It sounds like the name of a new reality show, right? But in real real life, there is a connection between people in abusive dating relationships, and drugs and alcohol.
Actually, it’s a two-way street. Drugs and alcohol increase the risk for dating violence, and people who are victims of dating violence are at increased risk for using drugs and alcohol.
Being drunk or drugged can make someone more likely to physically or emotionally hurt a person they’re in a relationship with. Drugs and alcohol make it harder to keep your emotions in check and to make the right choices. They also make it easier to act impulsively without thinking through the consequences. And the people on the receiving end of that abuse are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the depression and anxiety that result from being victimized.
Abuse between teens in a romantic relationship is known as Teen Dating Violence. It happens when one person intentionally hurts the other—or when they both do it to each other. Dating violence can be emotional, physical, and/or sexual, and it also includes stalking. It can be with a current or former partner. It can happen in person or electronically. And it has real consequences for a person’s health, today and in the future.
Abusive relationships don’t always start out that way. Often, they start with teasing, or periods of jealously or being controlling. But as with many unhealthy behaviors, over time it can get worse. For nearly 10 percent of high school students surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Pervention (CDC) in 2013, “worse” means that in the last year they were hit, slapped, or physically hurt by their partner.
The best way to avoid teen dating violence (for those of you allowed to date!) is by having healthy relationships. This doesn’t mean there isn’t any conflict in the relationship, because that isn’t realistic—even for the most in-love people ever. It means both people learning how to resolve their differences respectfully. That can make all the difference.
February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month. Learn more by checking out these resources:
- “What does respect mean to you?” – A new poster from NIDA and the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention.
- What is teen dating violence? – From the CDC.
- Love is Respect – A site with support, information, and advocacy for young people who have questions or concerns about their dating relationships.
- Tips on the difference between healthy and unhealthy communications (PDF) – From the CDC.