment or had received treatment in the past for their addiction. Among the victims, 33 percent were legally drunk when they died; almost 25 percent had drugs in their system at the time of their death. The greatest effect is often seen in the children of the relationship if there are any.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, children who grow up with drug-addicted parents have a greater likelihood of experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse all forms of domestic violence than children who grow up in stable homes. Those children who experience violence at the hands of a parent or guardian either firsthand, or by seeing or hearing a drug-using parent abuse another member of the family or a beloved pet have a high chance of developing their own alcohol and drug problems when they reach adulthood.
Drugs, Crime, and Violence: Exploring the Connections
Evidence further suggests that children who run away from violent homes also risk becoming substance abusers. The Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice writes that children who see parents or siblings being violent toward one another, or who are exposed to this violence firsthand, grow up with brains that form differently than children who grow up in households where there is no such violence.
Research published in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal and reported on in TIME magazine showed that teenagers who experienced domestic violence and other trauma during their childhood grew up with problems in specific areas of their brains — namely, the regions of the brain that connect emotions to thoughts and that regulate behavior.
As a result, the children grow up into teenagers, and then adults, who struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, and ultimately continue the cycle of alcohol and drug abuse as an expression of the risky and impulsive behavior that develops as a result of the brain abnormalities. One of the results of this is that as many as 20 percent of the child and teen arrestees in state juvenile justice systems were high or drunk when they committed their crimes.
Some were arrested for committing an offense related to drug or alcohol consumption or acquisition. According to the National Runaway Safeline, as many as 70 percent of teenagers left their home with no planning or preparation, usually because they had reached a point because the abuse to which they were subjected whether physical, emotional, or sexual had become unbearable, and leaving home was a preferable risk to staying.
The Journal of Drug Issues studied substance abuse among adolescents who were runaways, and researchers concluded that teenagers who suffered high levels of violence from their parents or guardians had a higher chance of being dependent on drugs and alcohol when they left home. The shock of being on their own, exposed to the elements without comfort or shelter, and still nursing the physical and psychological wounds of the violence they received played a role in compelling the substance abuse. The world that the teenagers enter is a dangerous one of rampant drug trafficking and human trafficking , where drug and alcohol consumption is a way of life.
In the past, street drugs like heroin or cocaine might have been the poison of choice, but in an era where prescription medication is a highly prized commodity on the black market, drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin are the new products. The potent painkillers numb physical pain and induce such strong states of tranquility and drowsiness that many people suffering stress or trauma lose themselves in the narcotic daze. Almost a quarter of the youths forced out of their homes in Los Angeles in abused prescription medication.
The researchers writing in the journal point out that there is far more to violent behavior than simply drugs and alcohol; there are widespread socioeconomic factors to consider such as the systemic violence of drug distribution networks, or the economic compulsive violence of using force to obtain drugs or the money to buy drugs , the setting and environment in which people obtain and use drugs, and the unique biological and psychological processes that drive every aspect of human behavior and interpersonal interactions.
Laboratory and research studies suggest that alcohol has a causal role to play in violent behavior, but the degree of that role is significantly varied. The same applies to stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines. Some of the socioeconomic factors include crime. Similarly, the Bureau of Justice Statistics noted in that approximately 3 million violent crimes take place every year where the offenders were drinking at the time of the incident.
Other statistics show that half of all murders and assaults take place when the perpetrator or the victim or both was drinking. Alcohol also tends to be a factor in violence when the attacker and the victim are acquainted with one another.
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As much as 66 percent of victims who were assaulted by an intimate partner a term that includes a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend told police and emergency services that alcohol was consumed before or during the attack. By contrast, only 31 percent of violent attacks involving alcohol were carried out by strangers. We provide operational support, analysis and training to help national police to tackle widescale drug trafficking.
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