How Drug Abuse Affects Relationships


Drug abuse can affect relationships in a variety of ways, but one thing is for sure: it will affect them. Even if addiction as such hasn’t fully developed yet, the toxic dynamics could very well be already in place.

Since the family represents the first group in which relationships are established, the association between family and relationships in general, will often be made. Whether they were present and loving or not, it is in that very first group, the family, that we acquire transcendental cues to later relate to the universe, others but also to ourselves.

Addiction can also happen to somewhat healthy families because it is not an issue of good or bad, guilty or innocent. Among other things, it involves dynamics in relationships that can either block or enable the progression of the illness. However, it is also true that a toxic environment added to other potential risk factors will be the perfect combination to result in drug taking or addictive behaviors.

Also, you can both explore the emergence of the illness as well as its impact because at some point, one feeds into the other: you can better understand how drug abuse impacts relationships by understanding how relationships enable abuse or addiction and vice versa.

The obvious effects

Anger, pain, isolation, mistrust, shallowness, loss, sadness, increased substance use or addictive behavior, tension, conflict, among others.

The not so obvious: some of the cycles

  • Isolation can lead to greater use, which leads to more isolation then more use and so on.
  •  The drug use of one person motivates the use of another person.
  • Without the presence of addiction, it seems like there is nothing left in the relationship, so we stay addicted.
  • An individual fulfilling the other’s needs makes it unnecessary for that other to become self-sufficient, which might make it apparently unnecessary to stop using drugs or behaving addictively.
  • Having an addict in the family becomes a convenient reason to turn to that member, instead of yourself.
  • The person behaving addictively or using drugs shows surprisingly similar characteristics than the family or close ones– control, persecution, anxiety, anger, shutting down, somatic issues, etc. Coincidence or enabling pattern?
  • And all of it at a painfully high cost.

The most urgent relationship to take care of is the one you have with yourself. Then you will be in much better terms to heal with those around you…whether you are on the consuming end of addiction or not.

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