Substance abuse disorders and mental illness have long been associated with domestic violence incidents. According to American Addiction Centers, alcohol or drug use is involved in 40-60% of domestic abuse situations. However, we know that substance abuse alone is not the direct cause of domestic violence. But when you pair reduced self-control with underlying mental health issues, situations could escalate and become violent. Let’s take a closer look at how addiction and mental health can link to domestic violence.

Mental Illness and Domestic Violence

Untreated mental health issues can worsen, leading the individual suffering from the illness to behave erratically, lose rational reasoning, and resort to violent outbursts. And often, it’s the people they are closest to or intimate with, which are the ones who are present when they lose control.

Addiction and Domestic Violence

We know the signs and symptoms of substance abuse can include behavioral and emotional disruptions. The person may become secretive about activities, have trouble with normal sleeping patterns, and have problems maintaining healthy relationships. They can become irritable and defensive, lose interest in activities they once loved, and get confused easily. At some point, they may be unable to deal with the stress that they become argumentative and violent.

Experts have long observed the connection between alcoholism, drug addiction, and domestic violence. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 55% of domestic abuse persons of interest drank before the assault. Because excessive drinking can weaken normal cognitive functions and reasoning, the person may be unable to rationally negotiate non-violent resolutions in the face of conflict. And relationships that are already going through troubles such as infidelity, financial difficulties, and childcare problems are the ones that are the most susceptible.

In many cases, the root of the addiction may be traced to the relationship itself. Without other means to handle their distress, they will turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their feelings. And when they’ve hurt the one they love, they once again turn to substances to overcome their guilt.

Because we also know that substance abuse and mental illness can be co-occurring disorders, with one disorder being the cause of the other and vice versa, what happens is a vicious cycle.

At Communicare, we recognize the power of treating co-occurring disorders. When co-occurring disorders are treated together, your medical, physical, emotional, and mental needs are addressed.

If you or someone you know has a mental health or substance use emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room, or call 1-866-837-7521 to connect to

Communicare’s mobile crisis team, 24 hours a weekday, seven days a week, 365 days a year.