Pomona Community CC

When Substance Abuse Leads To Violence

Alcohol and drugs are mind changing substances. They cause changes in the way the taker’s mind functions and bring about personality deviations. We have all heard about how the sunny child becomes some sort of demon once they became a long-term user.

The potential for angry, irrational and even violent behavior increases in some individuals the longer they use. What form the violence takes changes between the people concerned, the substances and the crimes. But it is possible to identify and categorize the potentials.

One key point is the presence of drugs is likely to exacerbate a tendency which already exists. If people already have a violent tendency, they are more likely to act on it when under the influence of drink or drugs.


Domestic abuse against women is 2-4 times more common in men with an alcohol disorder. The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence releases a report two years ago pointing out 80% of men who killed their intimate partner were problem drinkers in the 12 months leading to the partner’s death.

Is there anything the victims can do?

This is a dangerous question as it suggests a victim in this situation has the ability to fix it, sometimes victims are sufficiently traumatized or bullied they simply can’t risk seeking help. But assuming that there is space to act, there are things which can push the situation towards a resolution.

Stop rescuing the person when they are in trouble

Sometimes a person has to face the serious consequences of their actions. While acknowledging this might be choosing the best of the bad choices, sometimes the perpetrator needs to have the full implications of their actions made plain.

Talking when the person is sober

It might be possible to have a serious discussion with someone when they are sober. But it depends on the surrounding circumstances. Discussing violence with someone on a power trip when they are sober is not going to help much. Nor is the person they are dominating likely to be able to do it.

The problem may be too far developed for conversation: this might work but approach with care.

Get professional help

While this also takes great courage on the part of the victim, the best way to get out of the situation is to get help. When a victim calls a helpline the helpline will respond by believing them. This is a fundamental first step. The next question will be are you safe?

Be willing to help

This might be more helpful for the family of an abuser than the victim of the violence, but the road to health for an abuser is hard. Having loved ones who are prepared to walk with them might be the difference between success and failure.

Ultimately the route to wellness is to stop

People with an addiction problem aren’t cured, but they can learn to manage the problem. Hopefully, before it’s too late for the victims.