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Addiction tremendously changes behavior. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, you’re sure to have noticed major changes in daily life, from increased irritability and emotional reactiveness to risky decision-making.

Often, the side effects of substance use contribute to violence. In fact, aggression is often listed as a symptom of addiction and can occur whether or not an individual had aggressive tendencies before substance use began. There are many causes for this connection between addiction and domestic violence, which will be explored in this article.

First, we’ll look at the basics of what domestic violence is and the types of domestic violence that are most common and how to spot them.

If you or someone you know is facing a dangerous situation at home, reach out immediately to the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 800-799-7233 now.

Understanding domestic violence

According to the United States Department of Justice, domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship that is used to control, dominate the other partner. Essentially, domestic violence is any damaging behavior that occurs between family or household members.

There are numerous types of domestic violence, including physical, sexual, social, financial, psychological or violence through technology. Moreover, this systematic control, manipulation and coercion can occur between spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends and other family members. Most often, though, domestic violence refers to abuse between adults in an intimate partnership.

Domestic violence is sometimes called domestic abuse or intimate partner violence. Many people easily understand domestic violence to include assault and sexual aggression, but the range of behaviors that can be considered abusive is wide. Domestic violence could include isolating a person from his or her family.

Types of domestic violence

Domestic violence is perhaps best understood through specific examples of behaviors that commonly occur. Whether these patterns of abuse occur under the influence of drugs or alcohol or when sober, they are still considered to be acts of domestic violence.


Sexual abuse includes any sexual behavior without explicit consent, such as rape, physical attacks, forcing sex after violence or sexual manipulation or coercion. This can occur in marriages as well as unmarried couples.


Social abuse most often includes isolation or humiliation. An abuser uses social scenarios and threats to gain control over a relationship. For example, someone may only allow his wife to spend time with specific individuals for a short amount of time, or listen in on phone calls with friends.


Any abuse that has to do with limiting, restricting or controlling finances to limit a person’s independence can be considered abuse. A partner may prevent the other from working, keep tabs on any money spent or limit her ability to access money.


Psychological abuse is any behavior that causes fear, intimidation, threats of harm to the partner or others (including children), threats of destruction and mental manipulation.


Anything that controls through technology can be considered technological abuse. This can include using social media, emails, texts, phone calls and so forth.

Domestic violence enhancer

A term that often comes up in cases of domestic violence is “domestic violence enhancer.” This is a legal term that refers to any behavior that is designed to cause harm to a partner. There are many different domestic violence enhancers that fit into each category of types of domestic violence.

The connection between addiction and domestic violence

Addiction often contributes to all types of domestic violence, affecting both the person with the substance use disorder and the victim, who may also suffer from an addiction. There are numerous reasons why the two are intertwined.

Domestic violence has several root causes, one of them being a need for control and dominance. Although a person may be able to suppress or manage these tendencies in everyday life, consistent substance use decreases inhibitions, social awareness and self-control. Feelings of dominance may escalate and lead to or perpetuate violence.

Substance use is correlated with poor impulse control as well. Individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are less able to make logical decisions, assess risks, manage emotions and discern reality. Emotions such as anger or embarrassment are likewise heightened and self-awareness disintegrates.

Addiction and domestic violence are also connected because of the cycle of violence. A person who uses substances to deal with negative feelings may be influenced to act violently while under the influence of substances, thus ushering in further negative feelings like guilt, sadness, anger, frustration and so forth. These negative feelings lead to further drinking and further abuse.

The presence of substances in relationships with intimate partner violence could cause mutual harm. A person who is a victim of abuse of any sort is more likely to turn to substances to handle the pain. Sometimes, individuals are also manipulated by substances, being forced to drink or use drugs and consequently develop an addiction.

Finding freedom

If you’re in a relationship where both domestic violence and addiction are present, you may feel like there’s nowhere to turn, or you struggle with feelings of love for your partner. These relationships often come with complicated feelings, but your safety should be your first priority and you deserve to feel security and peace in your life.

To get help for an addiction for you or someone you love, reach out to Silvermist Recovery. Silvermist Recovery offers treatment for addiction and mental health with personalized programming, evidence-based interventions and supportive staff.