Relationships Violence and Abuse The Combination of Domestic Abuse and Alcohol By Buddy T Buddy T Facebook Twitter Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Learn about our editorial process Updated on August 26, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Mixmike / Getty Images Statistics seem to indicate a connection between alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence, but some researchers question the cause-and-effect relationship. If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Studies of domestic violence frequently document high rates of alcohol and another drug (AOD) involvement, and AOD use is known to impair judgment, reduce inhibition, and increase aggression. Alcoholism and child abuse, including incest, seem also to be connected. High Rate of Alcohol Use On the surface, it seems hard to argue with the numbers reported in domestic violence research studies. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that two-thirds of victims of spousal violence report that the perpetrator had been drinking. In a global study of intimate partner violence, the odds were higher worldwide in relationships where one or both partners had problems with alcohol, compared to relationships where neither of them did. No Cause-and-Effect Relationship? But those who study the dynamics of domestic abuse say there is no real research to indicate that alcoholism and drug abuse causes domestic violence. Although research indicates that among men who drink heavily, there is a higher rate of assaults resulting in injury, the majority of men classified as high-level drinkers do not abuse their partners. Also, many of the physically abusive incidents occur in the absence of alcohol use. An Overlap in Social Problems According to the Women's Rural Advocacy Program, no evidence supports a cause-and-effect relationship between the two problems. The relatively high incidence of alcohol abuse among men who batter must be viewed as the overlap of two separate social problems, it claims. According to The Safety Zone, there is no evidence to suggest that alcohol use or dependence is linked to the other forms of coercive behaviors that are part of the pattern of domestic violence. "Economic control, sexual violence, and intimidation, for example, are often part of a batterer's ongoing pattern of abuse, with little or no identifiable connection to his use of or dependence on alcohol." Battering Is Learned Behavior Battering is a socially learned behavior, and is not the result of substance abuse or mental illness, advocacy groups claim. "Men who batter frequently use alcohol abuse as an excuse for their violence. They attempt to rid themselves of responsibility for the problem by blaming it on the effects of alcohol," they say. Alcohol does not and cannot make a man abuse a woman, but it is frequently used as an excuse. Many men drink and do not abuse anyone as a result. On the other hand, many men abuse women when they are sober. It can be easier for some men and for some women to believe that the violence would not have happened if a drink had not been taken. Denial and Minimization It's part of the denial process. Alcoholism and battering do share some similar characteristics. Both may be passed from generation to generation, both involve denial or minimization of the problem, both involve isolation of the family. So, why do batterers do it? How can you tell if you are at risk? If you are in an abusive relationship, what can you do? Common Triggers of Domestic Violence Attacks Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault. Institute of Alcohol Studies. Abramsky T, Watts CH, Garcia-Moreno C, et al. What Factors Are Associated With Recent Intimate Partner Violence? Findings From the WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence. BMC Public Health. 2011;11(1). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-109. Wilcox S. Alcohol, Drugs, and Crime. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. By Buddy T Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Relationships Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.