Do men who abuse drugs perpetrate more relational violence? According to a new study of men who were receiving treatment for alcohol misuse, they do. “Importantly, male perpetrators’ antisocial characteristics predicted increased stimulant and cannabis use, which in turn predicted higher frequencies of physically aggressive behaviors toward their female counterparts,” said Richard E. Mattson of Auburn University. Mattson, the lead author of a new study on male aggression in intimate partner violence added, “These findings suggest that individuals higher in antisociality aggress more frequently in part because they are more inclined to use particular illicit substances.”
Mattson and his colleagues from VA Boston Health Care System, Harvard Medical School and the University of Maryland examined 181 couples in which the male partner was currently receiving treatment for alcohol abuse or dependence. They assessed the men for anti-social behavior, drug use, alcohol use and aggression. They measured the female partners for the same factors and found that the anti-social behavior in the men directly led to illicit drug use, which in turn led to violence. “In addition, they found that sedative use and stimulant use by male perpetrators’ partners was associated, respectively, with their receipt of psychological and physical aggression.”
This finding was significant because the team realized that drug use in women and men both accounted for increases in aggression at different levels. “We also replicated the finding that higher stimulant usage uniquely predicts more frequent IPV across levels of aggression severity.” They said, “It is possible that the pharmacological effects of stimulant intoxication and/or withdrawal lead to alterations in mood such as irritability, anxiety, and paranoia; to psychotic symptoms; or to shifts in information processing involving memory, problem-solving, and perceptual-motor speed that may escalate otherwise benign exchanges into severe and potentially violent conflicts.” The team hopes these results will support the need for further examination of the effects of drug use on intimate partner violence, particularly in men with alcohol use issues.
Mattson, R. E., O’Farrell, T. J., Lofgreen, A. M., Cunningham, K., & Murphy, C. M. (2011, August 29). The Role of Illicit Substance Use in a Conceptual Model of Intimate Partner Violence in Men Undergoing Treatment for Alcoholism. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025030
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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