When domestic violence happens in the home, it’s seldom caused by just one thing. While we are all accountable for our choices and our actions, there may be many contributing factors that increase the likelihood of DV occurring. Let’s continue our exploration into habits and behaviors (some unexpected) that may help create a scenario where domestic violence is more likely to occur.
Although the use of alcohol is never a sole trigger of abuse, the connection between alcohol abuse and domestic violence is widely documented. In fact, a report by the World Health Organization states that approximately 55 percent of domestic violence perpetrators do so after consuming alcohol. While many people drink alcohol for its calming or relaxing effects, large amounts of alcohol can lead to irritability and aggression. The actual science behind why this happens isn’t always so clear, but there seem to be several ways in which alcohol consumption can make domestic violence more likely:
- Alcohol disrupts the chemicals in your brain that control mood levels, which can cause sudden shifts from being extremely happy to extremely hostile. In addition, alcohol is a depressant, and it can therefore make you more irritable.
- Alcohol in large quantities can induce blackouts or memory loss—meaning you may not even remember acting aggressively towards someone, let alone have the presence of mind to regret it.
- Alcohol abuse can cause a general lack of impulse control. Your inhibitions are more easily dropped and you’ll act on what feels right in the moment rather than what’s smart or safe. If you are an alcoholic, you may experience reduced inhibitions even when you’re sober—and if these reduced inhibitions lead you toward aggressive behavior, it may be more difficult to establish the link between your alcoholism and your proclivity toward violence.
Bottom line: Alcohol abuse is one of the most widely researched risk factors for domestic violence. Although one drink might not lead you to act aggressively, frequent binge drinking or over-consumption can. If you suspect that you have developed a problem with alcohol, seek help from your doctor or local support group.
Use of Supplements
We’ve previously discussed the fact that a poor diet can be a contributing factor to increased aggression due to nutritional deficits. By extension, you might assume that adding certain supplements to your diet might restore mood and reduce aggressiveness—and you’d be at least partly right. In a highly reported study on prison inmates, the inmates who were given vitamins showed much lower rates of aggression than those who subsisted on “junk food.”
That being said, not all supplements are all that helpful—and in fact, certain supplements can cause an increase in irritability and aggression. This isn’t necessarily due to the fact that you don’t like eating healthy—it’s related to the actual side effects of certain vitamins, minerals, and other supplements. Again, science has not fully figured out how these particular chemical compounds affect your behavior and moods, but some suspect that it’s related to a breakdown in your central nervous system—which is the network of neurons that allow you to perceive and react to your environment.
Most supplements that cause aggression are immune boosters, testosterone enhancers, or other types of performance-enhancing products. Bodybuilding enthusiasts who take supplements may be especially vulnerable to increased aggression as many of the substances intended to build muscle and increase strength can also have a seriously negative effect on mood. For example:
- Excessive use of protein supplements can trigger more aggressive tendencies—in part due to toxic byproducts like mercury which is known to cause mood swings and depression.
- Anabolic steroids, which are taken to increase testosterone output, are known through multiple studies to cause increased irritability and aggression—a phenomenon often called “’roid rage.”
Bottom line: Although some supplements can help stabilize your mood, some of them may have serious negative side effects—and taking too much or the wrong kind could increase your risk for domestic violence. If you’re experiencing frequent irritability and anger, talk to your doctor about any supplements you’re taking and see if some need to be discontinued. If you are taking protein supplements and/or steroids as part of a weight training regimen–stop. The performance enhancements aren’t worth the risk of becoming violent toward your partner and getting charged with DV.
Drug Use (Both Legal and Illegal Drugs)
Drugs are regulated for a reason. In some cases, they can treat symptoms or encourage healing, but they often have powerful side effects, some of which can affect the brain. This is as true of legal prescription medications as it is for illegal substances. Many prescription medications (including stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall) can trigger symptoms of mania, which can be characterized by aggression and violence toward others. Illegal drugs like ecstasy, cocaine, and meth are well-known for causing aggression, but even supposed “mellowing” drugs like marijuana have been linked to increased domestic violence.
Both stimulants and depressants have a way of taking you out of yourself–not only because they affect your perceptions (for example, the world can seem brighter or darker, louder or quieter), but also because they do things to your brain that numb you from feeling actual emotions. This can affect your judgment negatively, and you may end up committing a violent act without consciously thinking about what you’re doing.
Bottom line: There are thousands of drugs available, and they all affect the body and mind in many ways—so there’s no way to summarize how many of them (or in which combination) might specifically produce aggressive behavior. Just know that many of them can. Always check the list of side effects of your prescription medications, and if you take multiple drugs, ask your doctor or pharmacist about drug interactions. And if you have been prone to domestic violence, just stay away from illegal drugs. They won’t make things better; they can only make things worse.
If you have recently been arrested or charged with domestic violence in Los Angeles, don’t try to “go it alone” with your defense. A skilled defense attorney can ensure your rights are protected and that you have a fair chance to mitigate the damage and begin the healing process. Call our office today for a free case evaluation.