How Drug Addiction Affects Relationships

By: Lakeview Health Staff
Published: March 23, 2021

With the rise of opioid-related deaths 1, more and more families and loved ones are becoming affected and substance use disorder treatment, family intervention, and relational repair are needed. Many times, people concentrate on the psychological and physical effects of drug addiction, overlooking the social aspect and how drug addiction affects relationships.

How Does Addiction Affect Relationships?

Regardless of class, race, gender, or religion, people from all walks of life are increasingly seeking substance use disorder treatment. So many people in the US and beyond have encountered the devastating effects of drug addiction, including the damage to the substance user’s mind, emotions, body, and relationships. The person struggling generally goes on a downward spiral while the people who love him or her the most also suffer as they watch their loved one harm him or herself. This puts strain on those important relationships.

The Damage That Comes From Drug Addiction

Drug addiction destroys relationships. The drug abuser starts to focus on getting and maintaining the drug habit more than anything else which causes neglect in nurturing the relationship. The person will use money that’s needed for bills to support the drug habit, causing financial strain. The drug abuser will also resort to secrecy and deception towards their significant other, family, or friends which can cause the relationship to become distant. Additionally, the person abusing drugs can start developing anger problems. Drugs, such as alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine (crystal meth), and steroids, will amplify any anger management issues if they are present already. The person can also get frustrated at him or herself because of the precipitating factors associated with trying to quit the substance use, which, in turn, will cause even more anger, grief, and low self-esteem. The situation can become an endless, downward spiral until the relationship becomes irreparable. These are just some of the ways drug addiction can affect relationships.

There Is Hope

Nevertheless, with all of these negative effects, there is hope in repairing your relationship with your brother, sister, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, and more. The following are some helpful tips on repairing relationships and understanding how drug addiction affects them:

Stop Dysfunctional Habits:

This is a process so quitting these bad habits won’t happen overnight. Often times, the best way to begin this process is for the loved one and the person on drugs to receive treatment and counseling. There are various options for substance use disorder treatment, including individual treatment and counseling, group counseling, family therapy, and marriage counseling. Also, depending on the level of the substance use disorder, patients can choose from an inpatient rehab program or an intensive outpatient program to battle the addiction and to receive holistic care.

Admit and Strategize:

As with the twelve steps, the first step is an admittance of this toxic relationship. This must be done in order to move forward in recovery and repair the relationship. In order to move forward, you must create strategies to deal with these issues better in the future.

Individual and Group Therapy:

When both of you get the professional help needed to learn from and better understand one another, you will gain the tools needed to build a strong and healthy relationship by learning to set boundaries. This is especially important, as the loved one who has the disease may have sought treatment or professional help, where they start peeling back the layers of the onion to get to the true core reasons of their active addiction the partner often has not done that same inter-personal work required to get and stay clean and sober. Both parties getting on the same page with group or couples therapy is highly recommended.

Couples and Family Counseling:

It’s the same as individual and group counseling. However, it’s beneficial because you two can express and see each other’s thoughts and feelings and have a professional there to assist you through this situation so you two can be whole again. Couples can get sober together. To maintain a successful relationship, it takes work even if drug use isn’t an issue. Substance use disorder just makes it much harder to sustain a healthy relationship. However, if both parties involved work hard by adhering to the steps listed here and those provided in counseling, you will gradually overcome these struggles and move forward to a much brighter future together. Remember, couples can get sober together and marriage can survive a drug addiction.

Irreparable Relationships

On the other hand, there are cases where drug addiction destroys relationships to the point of no return. The relationship has broken down so badly that the distrust, anger, and resentment have reached an all-time high. This could be due to financial losses resulting from substance use, domestic violence issues with the substance user, or a series of other matters. Whatever the case might be, some relationships may be irreparable, and vital steps should be taken to move forward accordingly in this case.

The Bottom Line

Regardless if you can salvage the relationship or not, you must understand how drug addiction affects relationships and that this is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with appropriately. Furthermore, you must ensure you look out for your own needs. If you are in recovery, getting the appropriate support and going through the right channels with individual therapy or group therapy, such as Al-Anon, are some of the many ways you can get the help you need. If you are suffering from addiction now, Lakeview Health is ready to assist you. Contact our intake team by filling out this online form if you or someone you love is in the grips of active addiction.