Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 6/15/2021
Addiction Hurts Relationships
Far too often, we see addiction as solely the individual’s problem, but it is important to understand how drug addiction affects relationships. When addiction ruins marriages, it’s often slow and painful. Leaving married couples on the brink of divorce without hope for reconciliation. It can cause tension in the home and influence a range of negative behaviors. If you’re here reading this, it might be your marriage or relationship that addiction is destroying. You’re going to want to understand the dynamics of addiction and how to get help.
So what do you do when addiction is ruining your marriage? Loving someone who is addicted can be heartbreaking. Addiction can create a ripple effect that influences behaviors in the family that you may not have experienced otherwise. You may tend to judge that person, but proper support is one of the key ways to see real change. Addiction’s far-reaching influence means that supporting the addict includes supporting yourself.
Getting your loved one healthy is a team effort, and we can help you find the resources to do it. Do not hesitate to give us a call today at (888) 906-0952. We can answer your questions about rehab and give you much-needed support!
Life as the Spouse of Significant Other of an Addicted Person
Being married to an addict can be a lonely and complicated journey. Often, spouses in this situation face a double-edged sword. You may feel torn between being stern about treatment and showing the addict unconditional support. Addiction ruins marriages sometimes quickly, or sometimes slowly but surely.
It is important not to push your needs aside and accept harmful behaviors just because you love that person. Substance abuse can take substantial time away from your marriage as addiction causes the addict to prioritize the “high”.
This cycle of behavior can create a heavy distance between you and your partner that may feel overwhelming. Another tragic effect of addiction is the risk of abuse. You may find yourself constantly arguing with the addict, and for some couples, this can become violent.
You may end up feeling resentful of the person you married. Remember, addiction is a disease that influences every aspect of an individual’s life.
Addiction-Related Codependency in Marriages and Relationships
Finally, another consequence of addiction is the risk of those around the addict developing behaviors that prolong the problem. When this occurs that is called enabling. You may start to enable the addict by loaning them money to avoid an argument, even when you know it is being used to feed their addiction. According to Wexner Medical Center here are the three negative results of enabling:
- It takes away learning experiences that addicts need to choose to change.
- It allows addicts to remain dependent on enablers (sometimes a parent/child relationship) rather than acting as independent, mature adults.
- It helps people continue in addictive lifestyles because someone else always takes care of things and rescues them from the consequences of their choices.
Enabling is often a consequence of the guilt you may feel when witnessing your loved one struggle with addiction. You want to help, but the help lacks the necessary boundaries. It is important to recognize enabling behaviors in the relationship and nip it in the bud before it becomes codependency.
Codependency is when one person is so entangled in the life of someone else that the person loses his or her identity and sense of self-worth. Codependency can quickly become a toxic cycle of people-pleasing. It is also a harder issue to fix than enabling because it is a psychological bond. Codependency negatively impacts the addict and their loved ones and can also contribute to the addict taking longer to find help. With the toll addiction takes on relationships, it is natural to attempt to place the burden on your shoulders, but you must remember that self-sacrificing only ultimately harms everyone in the process. Fortunately, this vicious cycle does not have to last forever. There is support for both you and your loved one.
The Truth about Addiction and Relationships
What makes addiction so difficult to deal with? We all have battles to fight, and often relationships have a way of bringing our internal issues to light. Dealing with other people is not easy regardless of the circumstance and often requires great compromise, compassion, and mutual respect. Unfortunately, addiction often adds to the normal ups and downs of a relationship. Addiction has very real impacts on family, coworkers, and spouses.
It can add additional stresses and pressures to relationships that can seem unbearable. Things like finances because obviously addiction is expensive. Or issues with mood swings, inability to help with responsibilities, or not being there emotionally, physically, or mentally. It can sometimes feel like you’re alone in the marriage.
Addiction’s Impact on the Family
Family members are often the first to feel the weight of addiction. Addiction left untreated can have devastating effects on the home and especially on children. You may find that an addicted parent is neglectful or preoccupied, which unfortunately does not go unnoticed by the family. The household may pick up coping mechanisms for the addict and even enable the addict. All of which strengthen the vicious cycle addiction creates.
The National Institutes of Health(NIH) found the following link between addiction and family relationships, “Family members may experience feelings of abandonment, anxiety, fear, anger, concern, embarrassment, or guilt; they may wish to ignore or cut ties with the person abusing substances. Some family members even may feel the need for legal protection from the person abusing substances.”
Unfortunately, the addicted person may become isolated from their family due to the strain addiction places on the household. The saying birds of a feather flock together also applies here. Often, an addicted person may want to associate with people who encourage their behavior, which can distance them from their families.
How to Get Support for Your Marriage or Relationship
Firstly, if your husband, wife, or partner is struggling with addiction seeking treatment for them is a must. You can always call us with questions about treatment at (888) 906-0952. We will discuss your situation with you confidentially.
If you’re looking for a treatment center for your spouse or partner, tt is a great idea to have a clear understanding of the issues you want to be resolved. If your partner is having problems letting go of drinking and drugs, that may be something you seek professional help for. It is important to realize that the issues addiction can cause often leave scars on the marriage even after recovery. The process of healing takes time. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) states the following,
“Many couples are both surprised and disappointed that they continue to have many fights and arguments after the substance abuse has stopped. If the issues in the relationship are not treated, they can set the stage for continued conflict and, in turn, relapse to drinking or drug use. Thus, lasting recovery from substance use depends, in part, on making the relationship better- this is where marriage and/or family therapy can come into play.”
Whether the addiction started before or after vows were exchanged, being married to someone in recovery is not easy. Luckily, if you take advantage of professional resources, you can take the steps necessary to heal your marriage and any of the scar’s addiction may have left you with.
Plus, in seeking counseling or treatment, you learn how to love yourself and your partner in a way that prevents harmful consequences from reoccurring. Showing up for your addicted partner does not look just one way, and you can work with professionals to determine what makes the most sense for your unique partnership.
DO’s and DON’Ts of Supporting an Addicted Spouse or Partner
Now let us take a look at the best and worst ways to support the addict in your life. When looking to help a friend or family member, these tips can serve as a guide.
- Inform yourself about substance abuse and addiction.
- Speak up and offer support: discuss your concerns, while you offer your support and help, reiterate your willingness to go with them and get help. The earlier their addiction is treated, the better.
- Express your love and concern: you do not want to wait for your loved one to “hit rock bottom.” It is common for you to be met with excuses, anger or denial. It helps to be able to respond with specific examples of the behavior that has you concerned.
- Understand that the person will not be expected to truly quit without help. Remember that you cannot rely on empty promises. Treatment, support, and new coping skills are the only solution proven to overcome drug and alcohol addiction.
- Understand that recovery is an ongoing process: once your loved one is actively receiving treatment, or showing up to meetings, stay involved. When you continue to show support during treatment, it allows the addict to see that you truly care about their long-term recovery.
- Avoid the urge to preach, lecture, threaten, bribe or describe their behavior as “right” or “wrong”
- Do not self-sacrifice: emotional attempts at getting the person to stop may actually only increase any guilt the addict feels and feed the compulsion to misuse substances.
- Avoid the tendency to lie, cover-up, or make excuses for the addict’s behavior.
- Do not assume this person’s responsibilities: this behavior only shields them from the consequences of their actions.
- Do not argue with the addict while they are under the influence. This person is not in the proper state of mind to have a rational conversation, so it would be futile to attempt one.
- Stop and remember not to feel responsible or guilty for your loved one’s behavior. Their battle with addiction is not your fault.
- Do not join them: do not fall into substance abuse yourself by trying to keep up with your loved one.
Fight for Your Marriage or Relationship: Don’t Let Addiction Ruin It.
If you feel like addiction is creating problems in your relationship, it is time to seek help. Understandably, you may feel like you don’t know where to turn and don’t know where to start. Like any disease, addiction should be treated as soon as you recognize that there is a problem. Drug addiction can cause rifts in your marriage, in your family, and your social circle. If you or your loved one are being impacted by addiction, we can help. Give us a call as soon as possible, and we can help you find treatment. This is not a battle you have to fight alone. Call today at (888) 906-0952.
Have questions about drug and alcohol treatment? Submit this contact form and we’ll be in touch!
About the Author
Meccah Muhammad is a writer for ABTRS, graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in Public Relations. She enjoys the process of content creation including researching important topics and using the information to empower and educate others. Her other passions include music, traveling, and trying new foods.
 https://www.aamft.org/Consumer_Updates/Substance_Abuse_and_Intimate_Relationships.aspxPage Breakhttps://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/are-you-enabling-the-addict-in-your-life
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