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Three Ways Addiction Affects Relationships

Addiction and substance abuse can have a myriad of negative impacts on your life; it exacts a heavy toll on your physical and mental health, it siphons away your money and resources to feed itself, and it puts a strain on even the strongest of relationships. A lot of the literature on substance abuse and addiction tends to focus on the negative health consequences of addiction, and rightly so, as addiction can be deadly, but the social consequences of addiction are important to address as well. It’s why many addiction treatment programs emphasize repairing relationships with those who have been harmed through someone’s addiction. A strong support network is key to recovery, and building and maintaining that foundation requires accountability. Here are three ways that addiction affects our relationships.


Breaking Trust 

Many who struggle with addiction tend to be cognizant of their problems whether or not they consciously acknowledge that. This often manifests in feelings of shame or guilt, leading the person struggling with addiction to hide their substance use from partners, parents, friends, and co-workers. This secrecy, and the lies used to maintain it, erode the bonds of trust that exist between people. When trust is broken, they’ll feel that they are unable to rely on, or be vulnerable with the other person. Trust, once broken, can be incredibly difficult to rebuild, but with time and dedication, it can be done. Addiction treatment can include family therapy to help facilitate this. 


Enabling Behaviors

Substance abuse and addiction can lead the person struggling to develop codependent relationships. While this is certainly not always the case, it is common in relationships with addicts. The reasons for this are twofold: first, as substance abuse becomes a stronger force in someone’s life, people may end up enabling an addict while trying to help them. For example, someone may give their partner struggling with addiction money to buy drugs/alcohol in order to alleviate their withdrawal symptoms. Feeling needed by their partner can repair the damage addiction does to the relationship in the short term by making them feel closer to their partner, even as addiction further erodes the relationship in the long term. The other reason codependency may develop is a fear of losing their partner. In order to keep their partner happy with them, someone may end up enabling their addictive behaviors instead. 


Violence and Abuse

It’s important to be clear with this one: struggling with substance abuse and addiction does not make somebody an inherently violent or abusive person. Rather, substance abuse and addiction are risk factors for domestic abuse. What this means, is that according to data from the National Institute of Health (NIH), around 50% of abusers struggled with substance abuse. The reasons for this are complex. Many drugs, especially alcohol, lower inhibitions, including those towards violence. Others, like methamphetamines, can cause paranoia and erratic behavior, potentially causing one to lash out physically. Withdrawal symptoms can lead the person struggling with addiction to place their blame on their partners, especially if they refuse to feed their addiction. 


If you or a loved one are dealing with addiction, and your relationship is suffering as a result, help is available. Sunshine Behavioral Health offers a host of different treatment options, and we are committed to working with you to help you recover from addiction. Click here to learn more, and get help today. 




Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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