A dangerous but common belief is the substance abuse myth, that substance abuse such as; alcohol and other drugs cause intimate partner violence. This is dangerous for many reasons including the impacts it has on abusers, survivors, and society. It is important to know that there are abusers who do not use alcohol or drugs and there are people who use alcohol or drugs but do not abuse. If both are true, why does this myth still exist?


Abusers get an excuse

Abusers blame their behavior on their alcohol or drug use instead of taking responsibility. While alcohol and drugs can impact a person’s judgment they do not excuse violent actions, and they do not cause abuse. Abuse is about power and control (not a loss of control), therefore the abuser will likely not change even if they get sober.

“Just because two things happen together (like drinking and violence), it does not mean that one causes the other.”


Survivors get ignored

Shifting blame onto alcohol or drug use minimizes the abuse, and the person being abused. Sometimes, the abuser will use false promises of sobriety to keep the person they are abusing around (which is just another form of control). This blame shift can work because no one wants to believe that the person they love is hurting them on purpose.


Rationalization perpetuates violent culture

Many people believe that alcohol and drug use cause domestic violence although there is not much information to support this claim. While there is evidence that substance use and abuse happen together, this does not automatically mean substance use causes abuse. It is common to rationalize situations like this, but abuse is not rational and by continuing to believe this false causation, society continues to give abusers an excuse for their behavior.




sexual assault

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, contact The Shelter at 800-931-7233

In an emergency call 9-1-1







The National Domestic Violence Hotline. (March, 2011). Drugs, alcohol, and abuse. Retrieved from: http://www.thehotline.org/2015/03/11/drugs-alcohol-and-abuse/
The National Domestic Violence Hotline. (January, 2014). Blame Shifting and Minimizing: There’s no EXCUSE for Abuse. Retrieved from: http://www.thehotline.org/2014/01/15/blame-shifting-and-minimizing-theres-no-excuse-for-abuse/
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