Substance addiction and domestic violence are closely related. The lines of causality go both ways. A history of abuse in the family may precondition people to use and abuse substances. Similarly, addiction may increase the likelihood of violent behaviors in the home. Often, these two maladaptive behaviors form a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
Violence or Addiction: Which Happened First?
The term “domestic violence” covers a broad spectrum of physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse among family members. It may happen between spouses or partners, parents and children, or the elderly and their caretakers. Violence, abuse, and control may contribute to physical injuries, emotional trauma, and mental health problems.
Within a family system, history matters. Past abuse and violence may leave a lasting impact, especially on children, though it has severe effects for those of all ages. The adverse mental health effects may increase their risk of substance use as a means of self-medication. Domestic violence is a crucial category of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Even when substance addiction was not part of the childhood experience, ACEs put children in a high-risk category for addiction later on in life.
Survivors of domestic violence may experience mental distress or PTSD. They also tend to be emotionally withdrawn and struggle to build trusting relationships later in life. Some tend to use alcohol or drugs to cope with the pain, whether emotional or physical. Detox is the first step toward recovery, but it does not stop there.
Conversely, substance abuse can increase the likelihood of violence and abusive behaviors. Those under the influence may be set off by the smallest things and fly into emotional outbursts. As a result, they may say or do extremely harmful things to others in their home. This is especially true regarding intimate partner relationships and parent-child dynamics.
Addiction changes the brain so much that people may become negligent or abusive. Substance use has compromised their brain, causing them to act without thought or care.
Because violence and substance abuse are both predictors of each other, it’s a chicken-and-egg situation. It’s hard to say which one comes first, mainly because it varies by situation.
How Can You Break This Vicious Cycle?
The co-occurrence of domestic violence and substance addiction is possibly the most ignored “dual diagnosis.” Children in homes with both addiction and domestic violence may become doubly vulnerable to both conditions later in life. These situations can precipitate intergenerational trauma that is even harder to heal.
With other co-occurring conditions, people may go for dual diagnosis treatment. Supporting recovering individuals who still face domestic violence can be especially challenging. There often needs to be legal intervention to stop domestic violence from continuing. Meanwhile, the entire family should go through counseling. People facing these two conditions require a higher level of care and specifically trauma-informed care.
Healing From the Trauma of Domestic Violence in Recovery
Recovering individuals who have lived through domestic violence earlier in life need to be aware that the impact can be life-long. The first step toward healing may be to get a PTSD diagnosis. Mental health experts can help these individuals work through their family history to identify some root causes for their present conditions.
Those with a family history of domestic violence need trauma-informed care. This requires treatment at a facility where all staff understands trauma and its lingering effects. They must design a personalized treatment plan to address past and ongoing trauma.
Benefits of Trauma-Informed Care
Health professionals typically use a trauma-informed approach to incorporate three guiding principles. First, they promote an understanding of traumatic symptoms from a strength-based perspective. Secondly, they work hard to minimize the risk of re-traumatizing or retriggering the individual. Third, they prevent the symptoms of past trauma from affecting the individual past that point.
With trauma-informed care, clients receive the benefits of a trained medical staff with an advanced understanding of neurological patterns among recovering individuals. Within the trauma-informed toolkit, many resources teach coping skills and stress management. Health professionals may recommend medications or other helpful services.
Why Is Trauma-Informed Care Necessary?
For recovering individuals whose addiction is related to domestic violence, receiving care from a trauma-informed perspective is crucial. Because trauma affects everyone profoundly but differently, a trauma-informed approach must be tailored to the needs of each recovering individual. This means that the person’s choice and safety are top priorities.
Trauma-informed care also requires being centered around the healing of the whole person. For example, it must address the impact of verbal abuse, which often leads to negative self-talk. Language that gives people respect and agency is essential because it facilitates healing rather than perpetuating trauma.
Domestic violence and substance addiction can be causes and effects of each other. To some people with both experiences, the cycle may seem impossible to break. The dual conditions can also precondition children to the same fates later in life. With professional intervention and treatment, breaking this cycle is not impossible. A trauma-informed approach is the best route to full recovery.
Substance addiction, whether alcohol or drugs, may contribute to domestic violence. Domestic violence can also precondition survivors to use drugs or alcohol. Understanding this connection can compel people to seek professional treatment. To prevent relapse, formal interventions are necessary. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our experienced mental health specialists and addiction recovery experts have helped many people overcome this vicious cycle. We offer treatment plans such as detox, medication, 12-Step groups, and relationship skills coaching. Our aftercare programs help you maintain progress and get you plugged in with a community of helpful peers. It is time to schedule an appointment with us at Laguna Shores Recovery. We can help your family. Call us today at (866) 774-1532.
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