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Addressing Substance Abuse Issues May Be an Important First Step in Reducing Domestic Violence

About 61 percent of domestic violence offenders have problems with substance abuse. In fact, many victims of domestic violence may eventually turn to alcohol or other intoxicants as a means for coping with their circumstances. While substance abuse treatment alone does not automatically cure domestic violence, it can play a vital role in helping offenders understand and correct their behavior. Additionally, pursuing voluntary treatment before trial can potentially help convicted offenders receive lighter sentencing. 

Just as the use of alcohol is widely known to contribute to aggressive driving behavior, alcohol can lead to domestic violence. Moreover, the use of certain legally-prescribed drugs, such as amphetamines used to treat ADHD, antidepressants and even smoking cessation drugs can pose a tenfold or greater risk of violence over other drugs. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence cites many disturbing connections between substance abuse and domestic violence:

  • Regular alcohol abuse represents a leading risk factor in domestic partner violence.
  • Victims of alcohol-related domestic violence often suffer more severe injuries.
  • Batterers often view the alcohol as being responsible for their behavior, rejecting any personal responsibility.
  • The risk of intimate partner violence increases when both batterers and their victims abuse drugs or alcohol.

The exact circumstances behind domestic violence cases determine the extent of charges faced by defendants. For example, while some offenders face misdemeanor charges, strangulation is a Class C felony, subject to up to five years of imprisonment. When a defendant voluntarily undergoes and can display real progress from serious substance abuse treatment prior to trial, prosecutors are more likely to reduce charges and judges may reduce sentences, subject to continued treatment and progress.

Naturally, not all cases of domestic violence involve substance abuse. In fact, many defendants face false charges brought against them by individuals with ulterior motives; for example, people seeking custody of children in divorce or seeking revenge after a painful breakup. Anyone facing a domestic violence charge needs to seek the support immediately from a Hawaii criminal defense lawyer with specific experience working on these emotionally charged cases.

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