When the 70s rock band Nazareth recorded "Love Hurts," they probably weren't talking about addiction, but love can truly hurt with untreated addiction in any relationship. It would be a mistake to look at substance use disorder (SUD) or alcoholism as an individual's problem.
Unless you are directly affected, many people don't always consider the full depth of issues involving drug addiction and relationships. The partners, families, coworkers, and friends closest to those with SUD or alcohol use disorder (AUD) go through much of it with them.
Understand the impact of codependency and enabling.
Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship with a person who has an addiction knows how destructive it can be. All too often, codependent people and their partners with SUD get stuck in a cycle of enabling behaviors.
The concept of codependency and enabling can be challenging to grasp, but the truth is that codependents and enablers are often trapped in a vicious cycle of pain and misery. At the same time, it’s easy to assume that the person with SUD is the only one who suffers.
The truth is that everyone in their lives suffers from the effects of addiction. This is especially true for codependents and enablers, who are often overlooked by the person and left to suffer alone.
Codependency is a dysfunctional relationship between two people where one person supports or encourages another person's addiction. The codependent person often takes on a caretaker role in the relationship, negatively affecting others. The other person may feel trapped by the codependent's caregiving. And this can lead to tension, power struggles, and resentment.
There are also the financial implications of a partner's addiction. It can drain your partner's finances, leading to possible arguments over money. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The list goes on.
Addiction can destroy family relationships and damage trust.
It is not always understood how damaging addiction can be to family relationships. Because most addictive habits start off as "secrets" or something that the family does not know about, it can significantly affect the family dynamic.
The first person within a family to find out about the addiction may feel betrayed, deceived, and lied to. Although behavioral disorders like gambling addiction can have distressful effects on interpersonal relationships, an addiction to drugs or alcohol can make family members feel less safe, mainly if their loved one drives under the influence or cares for young children.
There's an egotistical undercurrent when people have an addiction because, most of the time, they don't see the consequences of their actions and rarely put their family's needs above their own and the substance that owns them. This is a generalization, of course, but family tends to come second in the lives of those with SUD.
Sometimes, the family becomes an alibi or the ones they've elected to beg for pardon for their behavior and unreliability to bosses or other people with authority. The family can sometimes be emotionally abused and even blamed for their addiction.
It's not uncommon for a person with a substance use disorder to do whatever they can to sabotage their family's efforts to get them help. These behaviors can create a lot of tension between family members, and if the right interventions aren't available, they can lead to years of family pain, upset, and concern.
Be cautious of personality changes and don't become a stranger to your loved ones.
People often lose control of their feelings, desires, and impulses when battling addiction. When a person cannot be themselves because they are gradually losing themselves to a substance, it can lead to a loss of trust and resentment in relationships. It can also cause a person to become more withdrawn and antisocial. A person may begin to display character traits that are not typical of their usual self.
Many people report using alcohol to loosen inhibitions and minimize anxiety to be more open in social settings. When controlled, this can be useful. However, it can be disheartening in relationships when drinking becomes problematic, or substance abuse brings out the complete opposite in a person. This could eventually make intimacy impossible with side effects like erectile dysfunction, for example.
A romantic relationship can turn dangerous, or intimacy becomes a rarity for romantic partners. For siblings or parents of a person with an addiction, dramatic personality changes may create devastating effects like distance, discomfort, and loss of respect.
Living with or visiting a stranger—a loved one that no one close to you recognizes anymore because of your drinking or drug use—can eventually lead to loneliness and isolation. This can sometimes result in emotional disconnections rather than physical separation.It becomes harder and harder to love a stranger who was once someone you knew very well.
Your addiction can change your personality in many ways. The more severe your alcohol or drug addiction, the further away from your former self you may become. You may not realize it, but it is common for people not to see themselves the way others do. Because drugs and alcohol are substances able to rewire the brain, the person you were at a point in your life, possibly before the substance use disorder, fades away. You may never be the same.
When it comes to drug addiction and relationships, those with SUD or AUD can sometimes be manipulative and deceitful, especially to those closest to them. You may have mood swings that are unpredictable and unreliable. Change is good in most cases, but this is usually when the change makes something or someone better.
There could be an increased risk of domestic violence or other criminal acts against others.
Most addictive substances have a mind-altering and mood-altering effect. When one cannot control their emotions because of drug use or alcohol abuse, there can be negative consequences. They may become angry, hostile, frustrated, depressed, delusional, manic, and have other psychological symptoms like paranoia.
Because many people with SUD often have a dual diagnosis or co-occurring mental health condition, this is not uncommon. Either disorder can make the other worse, resulting in bouts of unpredictable behavior. Frustration and unhappiness can quickly escalate into aggression and domestic violence in the home.
In different settings, like the workplace, an addicted person could retaliate through property damage or assault. Joyful outings with family or friends can become disorderly. Eventually, people might not feel safe around you or might be embarrassed to go out with you in public.
Support from loved ones is one of your most valuable assets in the recovery process.
Addiction is not your fault. It's nobody's fault. It's not a personal failure, but it's a severe problem. Emotional pain, trust issues, and physical abuse are some of the different ways how addiction ruins relationships. The people closest to you want what's best for you. But they may not know how to keep open communication with you about your addictive behavior or how to get you the help you need.
Before you end up hurting someone you love, talk to an addiction expert about ways to heal the damage of substance use disorder. Counselors and others who can provide professional help are always available.
Recovery treatment facilities like this luxury rehab Wish Recovery can help you mend broken relationships with holistic and evidence-based addiction treatment, including couples counseling and family therapy. Contact someone today.