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Substance abuse and domestic violence are often linked together. Drugs and alcohol can serve to incite fights and lower someone's impulse control. It's just recently, however, that researchers have started to realize that drugs and alcohol are also weapons that get used inside many violent and coercive relationships.

It's a practice that's known as substance use coercion or "forced drug abuse" (although alcohol can also be involved). In studies, 60% of domestic violence victims who eventually looked for substance abuse treatment reported interference from their spouses and partners as they tried to get clean. Many victims also report being forced to use drugs by their abusers.

Why would a coercive, manipulative partner seek to undermine their victim's sobriety? Because a victim who is inebriated or high is much easier to control than one that isn't. Plus, addiction often fosters codependency between couples -- which reassures the abuser that the victim won't leave. Drug and alcohol abuse can also disrupt the victim's ability to maintain financial independence (or acquire it, if they don't already have it), and it can put a wedge between the victim and the victim's social and familial support system.

Substance abuse coercion can include:

  • Being emotionally blackmailed into consuming drugs or alcohol
  • Physically being forced to ingest drugs or alcohol against your will
  • Being forced or pressured into consuming far more drugs or alcohol than you wanted
  • Being emotionally blackmailed or physically stopped from obtaining help for your addiction.

If you've been the victim of domestic violence, including substance abuse coercion or forced drug abuse, there is legal help available. A restraining order and other measures can help you get a new start.

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