Addiction Treatment for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors

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Root Causes of Drug and Alcohol Addictions

The root causes of drug and alcohol addictions are as diverse as the people who suffer from them. Sexual abuse and domestic violence are two underlying causes of addiction that sometimes lead survivors to seek treatment at addiction and domestic violence or sexual abuse treatment centers.

According to various studies, victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) are 70% more likely to drink heavily than those who have not experienced IPV. Victims are also more likely to use marijuana.1 In addition to substance abuse, survivors may also experience mental health issues including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).2

Up to 50% of women seeking treatment for mental health and 25-50% of women in substance abuse treatment report IPV.3

Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse, and the Impact

Domestic violence and sexual abuse impact people in all demographics. However, statistics compiled by RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) indicate victims are largely female, with 82 % of juvenile victims and 90% of adult victims being female.4 In the United States, around 35.6% of women have experienced stalking, physical violence, or sexual assault within their lifetime in connection to an intimate relationship.3

Despite the greater impact on women, men can also be the victim of physical and sexual violence, with 1 of every 10 rape victims being male.4 Almost 1 in 10 men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.2

Regardless of the gender, race or nationality of the victim, the trauma suffered can do long-lasting psychological harm.

Victims may suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, anger, and feeling of suicide as a result of this type of abuse.2 Ninety-four percent of women who are raped experience symptoms of PTSD in the 2 weeks after the incident, while 30% still experience symptoms of PTSD 9 months post incident.4

Some domestic and sexual abuse survivors may begin to use, or increase their use of, drugs and alcohol as a way of escaping those feelings and memories.2,5 Victims of sexual assault are 6 times more likely to use cocaine and 10 times more likely to use other major drugs than the general public.4

Unfortunately, the misuse of drugs and alcohol can lead to addiction.

Symptoms of Alcohol and Drug Addiction vary but share some common elements including:5,6

  • Uncontrolled consumption
  • A need to increase the amount of the substance consumed to achieve the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms after ceasing consumption of the substance
  • Participation in dangerous activities while under the influence (e.g. drunk driving)
  • Preoccupation with acquiring and consuming the substance
  • Continued consumption of drugs or alcohol despite the consequences
  • Negligence of responsibilities at home, school or work
  • Legal or financial trouble related to the addiction (ex. DUI tickets)
  • Problems in relationships as a result of consumption of the substance
  • Attempts to hide the signs of consumption
  • Changes in appetite and appearance
  • A sudden gain or loss of weight
  • Unexplained and sudden mood changes or disorder
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes

It’s important that people suffering from drug or alcohol addiction seek help as soon as possible. If domestic or sexual violence is at the heart of the addiction, participating in a treatment program at an addiction and domestic violence or sexual abuse rehab and recovery center can be very beneficial.

Tips for Picking an Inpatient Treatment Center

Domestic violence and sexual abuse are sensitive subjects for many. Survivors often feel guilt or shame and may be reluctant to revisit the incident.5 Finding a rehab facility that specializes in or has extensive experience treating people in this group may make survivors feel more comfortable talking about and eventually resolving those issues. There are a couple of ways you can find the best inpatient treatment program for sexual abuse and domestic violence.

One way is to call our confidential helpline at 1-888-319-2606 Helpline Information and talk to one of our knowledgeable staff members. With access to thousands of rehab centers across the country, counselors can provide information about different recovery programs and help you find a facility that best fits your needs. The call center is always open, so you can call any time of the day or night.

Another option is to ask for referrals from family members, friends, healthcare providers, mental health professionals, and other people you trust. Checking online is also a good way to find addiction treatment centers with programs for domestic violence and sexual abuse survivors.

The best facility for you or your loved one will be one that addresses the individual’s needs and goals. Some things to consider when searching for a treatment facility include the following:7

  • Site security
  • Program length and cost of treatment
  • Services offered
  • Single-gender or coed facility
  • Types of payment accepted
  • Distance from primary residence
  • Accommodations for disabilities
  • Respect for diverse belief systems
  • Availability of aftercare or extended care if needed

It is important to conduct research on any facility before signing up for a program. Check with local licensing agencies to make sure the center and medical staff are properly licensed. You also want to find out if there are any pending lawsuits or disciplinary actions. Lastly, search for patient reviews online to get a sense of the type of treatment you can expect at the facility.

Addressing the underlying issues fueling an addiction to drugs and alcohol can increase your chances of staying clean and sober for life.

Paying for Rehab Treatment

Additional Resources on Drug and Alcohol Treatment


  1. Soper, R.G. (n.d.). Intimate Partner Violence and Co-Occurring Substance Abuse/Addiction. American Society of Addiction Medicine.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Preventing Intimate Partner Violence.
  3. Mason, R., O’Rinn, S.E. (2014). Co-Occurring intimate partner violence, mental health, and substance use problems: a scoping review. Glob Health Action, 7.
  4. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. (n.d.). Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics.
  5. Illinois Department of Human Services. (2005). Addressing Substance Abuse in Domestic Violence Agencies.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). The Science of Drug Use and Addiction: The Basics.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.

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