The Relationship between Alcohol Abuse and Physical Abuse

The Relationship between Alcohol Abuse and Physical AbuseUnderstanding alcohol abuse and addiction can help to prevent abuse and encourage victims and addicts to get the help they need. Victims of childhood physical and sexual abuse are significantly more likely to develop substance abuse problems as adults, and alcoholics are more likely to lose control of their temper and cause physical harm to their children or spouse. Many recovering alcoholics describe decades-long cycles in which a grandparent was abused as a child and then developed an alcohol addiction only to become abusive themselves years later.

Why Do Abused People Tend to Become Abusers?
There are many types of abuse that can lead to addiction problems, and these include the following:

  • Hitting, burning, cutting or other types of physical harm
  • Fondling, rape, incest, exposure to explicit material or other types of sexual abuse
  • Neglect
  • Psychological or emotional abuse

Children and adults who are exposed to abuse will develop necessary but often unhealthy coping mechanisms. This can lead to a variety of negative effects including anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorder, personality disorders, depression and other psychoses. Any such conditions greatly increase the likelihood that a person will turn to alcohol or other substances as a form of self-medication.

Why Do Alcoholics Tend to Abuse Others?

Alcohol addiction directly affects the same part of the brain that is responsible for the following critical psychological functions:

  • Impulse control
  • Emotional management
  • Memory
  • Behavior reinforcement

As the disease progresses individuals will struggle to maintain self-control in emotionally volatile situations. This leads to frustration and anxiety which tends to lead to an increased use of alcohol. Many alcoholics would never think to raise a hand to anyone when they are sober but lose all control when they start drinking. Without intervention and counseling the children of abusive alcoholics will often take on the habits and patterns of their parents and perpetuate the cycle.

How to Stop the Cycle of Abuse and Alcohol Addiction

The most powerful tool for the prevention of this abuse cycle is for those affected to get the help they need. Survivors of abusive childhoods or marriages need expert counseling to understand the risks they face and to find emotional healing, before they begin to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. People who are already starting to suspect that their use of alcohol has gotten out of hand should participate in rehabilitation services. No abusive or addictive situation is beyond help.

Get Help to End Alcoholism and Abuse

If you or a loved one is struggling to quit drinking alcohol or if you are a survivor of physical or sexual abuse and are concerned that you may be losing control of your alcohol use, please call our toll-free helpline. Our expert counselors can answer all of your questions and connect you with recovery resources. Don’t let your hurtful past control your future. Call today.