What to Expect When You’re in a Relationship with a Drug Addict

You can’t bring up the topic of drugs without hearing a story about how it ruined someone’s life. That is because it is true, drugs ruin every aspect of a person’s life. Drugs, alcohol, and the compulsive behaviors brought on by their use, destroy everything, including romantic relationships. 

Being in a relationship with a drug addict can be difficult. In fact, you may not even know that your partner is abusing drugs. Drug addicts are conniving and are very good at hiding their addiction. 

Even individuals who think they are hiding their addiction do not remove the impact the drug use is having on their relationship. Emotional, financial, and domestic issues are common in relationships with drug addicts. The love for drugs can overpower people’s love for their partner and make it hard to sustain the relationship. 

Codependency is a common issue when you are in a relationship with a drug addict. When a person using drugs has a codependent loved one, it can make it harder to quit. A codependent loved one can hinder treatment by making it difficult to adhere to a post-treatment plan, leading to relapse and the destructive behavior drug use brings.

Are You in a Relationship with a Drug Addict

Drug addicts can be either really good at hiding their addiction, or very bad at hiding their addiction. If you are questioning whether your partner is abusing drugs or not, then it is worth looking into. If addiction is caught early enough, you can prevent the devastating effects that destroy relationships.

Several signs may indicate a drug addiction in your partner. Some of these include:

  • Money spent that can not be accounted for
  • Going out alone for extended periods of time, frequently “meeting a friend” or doing a quick errand
  • Coming home acting differently 
  • Often times not feeling well in the morning, having symptoms of withdrawal – nausea, vomiting, fatigue, sniffles
  • Change in sleep patterns – staying up all night could be a sign of stimulant use
  • Change in eating habits – a person on stimulants may not eat for days
  • Getting sick every time you are on vacation or away from home for a few days

All the signs can suggest your partner is using drugs. Still, it is extremely important for your relationship, not to make assumptions. You must bring up the subject in a kind and compassionate manner. If your partner is using drugs, they may get defensive if they feel attacked. And if your partner is not using drugs, they could become offended. If you are unsure about approaching the subject with your partner, an addiction counselor can help guide you in the right direction.

The Drug Addict and the Codependent Relationship

Codependency defines a relationship in which one partner has extreme physical or emotional needs (the drug addict), and their partner who spends most of their time caring for those needs. A codependent person will cause themself suffering from caring for their partner. A codependent relationship can make it easier for the addict to keep using without the threat of losing their loved one.

Symptoms of codependency can include:

  • Low self-esteem – A codependent person may not feel loved outside of their relationship. They depend on the opinions of others to feel their self-worth.
  • People-pleasing – The views of others are extremely important for codependent individuals. They can not say “no” to anyone because if they do, they may not like them.
  • Caretaker. A codependent person may not feel complete if they are not taking care of someone. They may even risk their own mental and physical health to care for others.
  • Unhealthy boundaries. Codependent individuals may not have a sense of boundaries with themselves or others. They may feel responsible for other’s feelings or manipulate people to feel secure.  
  • Obsession in relationships. Their relationships define a codependent person. They become obsessively focused on their partner, but the relationship lacks emotional intimacy. 

Codependent people often have enabling behaviors. These enabling behaviors encourage the addict to continue abusing drugs. People may not realize they are an enabler and even deny that they are codependent or helping their partner maintain their addiction. 

Enabling behaviors include:

  • Avoiding problems to keep the peace
  • Denying there is a drug problem
  • Using drugs along with the addicted partner
  • Making excuses for the addict
  • Handling all of the addict’s responsibilities 
  • Feeling in charge of or superior to the addict
  • Controlling the addicted partner
  • Believing the addiction will get better on its own 

The Dangers of Codependency

When you are in a relationship with a drug addict, you both may experience a variety of dangerous effects. A study published in Science and Collective Health shows that there can be serious implications of codependency. Not only to the family dynamics but to the health of the codependent themselves. Some of these risks include:

  • Increased risk of addiction
  • Losing relationships outside the codependent relationship
  • Falling behind on personal responsibilities to cover the addict’s responsibilities

Codependency can lead to neglect of oneself, which can result in depression, low self-esteem, and a variety of health issues. But for the person struggling with addiction, the codependent relationship can have severe consequences on potential treatment and its outcome. The codependent relationship is an enabling influence in the addict’s life. 

When you are in a relationship with a drug addict, you want to help them. At the same time, you fear that if they seek treatment and get sober, they won’t need you anymore. As much as you dislike the chaos of life with an addict, you sabotage your partner’s chance of getting sober. 

A study in the International Journal of Culture and Mental Health states that this can be a risk if treatment is sought. The codependent individual is dependent on the addiction to hold the relationship together. If the newly sober partner returns to a dysfunctional codependent relationship after treatment, it can lead to relapse. For this reason, codependence should be covered in an addiction treatment plan. 

Treatment for Codependency and Drug Addiction

Because of the dangers mentioned before, when you are in a relationship with a drug addict, it is vital for both of you to seek treatment. There are treatment programs that can help both partners of the codependent relationship. Substance Abuse and Misuse’s study shows that working with loved ones of the addict to modify codependent behaviors has lasting effects. 

If you are in a severe codependent relationship with a drug addict, it can be extremely beneficial to seek treatment for yourself. Psychiatric and substance abuse professionals can provide behavioral and individual therapy to help:

  • Increase self-image
  • Define needs 
  • Set goals

You will also learn to set boundaries, which will increase your sense of self-worth, deeper emotional intimacy, and healthier relationships.

Setting Boundaries When In a Relationship With a Drug Addict

Learning to set boundaries when in a relationship with a drug addict is crucial for you and them. Setting boundaries can help build a healthy relationship and help both partners recover from the damage a codependent relationship creates. And hopefully, treatment will also result in a sober relationship. 

Some of the steps to drawing boundaries include:

  • Learning that having needs separate from your partner is ok
  • Understanding personal emotions
  • Setting limits on your behavior as well as others
  • Recognizing and pursuing your own needs
  • Respecting other’s boundaries as well as yours

By both partners establishing boundaries, you increase the chances of sobriety. You will learn what to expect when you are in a relationship with recovering addicts. 

Emotional Intimacy When You Are in a Relationship with a Drug Addict

Intimacy is one issue that drug addicts struggle with. People who are in touch with their emotional intimacy tend to be healthier and happier without using drugs. Once a drug addict starts to build an intimate relationship with their emotions, they tend not to crave them anymore. If your partner is rooted in addiction, they do not have a close relationship with themselves. 

When topics like emotional health, past traumas, caretaking, and compassion come up, drug addicts may not know how to respond. This is not due to ignorance. This is because they lack the ability to see these things in themselves. Not knowing how to respond can lead to emotional outbursts. 

This is extremely difficult for relationships. Having a simple conversation can trigger the addict and cause emotions of anger. Talking about boundaries can feel like an attack causing the addict to get defensive and start an argument.

Trust When You Are in a Relationship with a Drug Addict

Lying and trust issues are prevalent in every relationship that involves a drug addiction. Drug addicts will tell every lie in the book to cover up their drug use. All the lies make it very difficult to trust them. 

Your partner may have to leave the house several times a day to “score” drugs. Every time they go, they come up with a lie. Some of these lies are so elaborate it is obviously a lie. Or if they are trying to cover up being “dope sick,” their stories become so believable you begin feeling sorry for them and forget your suspicions of drug use. 

In the eyes of the addict, they have good reasons for lying. They may be trying to protect you from getting hurt or want to feel free to use drugs without judgment. The cycle of chronic lying can cause multiple problems in a relationship. 

Love and Drugs in a Relationship

When you are in a relationship with a drug addict, they will think they love you, but they will love the drug more. PsychCentral explains that a relationship with a drug addict is not a healthy one, and it is dysfunctional as well. 

Addicts do not actively choose drugs over their partner, but the dependence on the drug requires them to choose drugs over their partner. No amount of love, romance, or intimacy can replace the feeling and craving of the drug. Every action in the relationship will be to satisfy the needs of the addiction. 

If you try to “solve the problems” by giving the addict negative feedback like lecturing, blaming, or criticizing, it can cause the addict to use even more. Communicating with an addict can be difficult. It is essential to educate yourself on their addiction and what treatments are available. An addiction professional can help educate you and can even help stage an intervention. 

Learn More About Being in a Relationship with a Drug Addict

Even with the best intentions, being in a relationship with a drug addict can destroy the relationship and damage yourself as well. No matter how much you love someone, you can not want something for them more than they want it for themselves. Codependency and drug addiction go hand-in-hand and can be destructive to the relationship. 

Our caring professionals at Unity Behavioral Health are waiting to help treat the addiction and codependency that developed. Whether you are looking for advice on talking to your partner about addiction or seeking treatment for your addiction, we are waiting to take your call. Today is the day to find freedom from addiction and the unhealthy relationships addiction caused. Call us today and start the journey to recovery. 

 

References:

www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10826084.2016.1223134

scielosp.org/article/csc/2016.v21n1/101-107/

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