Violent Behaviour as a Sign of Addiction
Violence (often interchanged with aggression) is defined as behaviour that threatens or harms lives and property. It is common for violent behaviour to begin with verbal threats, before escalating to actual physical harm. A person’s likelihood of being violent can be increased by a number of factors – one of which is addiction. Drug, alcohol and gambling addictions are all linked with increased violent behaviour.
Aggression towards Self
Many people think of violent behaviour as occurring only towards others, but it’s important to note that addicts can be dangerous to themselves as well as others. Addicts may experience negative feelings, such as frustration and anger, leading them to self-harm as an escape. In more severe cases, the addict attempts suicide as the only way to ‘end it all’. Those who have committed grievous acts of violence are more likely to commit suicide as a way to escape overwhelming feelings of guilt.
Aggression towards Others
A UK study found that men with gambling addictions were more likely to exhibit violent behaviours towards others. The study also found that there was a direct correlation between the severity of addiction and the tendency to resort to violence.
Alcohol and drugs that provide feelings of overconfidence (such as cocaine and meth) are very likely to lead to aggression towards others. Users may also resort to violence, as they seek ways to fund their habit. Violent behaviour in addiction cases is characterised by the abuser gaining control over another person via coercive behaviour and physical, emotional, and sexual threats. Some drugs activate brain processes that deal with aggression, giving the users a way to justify their violent behaviour. This behaviour is more likely to occur in intimate relationships, where one partner has an addiction problem. Victims of the abusers may be forced to take drugs by their aggressors, as part of their intimidation plan. In many cases, victims may end up abusing substances and becoming addicts themselves, as they look for ways to cope with the physical and emotional pain being inflicted on them. For some, substance abuse gives them the confidence to face up to their abusers.
Seeking Professional Help
If you know someone with addiction issues and violent tendencies, it’s important to avoid making excuses for their actions. Most aggressors seek help when made to face the consequences of their actions. It is also important to speak to them during windows of sobriety – especially after an incident has occurred. If you are an addict and recognise the features of violent behaviour in yourself, it’s important to seek professional help. This is in the form of visiting a treatment centre that is holistic in its approach to your addiction, meaning that they are well equipped to deal with violent behaviour alongside other addiction symptoms. Violence is a learned behaviour. Treating yourself is not only beneficial to you, but also to those around you who have been affected by your actions.
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