“You can never work with addictions in isolation”: Addressing intimate partner violence perpetration by men in substance misuse treatment

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Background Studies have shown rates of IPV-perpetration among men in substance misuse treatment at rates far higher than the general population. There is poor evidence for the effectiveness of IPV perpetrator programmes. Methods An analysis of drugs and alcohol policy documents 1998–2015 was conducted using discourse analysis to examine how English drug and alcohol policy has addressed IPV among substance misusers. Transcripts of interviews with 20 stake holders were analysed thematically. Results How policy ‘frames’ IPV-perpetration among drug and alcohol misusers has implications for service provision. IPV has increasingly been framed in terms of its implications for child safeguarding, and has been ‘folded in’ to policies targeting Troubled Families. With increasing ‘localism’ in English drug and alcohol policy there has been little specification of services for substance misusing IPV-perpetrators. Policy and literature produced by IPV perpetrator and victim organisations has framed IPV-perpetration as an individual choice with intoxication as a post hoc excuse for violence with limited implications for effective service development. Interviews with stake holders indicate a range of understandings/explanations for IPV among substance misusing men. Stake holders suggest that not all staff have the confidence or skills to ask men about their relationships and that there are few referral routes for substance misusing men who seek help for their IPV perpetration. Conclusion There are gaps and contradictions in the extent to which English drug and alcohol policy has sought to address IPV-perpetration among substance misusers. Recent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance provide an opportunity to include domestic abuse training for all front line social care staff including in the substance misuse sector. There is a need for further research into effective services for substance misusing perpetrators and the development of training for front-line staff.




Radcliffe, P., & Gilchrist, G. (2016). “You can never work with addictions in isolation”: Addressing intimate partner violence perpetration by men in substance misuse treatment. International Journal of Drug Policy, 36, 130–140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.03.010

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