When Relationship Abuse and Substance Abuse Overlap
A dangerous combination
Substance abuse and abusive relationships can often go hand-in-hand, and the effects can be similar. Just as substance abuse can lower self-esteem, confidence, and willpower, so too can relationship abuse. But substance abuse and relationship abuse have a deeper link. Each may contribute to causing the other, a process which can quickly spiral out of control.
The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness notes that typical relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive or coercive behaviors used by the abuser to achieve and maintain control over their former or current intimate partner. As long as the abused partner remains in the relationship, abuse can continue to deepen and escalate from verbal threats to actual physical violence.
When someone experiences abuse, they can lose self-esteem and look for ways to escape. However, that escape isn’t always achieved by leaving the relationship. The reasons to remain in an abusive relationship can be compelling: shared children, financial reliance, and even the hope that things can still change for the better all can make it difficult to leave.
Self-Medicating to Escape the Reality of Relationship Abuse
The pressure of an abusive relationship can be overwhelming. The situation can escalate to the point that you exhaustedly look for some escape, without physically leaving the relationship. This can lead many in abusive relationships to self-medicate with addictive drugs or with alcohol.
In the short term, it can feel like the strategy is working. Perhaps the pain and stress do become more bearable, and you begin to think things are turning around. However, as the effects of the substances fade, the temptation to self-medicate begins to rise to greater and greater levels. The negative effects of substance abuse mirror those experienced by women suffering from relationship abuse, which means the low points when you’re off drugs and alcohol are even lower. Of course, the transition from occasional self-medication to full-blown addiction is often surprisingly short.
When relationship abuse and substance abuse are experienced simultaneously, it can be overwhelming. But, both types of abuse can be overcome. When you are ready to end the spiral of abuse, a comprehensive rehabilitation program can help not only your recovery from addiction, but your ability to manage your relationships as well.
Focus on a Holistic Approach to Recovery
People who suffer from one abuse, let alone multiple abuses, often experience physical and psychological effects. Addiction is a disease, one which causes chemical imbalances in the brain. Once the cycle of abuse begins, the brain’s chemistry and neural pathways physically begin to change and adapt to the substances. When you choose a treatment facility that approaches recovery through well-validated medical treatment as well as methods targeting your mind, body, and spirit, you will gain a diverse toolset to overcome adversity in the future.
Using a combination of neuroscience, the core elements of a 12-step program, and holistic practices like meditation, yoga, and a healthy diet, you can learn to appreciate the warmth and compassion of a positive environment. Not only this, but the right treatment facility will help you create a personalized a recovery and relapse prevention program that involves strengthening your support system and relying on loved ones and other pillars of support to help you give yourself the care you deserve.