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Impact of Addiction on Families: Addiction and Abuse

Substance addiction and verbal, emotional, or physical abuse too often go hand-in-hand.

The connection between addiction and abuse is complex, no matter the relationship between you and the person you love, whether you’re a parent emotionally abused by an adult child or a partner physically assaulted by a significant other.

You deserve to live a life free from the stress and pain of abuse. And understanding the warning signs that indicate you’re being abused by an addicted person is the first step on the journey toward a healthier life.

Signs of Verbal Abuse

Unlike physical harm, verbal abuse leaves no apparent bruises, marks, or scars. In fact, the absence of visible signs sometimes leads abused people—and those around them—to believe that what they’re experiencing isn’t “real” or that they’re being “overly sensitive.”

An addicted person who verbally abuses you may:

  • Insult, taunt, or humiliate you
  • Call you names
  • Reject you for periods of time (aka “the silent treatment”)
  • Minimize your abilities, experiences, or achievements

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Like verbal abuse, the emotional type can be subtle enough that you may not even realize it’s happening. However, emotional abuse can batter your self-esteem and devastate your mental well-being, laying the foundation for potential depression, anxiety, and chronic stress.

An addicted person who emotionally abuses you may:

  • Blame you for their substance use
  • Blame you for any abuse they inflict on you
  • Neglect you
  • Threaten you or those you love
  • Intimidate you with weapons
  • Threaten to kill themselves
  • Hurt your pets or property
  • Stalk you (this may include checking your phone or social media accounts, too)
  • Gaslight you (that is, manipulate you to make you feel like you’re “crazy”)
  • Control your behavior (e.g., restricting access to money or preventing you from seeing family and friends)
  • Pressure you to use alcohol and/or other drugs

Signs of Physical Abuse

Substance abuse plays a role in 40 to 60 percent of intimate partner violence (IPV) incidents. While the connection between substance abuse and any behavior is complex, evidence suggests that the use of alcohol and other drugs may spark violent behavior—or make it worse. In addition to the serious physical risk, violence raises your own risk of substance abuse, as alcohol and other drugs can be used to self-medicate stress and pain.

An addicted person who physically abuses you may:

  • Push or shove you
  • Punch, slap, kick, or choke you
  • Prevent you from eating or sleeping
  • Drive dangerously when you’re in the car
  • Abuse you sexually
  • Prevent you from calling the police or getting medical attention
  • Force you to use alcohol and/or other drugs

Find the support you need.

Not everyone with addiction will abuse loved ones. But if you’re being abused by an addicted person, seek guidance from professionals who can assess the situation and point you toward help—and hope.

The GateHouse offers comprehensive treatment services in Lancaster, including residential treatment, outpatient and intensive outpatient programs, and transitional recovery residences. Our team also offers case management care to support long-term recovery.

Contact us for confidential guidance.

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