Alcohol, drugs and domestic abuse

People often think that alcohol and mental illness can cause a person to be violent. Alcohol does not cause domestic violence and abuse, but there is evidence that where domestic violence and abuse exists, alcohol is often present. Most people who are mentally ill are not violent.

Although abusers are more likely to offend when they are under the influence of drink and drugs, these are not the cause of their abusive behaviour. There are many people who drink too much or take drugs who do not abuse their partners or family members. Also many people suffer domestic abuse when the abuser is not under the influence of drink or drugs at all.

Abusers sometimes use drink or drugs as an excuse for their behaviour. Simply saying they were drunk or don’t remember does not take away their responsibility for their actions. Perpetrators who have a drink or drug problem should have both their substance abuse and their abusive behaviour addressed.

Those on the receiving end of domestic abuse may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way of escaping from it. This can then be used by the perpetrator as an excuse for their abuse, claiming they have been provoked by their partner’s addiction. It is important that the people are supported and the abuser held to account for their actions and not excused because of the partner’s behaviour.

Support and information

Norfolk Recovery Partnership
Telephone: 0300 7900 227
Norfolk Recovery Partnership is an NHS community service with Matthew Project and PAPT, offering a range of interventions to support people experiencing alcohol and/or drug problems in their recovery:

  • Support for adults affected by the substance abuse of other people
  • Support and advice about drug and alcohol use
  • Carers assessments to establish whether you need support in your own right
  • Carers groups which provide the opportunity for mutual support and also an opportunity to feedback your views to the service
  • The opportunity to become involved (with their consent) to support the recovery journey of your loved one.

0207 553 7640
Adfam offers guidance for families affected by someone else's drug or alcohol misuse through their website and an interactive map that can signpost people towards local family support groups.

Matthew Project
01603 216 420
Service for young people at risk of drug or alcohol misuse.

Matthew Project Unity Affected Others for Young People
0800 970 4866
The Affected Others is a 1:1 programme offered to young people where they need it (out in the community, home visits etc.) and will go on for as long as they require support.  Young people can self-refer or professionals can refer. It is for young people affected by someone else's substance misuse, aged 19 years and under.

01603 660 070
Specialist support for people 65+.


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