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Drugs & Health Blog

Drug Use and Violence: An Unhappy Relationship

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The NIDA Blog Team

Most of us have been in an argument. How far it goes and whether it escalates and turns violent depends on a lot of different factors—what the argument is about, the personalities of the people involved, where the fight takes place, and whether or not one or both people are under the influence of drugs and alcohol. 

A NIDA-funded study looked at youth who were treated in an urban emergency department because of a violence-related injury. It turns out that not all drug use leads to the same kinds of violence. This study looked specifically at whether the violence was “dating violence” or “non-dating violence” and what impact, if any, the type of drug used made.

Dating violence is controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. It can happen in straight or gay relationships. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or a combination.

The researchers found that teens treated in the emergency department for an injury related to dating violence were more likely to be girls than boys. There were also differences in the types of drugs used before a dating violence incident vs. non-dating violence incidents. 

For example, some youth tended to use alcohol alone or in combination with marijuana just before a non-dating violence incident occurred and tended to abuse prescription sedatives (Xanax or Valium) and/or opioids (like Vicodin and OxyContin) before a dating violence incident occurred.

This study tells us that the drug of choice may be different for boys and girls, and that girls are more likely than boys to experience dating violence. The drugs used may also be different depending on the situation (for example, being at home versus being at a bar or club). But more research is needed to learn how different drugs may make us more or less aggressive or more likely to be the victim of someone else who is using drugs or alcohol. Understanding more about this, and how gender and substance use factor into dating violence (and non-dating violence), will help public health educators develop programs to help teens who may end up in violent situations.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week is March 23–27, 2015. This is a good time to stop and think about how drugs and alcohol can play a role in violence.  

If you or someone you know is also being hurt physically or emotionally, try some of these resources: 

Tell Us—How can you be part of the solution and not the problem?

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Luckily, I have never been in an unhappy relationship but this has been extremely informative!
Drug use can potentially raise the risk of violence and/or arguments, and could probably make us do something we wouldn't do normally. I think it's best if we try to limit or not use drugs at all.
This is the letter my 11yr old just wrote to her dad. She's not sure if she will give it to him but she needed to finally get it out she said. She handed this letter to me and my heart broke into pieces. Dear Baba, I know what you are doing.It is no secret anymore. You need to stop. Mama did her part, and now it's your turn. You say you get paid 1,000 a week but we have nothing. It is no mystery where that money goes. I tried to deny it. But there is too much evidence. We can't afford anything at all. I know if you wanted to you could stop. It has been years. I guess you don't want to stop.
I agree with Ace about limiting your drug use or not taking drugs at all. I have been to drug rehab centers and have seen people my age ( young 18 year old's) who are struggling to reconstruct their lives. The con's of drug use are much greater than its pro's. Teenagers should start to realize the true danger of becoming an addict,i.e losing everything that you may currently have and risking your relationship with those that you love. Without your loved ones and the necessary tools, life can become very difficult to live.
teens who take drugs are more likely to have violent incidents than those who don't. not all incidents are related to dating, some are related to dating and some aren't but they usually happen after the person has taken drugs. girls are more likely to experience dating violence. gender plays a big part in what type of violence occurs. almost always drugs play a part in the violence that occurs.
Almost anyone who takes in drugs, will face violent issues at one point in they're drug taking life. Dating or non dating the teen or anyone will react to something more different then they should react to it being sober. The actions they normally would want to provoke will be violence because that's all they can think about. Being under the influence can make a lot of people not think about actions and only think for the moment wich then leads to fighting for any little reason.
I do belive that violence and drugs are related because some drugs do cause you to lose your temper eisier. I also belive some drugs may cause you too fight or become aggresave when you dont have to be. Drugs may also cause you to over react in certain situations. You also may lash out in certain situations when you may not need to. And lastly you can harm somone while under the influence of drugs that you may not want to harm when sober.
my ex and i were both heavy addicts which resulted in a near fatal trip to the ER and a life time of damages.