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Domestic Violence: Chemical Dependency

Drugs and Alcohol Don't Cause Abuse

Domestic violence and drug and alcohol addiction frequently occur together, but are two separate and distinct problems. One does not cause the other. Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behavior that is learned, and is not the result of alcohol or drug abuse. Not all alcoholics or drug addicts are abusers and most abusers are not addicted to drugs and alcohol. Abusers frequently blame alcohol and drug use for their violence so they don't have to take responsibility for their problem.

Drugs, Alcohol, and Domestic Violence Do not Mix

Victims of domestic violence experience worse injuries and are more likely to be killed when drugs and alcohol are involved. Drugs and alcohol interfere with your judgment and make you less prepared to keep you and your family safe.

Similarities and Differences Between Domestic Violence and Drug/ Alcohol Addiction

Domestic violence and drug and alcohol addiction have many similarities. Both problems hurt the whole family, get worse over time, have the potential to be deadly, and involve denying, minimizing and blaming others for the problem. However, the problems are different and need different types of treatment. Domestic violence is a pattern of assault and controlling behavior used to maintain control over another person. Addiction is a disease characterized by loss of control, poor judgment, and increasing tolerance.

Women, Addiction, and Domestic Violence

While most victims of domestic violence are not addicted to drugs and alcohol, some women use and abuse alcohol and drugs to cope with abusive relationships.

Reasons some women abuse drugs and alcohol:

  • Addicted to drugs and alcohol
  • Forced into it by abusive partner
  • Their doctors over-prescribe addictive medications
  • Societal oppression
  • Abusive partners interfere with victims' attempts to be sober

Help For Drugs and Alcohol Abuse

If you abuse alcohol and/or drugs, get help. Your life may depend on it. Call the 24-Hour Drug and Alcohol Help Line at 1-800-562-1240. You can also check out their website at

Email the Domestic Violence Victim Advocate.