Domestic violence and substance abuse are closely linked. But, just as domestic violence occurs across all ages, cultures, races, and socioeconomic classes, drug, and alcohol use disorders now fall into that pattern, as well.
Popular culture would have us believe that substance abuse is found only among the poor in inner cities. But for decades, researchers have known that substance abuse is spreading to middle-class suburbs as well. The relationship between social class and drug abuse is less about who is using and who isn’t about different drugs of choice.
In the 1980s and 1990s, cocaine was the drug of choice in the suburbs. However, in recent years, we’ve seen a rise in heroin use among the middle class, particularly white women. The prescription opioid epidemic is also heavily affecting middle-class users. Domestic violence and substance abuse are so closely tied that a rise in domestic violence among middle-class users might be expected to follow. But the evidence is hard to find. Either way, victims of drug abuse and domestic violence should reach out and get help from our professionals (385) 327-7418.
If you are experiencing the damaging effects of substance abuse and domestic violence, please reach out to our addiction professionals for advice and treatment resources.
From Opioids to Heroin
The fight against the nation’s opioid epidemic is causing an unexpected and deadly consequence. Opioid users are turning to heroin. Both prescription opioids and heroin work through the same mechanism in the brain. As with heroin, opioids reduce the understanding of pain by attaching to opioid receptors.
There is growing concern that the increase in heroin-related overdoses is an unintended result of blocking prescription opioids’ availability. Research shows that prescription opioid misuse is a risk factor for heroin use. The likelihood of trying heroin is 19 times higher among those who report prior non‑medical use of pain-relievers. Eighty percent of new heroin users start by abusing prescription opioids, making the latter a gateway drug for middle-class users who can obtain them legally from a doctor.
The transition from misusing prescription opioids to using heroin may be a natural progression of opioid use disorder. Interviews with individual heroin users support that notion. In the interviews, users suggest that market forces, including the accessibility, low cost, and high potency of heroin, are driving the move to heroin from prescription opioids.
It’s Getting Worse
Since 2007, the number of heroin users in the U.S. continues to rise. About 9480,000 Americans reported using heroin in 2016. The increase was most apparent in young adults aged 18–25. That age group drives the most significant increases in heroin use. The number of people trying heroin for the first time has increased.
Middle-Class Heroin Use
Heroin use is no longer an “urban problem.” Several suburban and rural areas near Chicago and St. Louis report increasing amounts of heroin.
It also turns out that current heroin users are more likely to be white and middle-class. The suburban and rural areas are the same population that reported the most massive increases in the non-medical use of opioids. Middle-class white women especially are using heroin-like never before.
30 to 40 years ago, heroin was as an inner-city problem. In 1979, the University of Michigan researcher Victoria Binion spoke with 170 heroin-addicted women in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Miami. She found that more than half of the women were black and that their drug use ties to family issues during their teen years. The typical female heroin addict was an unemployed high school dropout, struggling with money, on welfare, or turning to sex work.
Although newer heroin studies focus on middle-aged white women, there is another new group of users. Young white men tend to be at the highest risk of heroin addiction. Hero addiction can be fatal. Do not wait until it is too late. Call us today and our specialists can help you, or someone you care about, get the help that you deserve.
Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse
Numerous studies show that substance abuse does not cause domestic violence. However, drug abuse and domestic violence often co-occur. Also, addiction can mean that abuse is more violent and results in more severe injuries.
Substance abuse co-occurs in 40 to 60 percent of domestic violence incidents. Other evidence suggests that substance abuse plays a role in domestic violence by causing incidents or making them worse. Some studies also indicate that men with histories of domestic violence benefit from substance-abuse interventions.
We’ve learned that substance abuse doesn’t cause domestic violence, at least not directly. However, spousal abuse can predict whether the abuser will develop a substance abuse problem or addiction. Additionally, women in abusive relationships often report being forced into using alcohol and drugs by their partners. Thus, substance abuse and high-risk alcohol use are more prevalent among women who experience domestic violence than those who don’t.
The Unseen Victims
In a study for the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers analyzed the risk factors for women’s injury from domestic violence and drug abuse. The researchers admit that their work likely did not tell the whole story. “Risk factors for injury from domestic violence may differ greatly among women with higher socioeconomic status and women with injuries that do not require emergency medical care,” they write. “This uncertainty makes it difficult to generalize our findings.”
Psychotherapist Susan Weitzman is the author of “Not To People Like Us: Hidden Abuse In Upscale Marriages.” She says it is a myth that only underprivileged women suffer domestic violence. Weitzman realizes that this myth keeps upper-class domestic violence victims trapped in silence after treating many affluent women.
Weitzman’s book examines the many reasons why such violence goes unreported among wealthier women. It also looks at how abuse between middle and upper-middle-class couples compares to domestic violence in more impoverished communities.
Do not suffer as an unseen victim. We are here to help you. We want to help get you back on a track that will lead you to a happier and healthier life.
Keeping Up Appearances
On the surface, it does seem that domestic violence is more likely in low-income communities. But domestic violence experts say that the 11 percent figure masks the actual number of incidents among the middle classes, upper classes, and even the 1 percent. They point out that statistics primarily come from organizations such as domestic abuse shelters that care for low-income victims.
Weitzman writes that wealthier women often do not take advantage of such services. Because they have the money, they can stay in hotels or travel to places where they have family support. Also, surveys suggest that more affluent people are less likely to involve authorities in domestic violence disputes. They’re worried about police records hurting careers and status in the community.
If a woman is in a cycle of domestic violence and substance abuse, the most important thing is for her to get herself and any children out of the situation. Although you may love the addict, staying with them is dangerous because of the impaired judgment of addiction.
Addiction and violence are linked, so it isn’t easy to know what may be causing the power in the home. Does it happen while the person is drunk? When can a person not get a daily fix and begins to experience withdrawal? Some drugs, like meth, make addicts 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 can be victims of abuse, too, but they may have a more difficult time finding a safe house or shelter). Victims may also contact a crisis center or hotline that specializes in domestic abuse. Counselors can help victims find safety. They may also be able to offer advice about the abuser’s substance problem.
Safe houses, shelters, and crisis centers do not provide victims with legal protection. No one will report the abuser to police, and everything you tell the staff will generally remain confidential. However, victims of domestic violence and substance abuse do have recourse under the law.
Family members who suffer domestic violence can report it to local law enforcement. If children are involved, it might also be a good idea to get in touch with a child welfare agency.
Laws regarding domestic violence vary by city and state. Some violent incidents are classified as domestic abuse, while others classify it as assault.
When you are caught in a situation of drug abuse and domestic violence, getting out of harm’s way is the most important thing. If you want to remedy the situation and allow the relationships to heal, seek help for yourself and the addict. Even if you haven’t been abused but live with an addict, remember that drug addiction can often be a precursor to domestic violence. That’s why it’s so essential for you to reach out to trained addiction counselors.
Our professionals can provide the information you need and connect you to vital resources for treatment and safety, so call us today at the number below.
Find Help Now with
Better Help Addiction Care
Your road to addiction treatment recovery starts Here. 24/7 Treatment Monitoring.