Please note: Entries within this blog may contain references to instances of domestic abuse, dating abuse, sexual assault, abuse or harassment. At all times, Break the Cycle encourages readers to take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves emotionally and psychologically.  If you would like to speak with an advocate, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 866-331-9474  or text “loveis” to 22522.

The Link Between Drug Addiction and Dating Violence

Experiencing unhealthy or abusive relationship behaviors is already a very difficult situation, but alcohol and drugs can only make it worse. While there has been a general decline over the last two decades in the use of illicit drugs among teens, it’s still an issue, and it’s important to know how drug use intersects with dating violence.

How Dating Violence Can Lead to Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Several studies show a direct correlation between experiencing dating violence and an increased likelihood of alcohol and drug use. Teenage girls who experience dating violence are more likely to binge drink compared to their peers who are not in abusive relationships, while teen boys who experience dating violence are more likely to use marijuana as young adults compared to their peers, according to a study in Pediatrics. New research draws a clear connection between dating violence in young people and prescription drug abuse. And those who experience physical dating violence are more likely to smoke and use drugs, among other risky behaviors, compared to peers who did not experience abuse.

How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Affect Dating Partners

When a dating partner is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the risk of more unhealthy and abusive behaviors are heightened, whether it’s verbal, emotional, digital, physical, or sexual abuse. If you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it can make you more vulnerable to being sexually assaulted or having unsafe or unprotected sexual activity. Moreover, the cycle of drug abuse can cause conflict, leading a dating partner to use more to reduce stress or tension, which in turn leads to more conflict.

A partner using abusive behaviors might blame drugs or alcohol for their actions. For instance, they might say things like, “I wouldn’t do that if I was sober,” or, “that’s only what I’m like when I’m drunk or high”. It may seem easy to accept a person’s behavior when they are intoxicated or high, because drugs and alcohol impair judgment and affect the way a person acts. However, if a dating partner blames abusive relationship behaviors on drugs or alcohol, it’s an excuse. There is never a reason for unhealthy or abusive relationship behaviors.

There are many treatment options available to anyone who wishes to end drug and alcohol addiction. Whether it’s counseling, rehabilitation, self-help meetings, or support groups, there are plenty of ways to get help. Drug and alcohol addiction are some of the most difficult things to overcome, but it is possible with the right treatment.

Want to talk about alcohol or drug abuse in a relationship? Call, chat, or text with one of loveisrespect’s peer advocates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.