Drugs, Alcohol, and Teen Dating ViolenceThe teenage years are filled with emotion, hormones, and growth. Many begin romantic relationships for the first time. Teenage relationships are tough. Things become even more challenging when alcohol and drugs are involved. Studies show that there is a link between drug and alcohol abuse and teen dating violence.
Drugs, Alcohol Lower Inhibitions
A lot of teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol. Sometimes it’s because they feel pressure since other kids are doing it. Other times it’s a learned behavior at home. Some teens turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to escape or relax.
Whatever the reason, drugs and alcohol alter the way our minds and bodies work. Drugs and alcohol lower inhibitions and increase the risk of engaging in unhealthy behaviors. Teams have a lower tolerance for drugs and alcohol, so the effects are much more dramatic.
Unhealthy behaviors can be incredibly dangerous in a teenage relationship. Teens under the influence of drugs or alcohol are more likely to become:
- Physically abusive
- Emotionally abusive, and
- Sexually abusive.
Alcohol-charged outbursts also tend to be more violent and damaging.
Dating Violence and Parents’ Substance Abuse
Drugs and alcohol can adversely impact teen dating relationships, even if the teams involved aren’t drinking. At least one study has found that a parent’s drug or alcohol use can affect their child’s relationships in the future.
According to researchers at the University of Buffalo research institute on addictions, teen dating Violence isn’t just a teenage problem. Rather, “the risk for aggressive behavior and involvement in dating Violence are related to stressors experienced much earlier in life.”
If, between preschool and middle school, a child has an alcoholic or drug addicted parent, they are much more likely to be abusive to partners in future relationships.
Why? There could be a number of reasons to explain the relationship between a parent’s addictions and a teen’s behavior.
- Parents struggling with addiction are more likely to be depressed and/or withdrawn from their children.
- Children are only exposed to behaviors fueled by drugs and alcohol and accept them as the norm.
- Deprived of attention, children are more prone to act out.
- Children witness or are victims of abuse at home.
Researchers believe that a parent’s addictions change the family dynamic and cause children to become more aggressive. These aggressive tendencies prevent those children from developing positive, healthy relationships.
Substance Abuse and Victims of Dating Violence
Drug and alcohol abuse contribute to dating Violence. It’s also a consequence of it. Victims of teen dating violence are much more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the abuse.
Girls are more likely to turn to alcohol, while boys are more likely to abuse marijuana. All teens who are involved in abusive relationships are more likely to abuse prescription opioid medications.
Abusing drugs and alcohol won’t just affect a teenager’s relationships. It can also impact other aspects of their lives. Teens may begin to choose drugs and alcohol over school, friends, sports, and family. Substance abuse in teens is linked with poor decisions, including drunk driving.
Jim Yeargan, a former prosecutor and Atlanta-based DUI lawyer, says teens are much more likely than adults to get into an accident while driving under the influence. At the very least, the decision to drive drunk can result in an arrest for DUI. At the very worst, a drunk driving accident can be fatal and warrant much more serious charges. Not only will the teen have face criminal charges, but also live with the knowledge and memory of such a tragic event.
Drugs and alcohol are deeply intertwined with teen dating violence. Substance abuse is both a cause and effect. It can be a vicious cycle. Parent drinks. Child inclined to be violent in future relationships. Teen abuses partner. Teen and victim both turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. They’ll grow up and, if they don’t get help and leave their habits behind, their own children may be destined to live the same life.
Without intervention, this cycle is doomed to repeat itself. It needs to be broken. Don’t just speak with your kids about dating violence. Talk to them about drugs and alcohol, as well.