Services to Addicted Persons and their Families

Published on November 17th, 2011

Summary

While the state and federal governments provide funding for services and support for victims of domestic violence, very limited funding is available to address the behavior of those who commit the violent acts.  Addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling often exacerbate family violence, as they can heighten anger, impair judgment, and increase the amount of force being used.

Conference Position

The Catholic Conference recommends increased funding for programs that break the cycle of addiction and domestic violence by addressing the behaviors of those who abuse, including funding for counseling for compulsive gamblers, alcohol and substance abusers.

Rationale/strong>

Children and their families are a priority concern for the Catholic Bishops of New York State.  The Conference believes that social policies must support and preserve families as the primary social unit in the development of children.  All families experience difficulties and challenges from time to time.  At those times the availability of services to assist with mental health or alcohol and substance abuse problems is critical.  The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) conducted a two-year analysis of the effect of alcohol and substance abuse on child welfare services, finding that children whose parents abuse drugs and alcohol are three times more likely to be physically or sexually assaulted and more than four times more likely to be neglected than are children of parents who are not substance abusers.  CASA estimated that parental substance abuse and addiction is the leading factor in 70-90 percent of all child welfare spending in 1998—about $10 billion nationally.

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence reports that 95% of all documented cases of adult domestic violence involve female victims and male abusers.  Children also suffer from domestic violence, including physical and sexual abuse and negative consequences of witnessing the abuse of their mothers.  Domestic violence is one of the most serious public health and criminal justice issues facing our communities today.

In 1992 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops directly addressed the problem of domestic violence in their pastoral statement “When I Call for Help.”  In it they state their desire to “offer the Church’s resources to both the women who are battered and the men who abuse.  Both groups need Jesus’ strength and healing.”

In addition to treatment and help for victims, the state should be investing in treatment and counseling for abusers, and prevention at an early age.  The U.S. Bishops state that we must “teach children from the earliest ages that abuse is not appropriate behavior.”  Education against alcohol, drugs and gambling is all part of this prevention process.

The Catholic Church encourages all that nurtures and strengthens family life.  Accordingly, more coordination and collaboration is needed to replace fragmented individual programs with those that emphasize concern for the whole family.

You can download this document, Services for Addicted Persons and Their Families, in PDF form.

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