Addiction and Relationships: The Hard Truth About the Impact of Addiction

Addiction and Relationships
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The strength of personal and romantic relationships is truly put to the test in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse. 

Marriages—or other, long-term, committed relationships—and substance abuse don’t mix. If your partner drinks too much, the effect is felt by his or her spouse and children, friends, relatives, and coworkers. 

Many would argue that, aside from the drug abuser, the abuser’s partner often pays the highest price. 

Keep reading to learn the hard truth about addiction and relationships. 

How Addiction Harms Relationships

There are a handful of signs that drinking or drug abuse by a significant other is causing harm to their relationship to the point where intervention from a treatment professional is needed. 

We Understand Chronic Relapse

We understand how many times you’ve tried to get your loved one help. The difference with us is that we have the time, expertise and concern to help your loved one recover. Find Freedom

The Following Signals Are Common Warning Signs Seen in Couples Where One Partner Suffers from a Substance Abuse Disorder

1. Secrecy

If your partner begins to use drugs or alcohol excessively, they may not be open about it in the beginning. They may feel guilt, shame, and fear of judgment. If they feel that others won’t support them or understand their situation, they can turn to secrecy. They may lie to their loved ones about:

  • Who they are with
  • Where they are
  • Why they’re behaving differently
  • The events of the day
  • Why money is missing

It’s possible that secrecy will increase until the person is in complete isolation—distancing themselves from everyone they love. Secrecy can ruin relationships. This puts an immense strain on any romantic or other personal relationship. 

2. Differences Between Fact and Fiction

With secrecy comes increased lying and deception, so it’s only a matter of time until a loved one begins to notice the differences between fact and fiction. 

If your partner is lying about abusing drugs, it’s understandable to form trust issues due to the perceived lack of respect, honesty, and dedication from your partner.

Even in a healthy relationship, honesty and trust are key. Reduced trust usually leads to other issues such as anger, jealousy, fear, and resentment.

3. Anger and Violence

As a relationship deteriorates due to drug and alcohol abuse, anger and violence often emerge as concerns. Frustrations are high—even more so if someone is using a substance known to cause aggression. These situations become dangerous fairly quickly.

If you live with an addict, you’re at greater risk of victimization. You may experience an increase in frustration that leads you to express anger or act out violently against your partner. 

It’s important that anyone experiencing domestic violence in their relationship contacts a domestic violence hotline. 

4. Enabling

Sometimes loved ones will transition into an enabler when trying to help their loved one recover from substance abuse. 

Enabling behaviors include: 

  • Accepting blame
  • Making excuses
  • Taking on responsibility for the behaviors, feelings, and actions of your addicted loved one
  • Working hard to minimize their negative consequences

An example of enabling is offering money to the user on a consistent basis that they can use to buy drugs. He or she may ask for money for bills, gas, or groceries, but the money goes to drugs. Often, the loved one provides the money anyway, but they must draw a line to get the attention of a loved one who is addicted to drugs.

5. Codependency

Codependency is similar to enabling, but codependent individuals often get involved in relationships that are one-sided. They may feel overwhelmed by their partner’s needs but have an overwhelming sense to take care of that person.

Codependent People:

  • Are willing to compromise their own wants, needs, and beliefs to keep their significant other or loved one calm and content
  • Control others because they don’t think they can function independently without them
  • Are very cautious and aware of the emotional changes of others
  • Maintain commitment and loyalty to their loved one despite a lack of reciprocation
  • A codependent person needs the substance abuser as much as the addict needs the codependent. 

Their entire identity may become consumed by the feeling to serve or sacrifice for their partner while acting to fulfill their own needs for attachment and closeness. 

Codependent relationships often walk hand-in-hand with enablement—as the caretaker will often try to cover for the addict or resolve their issues instead of allowing their loved ones to face the consequences of their actions.

Not all couples will show these warning signs, but if one of them is present in your marriage or relationship, it may be time to consider ways to make the relationship better. 

In most cases, drinking and drug use must stop to identify and address the problems within the relationship. You may think these issues will resolve themselves over time, but that’s rarely the case. The best thing to do is to get treatment for your loved one as soon as possible, or at least contact a recovery center to discuss how they may be able to help. 

Can Treatment Help Your Relationship?

Many treatments can be effective in reducing—if not eliminating—problems with alcohol or other drugs. Some recovery centers focus on individual counseling, while others prefer group counseling or both. 

As your loved one is in treatment, there are also support groups that can offer solace during this difficult time. At least you know you’re not alone in the fight to battling your partner’s addiction. 

If your partner has a problem with drugs or alcohol—and you want to be with this person—getting him or her to enter treatment is the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship.

What Happens to Your Relationship During Treatment?

Involving partners in treatment—at some point in the process—can be essential in helping treatment succeed. 

Sometimes, couples are surprised to find that they’re still fighting after the substance abuse has stopped. It’s vital that problems in the relationship are addressed during recovery. Relationship issues don’t just go away when drinking or drug use stops. 

If relationship issues are not treated, conflict can and will return. This could lead to a relapse in drinking or drug use. So, lasting substance use recovery depends, in part, on a better relationship. 

Stop Chronic Relapse

We use time and expertise to remove resistance from chronic relapse. Traditional, 30-day treatment does not work with chronic relapse. Learn why our approach is different and works. Find Freedom

Addressing Addiction and Relationships in Recovery

Preventing an addiction may be impossible, but loving and observant partners often recognize the signs of substance abuse before anyone else. 

The truth is, juggling addiction and relationships is a truth many loved ones must face. If you have cause to suspect a substance abuse problem, you should confront your partner without judgment or a tone of confrontation. This will give them an opportunity to come clean before submitting to professional treatment. 

We’re here to help you talk to your significant other about achieving lasting sobriety. For more information, call 877-389-0500 or contact us here to learn more about our programs.

Find Recovery, Not Just Sobriety.

7 Responses

  1. I don’t know how can I help my partner fight with his addiction we been having problems in our relationship as well and I’m scared to lose him I want to make him better but I don’t have many choices we’ve been together for almost 2 years now can someone please give me some advice ?

  2. Leave the relationship. I thought my partner was sober and gave him an ultimatum that it was me or drugs 6 months in to our relationship- he “chose me”. 8 years into the relationship he revealed he never stopped using and has just hid it from me using calculated lies, smoke screens, deception. I loved him and trusted him more than anyone in the world. Sad truth- active addiction is stronger than love. You will be ok without him.

  3. I’m so sad and miserable. I’m a therapist and work in substance abuse and dropped my parter off at rehab bc it was his choice, I’m very proud of him. He got out and moved in with his parents, I am pro that or a sober living house, I saw him once and gave him the biggest hug ever. I asked about his dogs, I was taking care of bc he didn’t get out of bed for months, he promised I would see them again snd him again. I texted once about meetings in the area my clients prefer. There hasn’t been much communication since then. I wish he would give me the chance to be a support system, I am so in love with him I would never drink again if we were a part of each other’s lives again.

  4. Hello Anonymous,
    I am in the same boat. My husband and I are married a year. There were lies in the beginning, I believed them. He was recovery, but lied about how long. Many other lies came out, they are still coming out.
    Anyways, the past year has been a struggle for me as his wife. I have never been around an addict very much. I have family members that are addicts, but never been around them any length of time. So I jumped head first into something I had no clue about.
    With any woman, you have this instinct to take care of your loved ones. No matter what, you want to help them while they are sick. So when he was so drunk, I would help him. Months of taking him to get detoxed, helping him while he was drunk, hiding his drinking, and catching him drinking (“when he was sober”) was doing him worse. I found out I was enabling his drinking and his behaviors while drinking. I even found out just a little bit ago, I was a codependent. I was doing more harm for my husband than hutting.
    At the beginning of the year, I told my husband, “if you drink again, I will have to leave”. I love this man so much, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave. This is why it still took me months to finally leave my husband. I continued to give him chance after chance.
    I finally had to leave. There is a lot more to this story, but I finally left. I assured him, I was not going to divorce him and I was not going to find anyone else. I would not come back to him until he got help. Really got help.
    He went to rehab 2 months ago, and the program is a year long. I miss him terribly, but this is what is best for my husband. He is learning how to put God first and deal with his addiction. He still has a long road, but there is progress every time I see him.
    My advice, sit down and look at your situation. You have to set boundaries and keep them. You may have to start small. My first boundary was not to help him when he is drinking. Then it went to no alcohol in my presence. Just no drinking didn’t work with him.
    That made him think if he drank outside, then could get away with it. I had to change it. No alcohol at all around me. If he drank it, it would be in his system. Then the alcohol was still around me.
    If you say you will leave, leave. It will be hard, but keep it. He has to be held responsible for his actions. With the help of God, your loved one will get help.
    Please do not think “if he loved me he would choose me”. The addict part in his brain can’t. My husband loves me and truly tried. He just needed help. He needs help to learn how to live life with out turning to substance. He needs to learn how to deal with his past without it triggering his addiction.
    This is a hard road. I would not want anyone to deal with this. You will get through this. Turn to God, praise him in this time, and keep your eye on only God. He will get you through it.

  5. My partner was an addict and we were together for 3 years it was cannabis and alcoholic I left him because I couldn’t cope anymore. He come back a year later and promised change and just gained a new cocaine addicted but because we weren’t living together the second time, he was good at hiding it for a while and I asked him outright and he lied to my face on a number of occasions.. they have to want to change you can’t force it. All you can do is support them. But if your Mh isn’t great and they don’t wanna change you need to go. Save yourself anymore emotional damage.

  6. My husband is a heroin addict. I found out a year ago. I don’t want to give up but I am at my breaking point. All my trust is gone & our love has faded. I find myself now just angry, sad & alone. I feel like I keep bending over backwards to support him but don’t feel any support on my end. I feel empty. He has been using since 2016 & hiding it very well (functional addict) but it all started catching up to him a year ago where he wasn’t functional. Basically I just want to know if I keep going with my marriage & we try to overcome this what should I know? anything I should do for myself? Or us? To get support for myself & us as a couple? I know the answer to leave but I am not going to leave yet so that’s why I ask.

  7. I have recently kicked my partner out who is addicted to crack cocaine. He hid it so well for a while but I started to find paraphernalia and the more I looked the more I found. Until one day he just started to blatantly smoke in front of me. This was it.
    I’m broken hearted. I can sleep; I can’t eat much. I am just trying to plod on through my life but every day I just feel empty.
    I was a co-dependent. In total in denial and at one point making excuses to friends so they wouldn’t think less of him.
    Now he hates me. He’s angry. He is begging outside shops near my home; he sleeps at the top of my road. It’s a constant reminder of the person that I love has gone. It’s like I am grieving. A pain I never wanted to experience and one which is going to take time to heal from.
    How do others cope with this?

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Drew McLaughlin

LPC-A, LCDC | Counselor
Drew McLaughlin serves as Counselor for Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for helping advance the Burning Tree philosophy of love, service, and excellence, Drew blends clinical expertise with over twelve years of personal recovery experience to assist the client community in realizing their own “life of excellence beyond sobriety.” As a Burning Tree Ranch graduate, Drew feels privileged to get to help others find freedom from the bondage of addiction. A team member since 2013, Drew holds a Masters Degree in Professional Counseling from Amberton University. He is most proud of being a sober father, husband, son and brother.
Dr. Leslie H. Secrest | Medical Director/Psychiatrist

Dr. Leslie H. Secrest

Medical Director, Psychiatrist
Dr. Leslie H. Secrest serves as Medical Director and Psychiatrist at Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for helping uphold the organization’s commitment to excellence, Dr Secrest believes in a holistic approach to treating mental health and addiction. Specializing in Adult Psychiatry, Addiction Medicine and Psychotherapy, Dr. Secrest is board-certified by both the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Preventive Medicine / Addiction Medicine. A native of Dallas, TX his numerous awards and recognitions serve as a testament to his 20+ years of service in the field of medicine.
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ACADEMIC CURRICULUM
INTERNSHIP
UNDERGRADUATE/MEDICAL SCHOOL
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PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES
HONORS, AWARDS AND DISTINCTIONS
Peter Piraino

Peter Piraino

LMSW, LCDC | Chief Executive Officer

Peter Piraino, LMSW, serves as Chief Executive Officer for Burning Tree Programs. Responsible for executing the vision of Burning Tree’s philosophy of excellence, Peter’s primary goal is to help as many clients as possible gain access to the treatment they need. A clinician by training, Peter incorporates sound, ethical business practices to help inform the organization of its duties to the greater community. By placing the needs of his staff and company ahead of his own, Peter leads with a team approach that continues to inspire the mission of Burning Tree Programs. A proud father, Peter and his wife count five dogs amongst their family members.