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Alcohol has damaging effect on unhealthy relationships

Bridges alcohol and drug treatment chief executive officer Sharon Sarah says while alcohol plays a role in domestic violence, it's not the root cause.
Bridges alcohol and drug treatment chief executive officer Sharon Sarah says while alcohol plays a role in domestic violence, it's not the root cause. Mike Knott

A BUNDABERG psychologist who leads an alcohol and drug treatment service has highlighted the effects these substances have on unhealthy relationships, but says they are not the root causes of domestic violence.

Bridges chief executive officer Sharon Sarah said while the link between the violence and alcohol and drugs was indisputable, the relationship between the two was far more complex.

"While alcohol is involved in many cases of domestic violence it is ultimately not the cause of the violence," she said.

Ms Sarah said domestic violence was used to exert power and control over another person.

"Blaming alcohol and drugs on violence is an attempt to rid oneself of the responsibility by blaming it on the effects of alcohol," she said.

"However alcohol does increase the likelihood that domestic violence will occur, is usually involved prior to an assault and puts women and children at greater risk of serious injuries and significant harm."

Ms Sarah said research identified the amount of alcohol was not always a factor and, in many cases, the perpetrator only had two drinks before becoming violent.

She also said there was evidence that suggested the violence was planned prior to consumption.

"When both people in a relationship drink alcohol to excess this spells disaster," she said.

"But again the problem is not the drink, but the relationship itself and/or individual factors in each of the partners involved.

"There are plenty of people who enjoy a drink or two and don't resort to violence."

In families where problematic alcohol use and violence was present, Ms Sarah said this led to many other issues such as psychiatric or psychological problems, physical health problems, housing and employment issues, financial problems and social isolation.

"These are complex issues but the myth that alcohol is the cause of domestic violence needs to be challenged and if it is contributing to violence in the home then professional help is out there," Ms Sarah said.

Bridges provides services for people who wish to address their alcohol or drug use and for those affected by someone else's use.

 

Bridges

If you are suffering mental health, drug or alcohol problems, call 1300 707 655.

Topics:  alcohol domestic violence relationships respect rebuild



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