THE BLOG
09/29/2014 07:06 pm ET Updated Nov 28, 2014

It's Not Only About Domestic Violence

It's about violence in general and it's about substance abuse! I do not know Ray Rice, his wife or anyone associated with recent incidents in the headlines. I do, however, recognize a common thread that connects acts of violence across this country. Kind, caring, wonderful people do things under the influence that they would never dream of doing when they are thinking clearly. There are very few reasons why people would be fighting in a hotel elevator at 4 am. Most likely: stupidity as a result of over ingestion of alcohol or perhaps other mind altering substances.

Anger management training is a good idea -- assuming the primary quiver in the training arsenal is effectively addressing the substance abuse issue.

Our prisons are packed with individuals who committed acts of violence while under the influence and our streets and many of our homes are unsafe, not because people are bad but because their thinking is impaired in response to the abuse of alcohol and/or other drugs.

I have known and worked with thousands of young people who have suffered at the hands of an abuser and/or committed acts of violence while under the influence. Many were incarcerated as a result of their actions. To a person they wanted to be contributing members of society. Provided opportunity and support a significant percentage of these precious young people came to understand the importance of health and wellness -- including a life free of mind altering substances -- and accepted the challenge to develop the life skills and gain the education necessary to succeed in the workplace while also becoming leaders and problem solvers in their communities.

Is what Ray Rice did despicable? Yes! Did the NFL get it wrong? Absolutely! Should we condemn Mrs. Rice for standing by her man? Maybe not. Perhaps the Ray Rice she knows is a kind caring individual when not under the influence. Can this sad incident cause us to ask why acts of violence occur, why they are commonplace? Do we have the courage to admit that substance abuse is often the culprit? And that it must be acknowledged and effectively addressed? I hope so. I know this subject well. I have experienced abuse resulting from 'under the influence' impaired thinking...