30 Aug You Are Not Alone: Healing Through a Harm Reduction Approach
There are a myriad of risk factors leading to Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence, and substance misuse is often observed as a common complicating factor. Their co-existence expresses itself in a variety of ways, from being an element leading to violent incidents to maladaptive coping and navigating the impact of trauma. The use, misuse, and addiction of substances or unhealthy behaviors or habits are all qualified differently on a spectrum of severity.
Addiction is characterized as the continued, compulsive-out of control use of a drug or behavior despite serious harm to self or others. The most important messages WTLC wants to amplify to those who find themselves engaging in substance misuse and/or addiction are the following:
- You’re not alone in your experiences.
- The road to addiction is complicated & you’re not at fault.
- There’s a variety of different types of support available for you when you’re ready.
Let’s Dig In:
You’re not alone in your experiences.
Today’s America is more anxious, depressed, and addicted than ever before. Rates of alcohol use have increased significantly and addiction rates for men and women are currently 1:1, after historically being 5:1. Currently, 50% of the world’s deaths are attributed to addiction in those under age 50. The American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that substance abuse has been found to co-occur in 40-60% of intimate partner violence incidents across various studies. Research conducted by the American Psychological Association demonstrates that on days of heavy drug and/or alcohol use, physical violence was 11 times more likely among those in intimate partner violence relationships.
Psychiatry, Neurology, and Addiction Expert, Anna Lembke, MD, shares that one of the biggest early warning signs of overconsumption and compulsion that can lead to addiction is when people find themselves living a double-life; when what we say about how we’re living doesn’t align with how we’re living. Substance misuse and addiction does not always result in an obvious visible life dysfunction from the outside looking in, and the impact of addiction looks different for each person. Truth-telling really is hard for all people, though actively engaging in telling the truth to yourself and others is one recommendation she has to help to detect the depth of one’s needs and problem.
The road to addiction is complicated & you’re not at fault.
All humans are wired and acculturated to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Dr. Lembke describes that the combination of our wiring while living in an America with an “overwhelming overabundance of pleasure goods that are infinitely available at the tap of a finger,” makes addiction inevitable. The culture and systems that influence our worldview and behavior are scientifically intended to encourage us to choose paths that lead us down the road of pleasure. From ‘likes’ on social media posts, to the specific nutrition make-up of packaged foods purposed to make you want more, and beyond, we’re all prone to seeking out things that make us feel good and engage more. Additionally, substances are created with higher potencies, more complex characteristics, and are more accessible than ever before.
There’s no single cause of addiction, though there are factors that cause some people to be increasingly more vulnerable to becoming addicted, from biological and genetic factors to traumatic childhood experiences, mental illnesses, to social and environmental elements. One important aspect of myth-busting the reason for addiction is that there are also people who have seemingly perfect lives and still experience addiction. The truth is that we are all vulnerable to addiction, the reason addiction occurs may not always be able to be clearly identified, and we live in a world where we are more likely to experience addiction than ever before.
There’s a variety of different types of support available for you when you’re ready.
There are a multitude of factors that can promote our healing, though a few common threads in many addiction-healing narratives include a sense of authentic connection within a community of others, release of blame, and accepting the belief that we’re all imperfect and on a road to becoming the best version of ourselves one day at a time, together. WTLC is available and able to support those in violent relationships, whether domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or exploitation, who are experiencing substance misuse or abuse as a complicating dynamic. Our clinical advocates are here to provide counseling services and clinical case management, which may even include connecting individuals and families with agencies in the community we’re partnered with, including Mariposa Women and Family Center’s outpatient substance abuse and addiction program, and Action Alliance, a sober living facility. To find out more about clinical services at WTLC, please contact our 24/7 Helpline: (877) 531-5522. There are many paths to a lifetime of recovery, so please reach out if you would like some assistance in finding the right path for you.
Free National and Orange County/Surrounding Area Resources for Substance Misuse Support:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association
National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Orange County Social Services Agency – Substance Abuse Services:
211: Substance Abuse Support Groups:
Alcoholics Anonymous in Fullerton, CA:
Orange County Narcotics Anonymous:
24-Hour Helpline: (714) 590-2388
Parents of Addicted Loved Ones in Orange County, CA: