Let’s tackle drugs during domestic violence awareness month

Marijuana-induced psychosis leads to domestic violence

Domestic Violence Awareness month comes around each year in October.   Violence prevention groups would gain ground by targeting drug use and alcohol abuse, which trigger most cases of domestic violence.

Too many people are still deceived by the image of the laid back pot smoker.  A significant subset of stoners become psychotic and violent from using marijuana.   Davie Dauzat, who beheaded his wife on August 25, 2016, told the police it was a  “battle between good and evil.”  He and his wife had smoked pot together before he killed her.  Dauzat  was having the type of psychotic break that overwhelms certain pot users, leading them to commit acts of violence.   A similar event happened to Tyler Denning on March 25, when he jumped from a 4th floor window clutching his son.  He had smoked marijuana that day and claimed that God had made him do it.

Substance abusers cause more than 80 percent of domestic violence, according to estimates.   Some reports say drug and/or alcohol abuse is involved at least 92 percent of the time.

Marijuana, classified as a hallucinogen, can cause fear, anxiety, panic or paranoia. Experiencing any of these symptoms can lead to intimidating, violent or bullying behavior, endangering family, other people and property.

Advocacy groups against gender-based violence will continue to stumble, unless they also target substance abuse which triggers it.*  Widespread mental health issues will also continue to grow in America, as long as we fail to acknowledge the cannabis connection.

Stop Violence Against Women

“Marijuana use should be considered as a target of early intimate partner violence intervention and treatment programming.”  Researchers from the University of Florida came to this conclusion, and a number of recent studies back up their findings .

The Relationship Between Marijuana Use and Intimate Partner Violence in a Nationally Representative, Longitudinal Sample,”  by Jennifer M. Reingle, Stephanie A.S. Staras, Wesley G. Jennings, Jennifer Branchini, Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, May, 2012.  (Consistent use of marijuana during adolescence was predictive of committing intimate partner violence in early adulthood and being a victim, 2 x more likely.  Sample of 9,400).  Prior studies also found that any marijuana use is predictive of victimization and physical assault by their intimate partners (Moore et al., 2008; Nabors, 2010; Railford et al., 2007).

Effects of marijuana use on impulsivity and hostility in daily life, by Emily B. Ansell, Holly B. Laws, Michael J. Roche, Rajita Sinha, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 148 (2015) 136-142. January 6, 2015.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep. 2014.12.029/   (A Study of 43 subjects found marijuana, but not alcohol, use increased interpersonal hostility and impulsivity in daily life.  The events occurred on day of use and the next day, and were measured by Smartphone assessments. )

Violent Behavior as Related to Marijuana and Other Drugs, by Albert Friedman, Kimberly Glassman, Arlene Terras, Journal of Addictive Diseases, Vol 20(1), 2001,pp. 49-72. (Marijuana users are nearly as likely to engage in violent behaviors as crack users)

As a nation, we are turning a blind eye to the damage marijuana users may present to women and children.  Some women’s groups are too concerned with male bashing, and they can’t see the forest for the trees.  We need to stop underestimating the poor judgment, the violence and warped sense of time common to many marijuana users, including women..

Studies also show connection to child abuse

Groups charged with protecting children should try to prevent neglect and trauma is by targeting drug and alcohol abuse.  National Alliance for Drug-Endangered Children targets this problem, and their last conference had a number of presentations on marijuana.  Parents Opposed to Pot has traced 96 deaths related to caregiver pot use since the vote to legalize pot in 2012.   Once again, studies back up these findings, and policy makers should recognize the connections.

Examining the relationship between marijuana use, medical marijuana dispensaries, and abusive and neglectful parenting, by Bridget Freishler, Paul J. Gruenewald, Jennifer Price Wolf,  Child Abuse & Neglect  (2015)  http://dx.doi.org/10/1016/j.chiabu.2015.07/008/  (A telephone survey of 3,023 in California cities concluded that current marijuana use correlates to child physical abuse but not neglect, and abuse is more widespread closer to dispensaries.)

Alcohol and drug disorders among physically abusive and neglectful parents in a community-based sample, by K Kelleher, M Chaffin, J Hollenberg, and E Fischer. American Journal of Public Health, 84 (10) pp. 15861590, (11,000 people with substance abuse problems: abuse-3x more likely, neglect-4x. Substance abuse is involved in 50-80% of child abuse according to this study.)

What happens to abused children?

In turn, abused children are more likely than non-abused children to become substance abusers.  Characteristics of Child Maltreatment and Adolescent marijuana Use: A Prospective Study, by Howard Dubowitz, Richard Thompson, Amelia M. Arria, Diana English, Richard Metzger and Jonathan Kotch, Child Maltreatment.    Physically abused children are at special risk to become heavy pot users in adolescence.

Another study, from Denmark, investigated the children most likely to become violent or commit suicide.  Compared to other troubling parental traits, including alcoholism, parental marijuana use created a larger percentage of violent children .

Jesse Osborne, age 14, killed his father a year ago, and tried to kill three others at an elementary school.  An investigation into the  background revealed that the dad had used marijuana and committed acts of domestic violence.

In order to stop the cycles of domestic violence and child abuse, we must first stop the substance abuse.  Parents should recognize the right of children to live without substance abuse in the home, and quit pot, other drugs.   In fact, Domestic Violence Awareness month should tie into drug and alcohol prevention programs.

The Family First Prevention Services Act will fail without a commitment to help parents stop abusing drugs, including cannabis. Educating the public about the connection between marijuana, psychosis and violence could stop many cases of violence in the home.


*This statement refers to physical violence, not sexual harassment.  However, those worried about unwanted sexual advances should stay clear of substance abuse to protect themselves.