This year as part of my work in spreading awareness on Domestic violence and the impact of Covid19 on survivors of abuse, I acquired insight on another contributor to the abuse pandemic- one which has been around long before the Covid19 and sadly will linger on long afterward.
Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Psychoactive substance use can lead to dependence syndrome – a behavioral, cognitive, and physiological phenomena which develops after repeated substance use due to a strong desire to take a drug.
Difficulties in controlling use, persisting in usage despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state are some of the effects of substance abuse.
Most of us probably know of someone struggling with some type of substance abuse. Usually we connect substance abuse with celebrities and the homeless.
Substance abuse is a disease, and diseases don’t discriminate, instead it transcends gender, age, social and economic backgrounds.
People get addicted to drugs for a number of reasons many of which have underlying issues such as trauma, living in a negative environment, inheriting addiction genes or undergoing great deals of stress. But did you know that substance abuse is prevalent among victims of domestic and sexual abuse? Victims of domestic & sexual abuse turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to hide their mental & emotional pain, as a result they are more likely to have a substance abuse problem than those who are in non – violent relationships. Furthermore, many individuals who develop substance abuse are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa. Any kind of frequent and extremely high level of mistreatment towards an individual is quite stressful, something which can be the culprit for the development of addiction as traumatic experiences significantly increase one’s likelihood of abusing alcohol or drugs.
Covid19 has emphasized the crossroad of domestic & sexual abuse, substance abuse, mental illness, suicide and the cycle created from trauma by racism and violence. We all know of the barriers which prevents victims of domestic & sexual abuse from speaking out- Shame, Stigma, Guilt, Fear of not being believed and its repercussions. Barriers which also hold true for Substance abuse victims & those needing mental health aid.
The recent reckoning of police violence and systematic racism in our country makes the decision to seek help even more difficult –
Law enforcement agencies, brazen & shameless enough, are blatantly threatening to or have already severed ties with domestic violence programs who openly display support for
the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement. Seeing it as a political statement instead of what it was meant to be- a showing of support and safety for communities of color. The disheartening part of this behavior is that while these law enforcement agencies are focusing on sticking it to the DVPrograms, they have now become abusers & bullies themselves- by cutting their funding, they neglect to realize that they are also affecting the very people who need the promise of the oath law enforcements agencies took – To protect and serve.., putting those who are in the most need of resources, safety and shelter without the help they need. Sometimes it is a matter of life and death.
it baffles me that in our present climate be it Politically, Medically, Socially – our core values reflect the level of selfishness, and lack of regard for our fellow human life. Have we really lost our sense of humanity & human decency? It’s important to be knowledgeable on abuse & afflictions like substance abuse and their relationship to mental illnesses. This can afford the ability to help those who are victims of such conditions find quality treatment and achieve better quality of life.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse & domestic violence please use the resources listed below. There is no need to feel shame or guilt, & always remember you are not alone on your journey. Wishing you Health & Happiness.