The Connection Between Domestic Abuse and Addiction: How Toxic Relationships Lead to Addiction

Around 60% of people are willing to stay in unfulfilling and unsatisfying relationships. This willingness to stay in bad relationships results in abusive relationships forming.

Abuse isn’t always physical, although, that is what we think of. Other types include psychological, emotional, verbal, sexual or financial. Manipulation can hit several categories at once and is common in abusive situations.

What’s more alarming, most cases of domestic abuse involve drug use. A great deal of evidence exists to correlate abuse and addiction.

It is not currently understood which one might cause the other. But the two tend to coexist in a parasitic time bomb which will lead to the ultimate destruction of lives.

Drug Addiction

We have a rather troubling history with drug problems. At times, our societies have locked people away who needed help with addictions. At other times, we prescribe medications people don’t actually need.

This can result in a person being addicted to prescription medications such as Adderall. But, because they are wired from a stimulant they didn’t need, they cannot relax.

A sleeping pill may be prescribed or the user may turn to cannabidiols.

This does not underscore those who need medicines to function and take them in proper doses.

Fortunately, we understand drug addiction now much better than we did even 3 decades ago. We know what happens among chemicals in the brain.

A drug creates a pleasant, interesting or numbing sensation in the brain. Or it may alter the senses in some way. But it ends up producing hormones which our brain registers as pleasure.

Because of this pleasure, our brain seeks it out again. But, as we all know, we form tolerances to drugs as we develop addictions. Each time we use, it requires more for the same effects.

In the long run, this can cause an overdose. But there is more to this story.

People often receive high concentrations and pure forms of drugs. This can happen in hospitals.

You have major surgery and receive medical grade pain relievers. These contain the same substances as many drugs, but somehow don’t result in new addicts.

The untold side of drug use has to do with the rest of a person’s life. In particular, interpersonal relationships seem to be a major factor.

But more on this later. For now, let’s take a look at abusive relationships.

Domestic Violence

Healthy Relationships

This about a good friend giving you a hug, buying your groceries, listening to you or encouraging you. Do you feel kind of warm and fuzzy? You may, or you might think about how happy that would make you.

Why do you feel that way? You feel that way because you are comfortable with that person. You know they did something kind for you with zero strings attached.

This is what a healthy relationship feels like. You might cry at the gesture, whatever it could be, but you are genuinely grateful.

Stranger Danger

But let’s flip the script. Have you ever received that kind of affection from someone you weren’t comfortable around? A hug from someone you don’t know, leaves you feeling odd.

A letter of encouragement or a surprise visit from someone you don’t know can creep you out. Now, if you can combine these two feelings into one, you’ll have something else completely.

Dangerous Waters of Abuse

Ever had a friend who listened to your problems and gave you a hug and you felt better? But later, they reminded you of the time(s) they did something nice for you. In many cases, they do this to get you to do something for them.

All of a sudden, their kindness had a price tag. Some people do these kind things over and over and build up your dependence upon their kindness. Then, when they see you are an addict-hooked (like on a drug), they take it away.

This is an abusive relationship. The abuser will give tastes of kindness and generosity, but always at a cost. They give and take whenever and whatever they wish.

At the end of the day, an abused person ends up hooked on the abuser’s kindness. Most of the time they spend with them is miserable. But, those few and fleeting moments give such a rush of euphoria, the brain is hooked.

Abuse and Addiction

It should come as no surprise, then, that domestic violence and drug abuse come together. Addicts poison every relationship they are in with their drug use. This leads their drug use to be the one positive experience they get to have.

And therein lies the problem. Drug users, like all other people, need satisfaction and joy in their lives. If they don’t feel like they have anything to bring them pleasure, drug use tends to spiral out of control.

And since victims of abuse become addicted to their abusers, it creates a vicious cycle. Abuse victims can’t leave abusers because that is their total supply of happiness.

Instead, victims of abuse may turn to drugs. As stated above, almost all cases of domestic violence involve drugs somehow. This is, of course, a huge mistake.

The person becomes addicted not only to their abuser but also to drugs. Also as stated above, drug use poisons all the relationships an addict has. This further drives the victim of abuse into isolation.

Their drugs give them most of the pleasure they experience. And their abuser provides pain with occasional pleasure.

Thus, they spend their life high to avoid pain or in pain from their abuse. And they also have brief times of pleasure when their abuser gives them kindness.

Finding Healing

Abuse and addition both require therapy and outside help. There should be no surprise to find strong correlations of drug use with domestic abuse.

But, while both take work to overcome, they aren’t as impossible as they seem. People want to help you and are available to aid in overcoming any addiction.

If you want help or want to know how to help someone else, don’t stay quiet. Get in touch with us here, to see how we can help you.

References

Article Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.