Substance Use as a Risk for Interpersonal Violence
• October 2022 •
Executive Director’s Message: Substance Use as a Risk for Interpersonal Violence
As we learned during the now infamous Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial, substance use is often present in relationships where interpersonal violence (IPV) occurs. And in many such relationships, both the perpetrator and the victim drink and use drugs. Studies have found that:
- Between 25% and 50% of people who commit domestic violence have substance use problems
- Victims of domestic violence are likely to cope with distress by using substances
- About 1 in 3 men experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime
- Rates of domestic violence among LGBTQ+ couples are high at approximately 25%
- Like Johnny Depp, many victims of IPV were raised in families where violence and substance use occurred.
- 15% of children experience IPV, but those who live in poverty are five times more likely to be victims of abuse
IPV can occur in any type of relationship, between spouses or dating partners, between family members, and in both heterosexual and LGBTQ+ relationships. Teens also experience interpersonal violence. PV. In fact, one survey found that around 5 million men and 11 million women who experienced IPV said that it began during their teen years.
Certain substances in particular, including alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine, can cause short- and long-term effects, such as aggression, that lead to violence, and people who are under the influence have difficulty regulating their emotions. When faced with a trigger, substance users can react with violence to something that they might ordinarily be able to manage. Also, over time, substance use also causes changes to our brain that affect emotion regulation, specifically the amygdala – the part of our brain that manages anxiety and irritability.
Likewise, people who experience domestic violence often turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate negative emotional states, like anxiety and depression. Drugs and alcohol, unfortunately, provide a way to escape these feelings.
During Domestic Violence Awareness month this October, if you know someone who needs help with recovery and IPV, call L.A. CADA at (562) 906-2676.
Watch: The Link Between DV and Substance Use