Pubdate: Wed, 22 Nov 2006
Source: Cochrane Eagle (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 Cochrane Eagle
Author: Bob Bolduc
Note: Bob Bolduc is an addictions counsellor with AADAC at the Cochrane


November is Family Violence Prevention Awareness Month. Family
violence and abuse exists in our community, however each of us can
make a difference. When a concerned person becomes informed and talks
to other people, positive things happen.

Cochrane and area service providers will collaborate to provide
education and awareness articles and programs throughout November.

The following is the fourth installment.

"Mommy, why does daddy get so mad at me when he drinks?"

It's a shame to hear those words. We hear so much about domestic
violence and substance abuse issues these days. Family violence issues
accounts for 60 per cent of all murders of women in Canada. More than
50 per cent of batterers suffer from alcohol abuse. These are not
statistics to be very proud of.

Substance abuse does not cause violence, but research shows a high
correlation between substance abuse and incidents of violence. In a
study of 53 male alcoholics it was found that 75 per cent reported a
history of violent behavior, attempted suicide, violence in childhood
and the use of other drugs.

Research clearly indicates that domestic violence is most often a male
issue. In spite of the statistics, many males insist that equal (or
more) responsibility lies with the female partner for provoking some
conflict that then leads to violence. In fact, studies have shown that
35 to 67 per cent of men seeking substance abuse treatment report
being abused by their female partners.

Misinformation about domestic violence has often led those in the
substance abuse field to behave as though it was an addictions
problem. This can, at times, have harmful consequences for battered
women. Some of the more significant false assumptions are:

* Alcohol abuse or addiction causes men to batter;

* Alcoholism treatment alone will adequately address the

* Battered women are co-dependent (enabling) and thus contribute to
the continuation of abuse;

* Battered women who abuse alcohol must get sober before they can
begin to address their victimization.

While the two problems of substance and domestic abuse often co-exist,
they need to be addressed separately. However, one common denominator
is the fact that relapse prevention is critical to both substance
abuse and family violence.

In recent years, AADAC has trained staff to identify individuals
involved in domestic violence who have concurrent substance abuse
issues. After assessment, staff are better able to determine how best
to address the problem. Treatment can be targeted to address domestic
violence alone or most often in combination with substance abuse.
Complex or multi-pronged approaches to co-occurring problems of family
violence and substance abuse are encouraged.

Many programs have recently been developed with a focus on dealing
with family violence through co-ordinated community action with some
positive results. Solutions definitely require a community of groups
and organizations focused on domestic violence issues.

On the other hand, prevention is a very important aspect in dealing
with substance abuse and domestic violence. Society at large must take
steps in the prevention of domestic violence. Often, prevention seems
not to be as appealing as treatment and may appear to be a very slow
process, but a "shift" towards proactive change is needed if women and
children are to be protected from the devastating effects of violence
in the home. We must aim for less misinformation and greater social
responsibility directed towards prevention.

Prevention is 100 per cent successful. Treatment is only successful
some of the time. Does it not make more sense to focus on the former?

Some thoughts for abusers:

* Do you have a history of abusive behaviour? Intoxication increases
the likelihood and severity of your violence?;

* Getting treatment for both substance abuse and domestic abuse is
most important at an early stage;

* Children from abusive families often repeat the patterns they

Some thoughts for the victims:

* Family violence does not necessarily stop when the abuser stops
abusing alcohol/drugs;

* Using alcohol/drugs to cope with violence is maladaptive and often
leads to more problems and possibly to increased vulnerability to violence.

No one deserves to be a victim! Speak out!

There are programs that can help stop the cycle of abuse and assist
those who have been directly impacted by it. If you have concerns
about domestic violence or substance abuse, please contact Cochrane
Mental Health Clinic.

The National Addictions Awareness Week is Nov. 19-25. The goal is to
ensure that everyone has information and the ability to promote
activities that generate awareness of the dangers of substance abuse
and gambling. AADAC's theme is "Making a difference together",
emphasizing the importance of a whole community working together to
prevent alcohol, tobacco, other drug, and gambling problems. This is a
time to celebrate the joy of an addictions-free lifestyle. It is a
time to get involved! The conspiracy of silence does not need to continue.

Bob Bolduc is an addictions counsellor with AADAC at the Cochrane
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MAP posted-by: Derek