The effects of substances on human physiology are numerous and diverse. Chemical reactions produced by the injection of foreign drugs can change the personal mood, elicit strong emotional responses, and provoke physical reactions. In many cases, people who use drugs lose control and inhibition. Although not necessarily substance leads to criminal activities, drug-induced violence is a known phenomenon. It is especially relevant to families where the least control is exercised over the conduct of spouses. It is also established that different substances provoke diverse reactions, which cause different kinds of violence. Understanding what physical changes are caused by the consumption of particular drugs is essential in ascertaining the probability of a certain type of domestic violence.
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The first substance, which will be under focus is cocaine. It is a stimulant drug, which means that its use leads to an increase in brain activity, bodily functions, energy, and alertness. Johnson et al. (2016) have conducted a study into the effects of cocaine on sexual desire. One of the major results is that “cocaine administration caused dose-dependent increases in sexual desire” (p. 9). However, a much more dangerous effect was that “cocaine administration significantly increased ratings of cocaine craving” (p. 11). This implies that people succumb to the desire for substance and sex over time.
Sexual abuse is therefore the subsequent consequence of exposure to cocaine. This correlation is evident in the study of cocaine’s influence on the prevalence of sexual abuse in families by Regier et al. (2016). Cocaine-dependent males exhibited signs of increased alertness, heightened sexual arousal, unacceptance of denial, and proneness towards physical coercion. Lorenz (2021) reached similar conclusions, specifically about the lower sexual inhibition under the influence of stimulant drugs, which included cocaine. Ultimately, cocaine negatively impacts self-control, the absence of which leads to the increased likelihood of sexual abuse.
The next substance is similar to cocaine in that it also functions as a stimulant – amphetamine. As with all stimulant drugs, amphetamine has a direct impact on the central nervous system, causing an increase in energy. The problem with amphetamine consumption lies in the addiction and uncontrollable behavior due to high doses. Addison et al. (2020) note that “prolonged heavy use exacerbated mental health issues”. In essence, the longer people consume amphetamine, the more likely they are to be stressed, anxious, depressed, and other conditions, which in their turn can lead to extreme emotional outbursts.
If the anxiety is accumulated inside a family, emotional breakdown may take the form of physical violence. Whereas cocaine provokes domestic violence by evoking sexual arousal, amphetamine can make an abuser violent during its active stage or between the uses. Actually, periods of time between the doses are the most dangerous because of the anxieties, discomfort, and irritation, caused by the withdrawal syndrome (Addison et al., 2020). Any marital conflict may aggregate the already unstable mental state of the abuser, who may engage in taunting, threats, beating, and other expressions of aggression. The active phase is also risky as the hyperactive brain interprets disturbances as threats and may force the abuser into physical action.
The third substance, which will be analyzed is probably the most infamous one – heroin. Its function is different from amphetamine and cocaine in that it generates a calming and euphoric effect on the body. While under the effect of this substance, abusers are not likely to act aggressively or engage in violence (Cicero et al., 2017). However, once the effect evaporates, the person who used heroin starts to feel anxiety as is the case with amphetamine. Due to extremely high addiction to heroin, abusers are forced to seek new doses in order to sate their amplified need for endorphins.
Unlike other drugs, which cause an aggregated state of mind, heroin-dependent abuse is not the result of direct substance consumption. Being a depressant drug, the heroine actually has a calming and euphoric effect on the person. However, due to its high addictiveness, consumers crave more doses. Heroin is an expensive narcotic, which makes acquisition the most problematic aspect. Subsequently, addicts are driven to engage in financial abuse, where they use familial money to obtain drugs (Cicero et al., 2017). The stronger the withdrawal will be, the less consideration they will give to finances and domestic opinion. Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that heroin addicts are most likely to abuse their families financially.
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The fourth substance is also a significant cause of violence and abuse, although it does not have as much negative reputation as highly destructive narcotics. Alcohol’s effect on people is different to the point that some people may become increasingly agitated and energized, while others may experience a soothing effect, which lowers their otherwise energetic and loud demeanor. Subsequently, there is no single reaction for all individuals, which would be expected from drinking a certain beverage (Jose & Cherayi, 2020). Alcohol abusers may engage in violence during the active phase similar to amphetamine, as well as during the aftermath stage, which resembles withdrawal from heroin and cocaine.
Therefore, the most definite effect on the family would be psychological. If alcohol consumption is an issue in the family, there will be a certain level of anxiety and apprehension. The longer the addiction is a problem, the more psychological pressure is put on family members. Each time the abuser drinks alcohol, they intoxicate themselves with the feeling of high at the expense of familial comfort (Jose & Cherayi, 2020). What follows is the sequence of conflicts, which may result in physical abuse. However, emotional damage is the primary characteristic of families with a history of alcoholism.
Naturally, all four substances can lead to different types of abuse. First, all of them cause addiction, which raises the problem of craving for more doses. It may result in financial strain on family finances because of the increased acquisition. Second, all substances may lead to sexual abuse because the libido is also affected. Third, physical violence may also erupt even in the case of highly arousing cocaine since the highly energized brain needs a release, which does not necessarily take the form of sex. Finally, any substance abuse leads to substantial familial psychological pressure. Nevertheless, for the purpose of simplification the characteristics of drugs and abusers, it is easier to make the following linkages. Cocaine makes people sexually aroused, which leads to sexual abuse. Amphetamine energizes the central nervous system to engage in physical violence. Heroin withdrawal leads to the craving for more doses at the expense of family finances. Finally, alcohol consumption leads to the build-up of emotional pressure. Overall, there is no guarantee that substance consumption will provoke abuse, yet, each of these drugs has a history of domestic violence.
Addison, M., Kaner, E., Spencer, L., McGovern, W., McGovern, R., Gilvarry, E., & O’Donnell, A. (2020). Exploring pathways into and out of amphetamine type stimulant use at critical turning points: A qualitative interview study. Health Sociology Review, 1-16.
Cicero, T. J., Ellis, M. S., & Kasper, Z. A. (2017). Increased use of heroin as an initiating opioid of abuse. Addictive Behaviors, 74, 63-66.
Jose, J. P., & Cherayi, S. J. (2020). Effect of parental alcohol abuse severity and child abuse and neglect on child behavioural disorders in Kerala. Child Abuse & Neglect, 107(104608), 1-8.
Lorenz, T. K. (2021). Sexual excitation and sex-linked substance use predict overall cannabis use in mostly heterosexual and bisexual women. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 1-11.
Regier, P. S., Monge, Z. A., Franklin, T. R., Wetherill, R. R., Teitelman, A., Jagannathan, K., Suh, J., Wang, Z., Young, K., Gawrysiak, M., Langleben, D., Kampman, K., O’Brine, C., & Childress, A. R. (2017). Emotional, physical and sexual abuse are associated with a heightened limbic response to cocaine cues. Addiction Biology, 22(6), 1768-1777.