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When Addiction Gets Violent: Get Help And Get Out

How To Keep Yourself And Your Family Safe

Addiction can cause seemingly rational people to become irrational and violent. Although any type of addiction can trigger violence, those most likely to impair judgment, like drug and alcohol addictions, are most often linked to addiction-related violence.

Numerous studies have shown that substance abuse does not cause domestic violence. Substance abuse and domestic violence, however, often co-occur, and addiction can cause abuse to be more violent and result in more severe injuries to those who are abused. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that 61 percent of abusers have drug and/or alcohol addictions.

What Kinds Of Violent Problems Does Addiction Cause?

Addicts may become violent toward their own family members, hurting spouses or children. Addicts may also commit violent crimes as a result of intoxication or as a means of obtaining money to finance their habits. Violence is not limited to men in heterosexual relationships, either. Women may commit violence against their husbands, and violence occurs in gay and lesbian relationships as well.

What Can I Do If I Am The Victim Of Addiction-Related Violence?

Non-Legal Resources

One of the most important things a person experiencing violence from an addict can do is to remove themselves and any children from the situation. Although you may love the addict, staying in the relationship or in the home is dangerous because of the impaired judgment that characterizes addiction.

Because addiction and violence are linked, it is difficult to know what may cause violence in the home. Does it happen while the person is inebriated? Does violence occur when a person cannot get a daily fix and begins to experience withdrawal? Some drugs, like methamphetamines, lead addicts to become paranoid and violent. If you are not around the addict, the addict cannot physically hurt you.

Many towns have shelters and safe houses dedicated to serving women and children who are victims of abuse. Men who are abuse victims may have a more difficult time finding a safe house or shelter, however. Victims may also contact a crisis center or hotline that specializes in domestic abuse. Counselors who are affiliated with these services may also be able to speak to the victim about the abuser's substance use and addiction.

Legal Resources

Safe houses, shelters, and crisis centers are not legal resources; the person responsible for the abuse will not be reported, and all information exchanged will generally remain confidential. Importantly, however, victims of abuse do have legal avenues that they can take.

Family members who experience domestic violence (or who know someone who is) can report the violence to a local law enforcement or child welfare agency (if children are involved). Laws regarding domestic violence vary by municipality and state. Some violent episodes are classified as "domestic abuse" whereas others are classified as "assault."

When addiction becomes violent, it is important to remove yourself or your loved one from the situation. To truly remedy the situation and allow the relationships to heal, help should be sought for both the victims and the addict. Whether you have been the victim of violence at the hand of an addict or you have recognized how your own substance abuse brings about violent tendencies, the experts at the UCLA Dual Diagnosis Center may be able to help the addict turn his or her life around. Call today.