Violence in Substance Use Disorders: How Do They Relate?

Substance use disorders can have a wide variety of repercussions, even violent tendencies in some cases.

In these lines, we will deepen the possible relationship between some of these pathologies due to drug use and hostile or even violent behavior, Try to identify the causes and situations in which this type of behavior is most likely to occur.

    Cases of violence in substance use disorders

    Substance use disorders are one of many types of psychopathological disorders considered in major psychological diagnostic textbooks, such as the DSM-V or ICD-10. This range can include the abuse of items such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs or other drugs, generally of an illegal nature in terms of marketing. this consumption it becomes a disorder when it generates an addiction such that its consumption escapes the control of the individual and it becomes a necessity.

    When suffering from this pathology, it is very common to also experience a series of associated symptoms, which can be very diverse in nature, but what interests us in this case is that of violence in disorders related to the substance use. These violent behaviors have a significantly higher prevalence in these individuals than in the general population..

    In fact, studies show that a person dependent on certain substances to certain substances was 4 to 10 times more likely to have violent attitudes than those who did not abuse any of these substances. The difference is therefore extremely concerning and allows us to establish violence in substance use disorders as one of the most important causes of these antisocial behaviors.

    In addition, these studies indicate that it is not a specific substance that leads to violent behavior, but it is the fact of suffering from addictionAs the symptoms are shared among people who use substances as diverse as opiates, sedatives, hallucinogenic mushrooms, stimulant drugs like cocaine and also cannabis. There are more types, but these are the ones that occupy the majority of individuals with violent behavior.

    The context of the violence

    The most recent meta-analysis on violence in substance use disorders brings together data from 18 different studies that have been published over the past three decades and accumulates data from nearly 600,000 people with substance use disorders. pathologies and their aggressive behavior. This work allows us to draw very interesting conclusions, some on the contexts in which this violence is usually practiced.

    Although several of the studies affect the amount of violent behavior that drug addicts engage in within the family, that is, under the category of gender violence or within the couple, the reality is that no difference is made. ‘has been observed compared to other contexts, so the conclusion is that violence in substance use disorders is prevalent in all settings, not just partner in the family home.

    It is possible that these cases stand out more because, for a matter of probability, the couple is the person with whom the individual in question tends to spend the most time and will therefore be more likely to be the target of these attitudes. violent. But that doesn’t mean that people who abuse substances tend to be more aggressive in the family setting than in other settings, but everyone will be.

    Likewise, another important difference is observed in the results and it is that which occurs between the cohort studies and those of case and control. In the cohort, i.e. those in which cases are observed and analyzed as they arise, it was concluded that there was a lower prevalence of these violent behaviors compared to those in which the case of drug addicts compared to a control group of individuals without this pathology.

      Implications of this relationship

      Leaving aside the discrepancies between the different perspectives provided by the types of studies analyzed, it is clear that there is a widely held conclusion that there is in fact a problem of violence in substance use disorders.. Once we have this problem on the table, we must take the opportunity to find a solution that stops the two situations that we want to solve.

      On the one hand, there is the fact of having individuals who abuse harmful substances and therefore experience a progressive deterioration at the physical, psychological and social level, which will be more or less accentuated according to the level of consumption and the characteristics of the person. , its protection and risk factors, the type of substance consumed, etc.

      On the other hand, there is violence, which is just one of the many consequences that drug addiction brings with the exception that, unlike most symptoms, it directly affects third parties, who are the ones who endure it. these aggressive behaviors, either verbally. or physically.

      This does not mean that they are the only victims of violence, because even the abusers themselves can suffer the consequencesWhether it is to see dangerous situations that they have engendered, such as arguments or fights, and even at the judicial level, and can be the subject of complaints, arrests, sanctions and even penalties prison if the behavior was particularly serious and the justice dictates.

      Once we are aware of the deep scale of the problem, we must understand the importance of devoting more resources through staff and specialized programs that help people addicted to substances to cure this disease, Since once resolved, all symptoms and repercussions would be eliminated, including the violent behaviors that we have already seen affect both the person exercising it and especially those who experience it.

      The importance of prevention

      If we have seen that in order to solve cases of violence in substance use disorders it is essential to invest in appropriate treatments that improve and cure these diseases, the truth is that it is even more important to fight against these situations and to devote all the necessary public resources in this direction.

      The logic of the question is clear and compelling, even at the economic level, because if we add the costs of detoxification programs, the possible medical costs for the after-effects suffered, the emotional and social costs for the patient and for the sick. everyone around her who has suffered violence, the amount we are getting is far more than what the awareness campaigns would cost us to make this addiction ever happen.

      Obviously, that this is something we are already working on and there are important foundations that constantly remind the most vulnerable populationGenerally speaking, adolescents and young people, the risks associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and as a false sense of control, group pressure and the search for strong emotions, among many others factors, can have terrible repercussions.

      The key must be consistency in these campaigns and adaptation to the language and the mode of communication of the youngest, because we know that this changes quickly and therefore the message that came to them yesterday and was therefore effective, no it should not so today and they can ignore it altogether, rejecting the entire prevention program and all the work and resources that underpin it.

      A few years ago, the most common was to run these campaigns mainly through TV commercials. However, today the paradigm has changed and young people barely connect to these media while constantly communicating through their cell phones. It will therefore be essential to take advantage of the entry of social networks, applications in which adolescents are real experts.

      A well-orchestrated campaign, with appropriate and spontaneous language, through a TikTok video or an Instagram photo, is likely to be immensely more powerful than a TV spot, radio spot or other message launched through “ some other medium of communication. . traditional. It will therefore be of vital importance that experts make use of this possibility and thus work to prevent violence in substance use disorders.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Hopenhayn, M. (2002). Drugs and violence: the ghosts of the new Latin American metropolis. Police. Latin American magazine.
      • Vaiz, RG, Nakano, AMS (2004). Domestic violence, couple drug use, from the perspective of the abused woman Latin American Journal of Nursing.
      • Zhong, S., Yu, R., Fazel, S. (2020). Drug use disorders and violence: associations with individual drug categories. Epidemiological reviews.

      Leave a Comment