Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence
Every 15 seconds a woman is battered in the United States by her husband, boyfriend, or live-in-partner. Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 to 44, more common than automobile accidents, muggings and rapes combined according to findings by the former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.
Other research has found that half of all women will experience some form of violence from their partners during marriage, and that one-third are battered repeatedly every year. Although official estimates of domestic violence rely largely on FBI, police and emergency reports, many women also report domestic violence to friends, relatives, churches, synagogues, physicians and nurses.
These sources of information are not included in national crime surveys. In addition, most reports do not show the number of violent incidents experienced by battered women and their children.
Violent men are more likely to abuse drugs than nonviolent men. Estimates of drug abuse by violent men ranges from 52 to 85%-- rates three times those of nonviolent men according to the statistics by SAMSHA. The victim, as well as the abuser, may be using at the time of an incident.
One effect of battering is higher rates of drug use among victims seeking to cope with depression, fear, and stress. Studies of domestic violence criminal cases find incidents involving drugs are more, not less, likely to be prosecuted than cases that do not involve alcohol or drug use.
Abuse of drugs, whether illegal or prescribed is linked to violence in very complex ways: Chronic drug use creates stress in the family dynamics and heavy drug use can alter control of behavior in the addict.
Research on the links between alcohol abuse and violence finds that:
• Drinking proceeds acts of family violence in 25 to 50% of all cases of domestic violence.
• Substance abusers are violent more frequently and inflict more serious injuries. They are more likely to attack partners sexually, and are more likely to be violent outside the home than non-substance abusers.
• Drug abuse increases the likelihood of domestic violence; not only during periods of intoxication, but also during periods of sobriety.
• Highest rates of abuse are found in moderate to heavy drug users or addict (not heaviest drinkers). Chronic use of drugs is a better predicator of battering than acute drug intoxication on a social level.
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