Drug addiction does far more than just impact people’s bodies and minds. In fact, it touches every aspect of their lives, including their relationships. Addiction puts a strain on the trust, respect, and effective communication important to positive relationships. Furthermore, the effects of addiction can include financial or legal trouble and health issues, all of which damages the ties someone has with family and friends. Naturally, the impact of addiction on relationships is felt most deeply within a marriage or partnership.
Addiction and Relationships
One of the biggest impacts of addiction on relationships is seen in cases of codependency. Codependency is an emotional or mental reliance on someone else, particularly when addiction is present. It is always an imbalanced, unhealthy relationship when codependency is present. While most often present in marriages or partnerships, it also appears in relationships between other family members. For instance, codependency can arise between parents and their addicted children.
One member of these relationships, the enabler, relies on their manipulator to feed them emotionally and provide their self-worth. The enabler will do anything and everything to appease and satiate the other person, even at the expense of their own mental and emotional wellbeing. For instance, one partner may financially support their partner’s drug habit to help them avoid withdrawal symptoms. Or people may have a legal opioid prescription that they allow their partner to abuse because they want to keep them from seeking the drug illegally.
Someone who slips into a codependent relationship will often display some or all of these signs:
- Low self-esteem
- An inability to say no or deny their partner anything
- Fear of abandonment
- Feelings of guilt when advocating for their needs
- A need to receive their partner’s approval
The Family Dynamics of Enabling Addictive Behavior
With addiction and relationships, those caught up in the orbit of an addiction can easily become enablers. That is certainly true in cases of codependency. However, for a variety of reasons, enablement could also show up in anyone near to an addiction.
Two of the most common enabling behaviors are denying that a loved one has a problem and making excuses for the drug use. Related to this is pure avoidance. Some family members or loved ones prefer to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist. They may not go about denying it, but neither will they do anything to address it. This example of enabling behavior is often driven by fear rooted in the societal stigma and illegality that pervades drug use.
Family dynamics are liable to shift in ways that coddle the addicted person or else attempt to assimilate the addiction into the family structure. While understandable, addiction will always wreak havoc on healthy family dynamics. Instead of accepting or denying an addiction, affected family members should do everything they can to connect their addicted loved one to professional support. They should also refuse to accept guilt or feel like they must solve their loved one’s problem for them.
The Effects of Addiction on Relationships
Neither codependency or enabling behaviors will do anything to solve an addiction or aid someone in seeking the help they need. The effects of addiction on relationships are widespread and always negative. In addition, the longer an addiction continues, the more likely it is to have one of the following effects on nearby loved ones:
- Other family members may take up drug use or even develop an addiction themselves as they have seen it become normalized
- Lost, broken, or irrevocably damaged relationships within or outside of a family unit
- Family members may struggle to perform basic responsibilities and things like academics or job performance are likely to suffer
Unchecked, addiction causes untold damage to relationships. Yet even in cases where serious damage has been done, healing is possible. Find out how high-quality addiction treatment can transform your family and heal your addicted loved one by calling 833.641.0661.