How Substance Abuse Harms Relationships

How Substance Abuse Harms Relationships


Drinking heavily and doing drugs are casual habits that can quickly become uncontrollable. For couples, spending a night “blowing off steam” can turn into a devastating cycle of abuse, anger, resentment, and violence. Here is how to know when drinking or drug abuse is damaging your relationship, and what you can do to stop the problem.

How to Know When Substance Use is a Problem

People who drink or do drugs excessively suffer severe health problems that include depression as well as serious physical illnesses. Although treatment for substance abuse focuses primarily on the addicted person, those who are closest to that person suffer too.

When substance abuse becomes a problem, the sober or non-addicted partner is often the first to know — and the first to take the abuse. Stopping the descent into addiction is possible— especially when steps to address the addiction are taken early.

You may not notice your loved one drinking in the morning or exhibiting other common signs of addictive behavior, but you may begin arguing more about substance use. This often occurs when one partner stays out too late or ignores important responsibilities. If you have worsening money problems, that can also indicate addiction is a problem.

Feelings of resentment begin increasing, especially if one partner has to make excuses for the other’s behavior, such as missing work because of drug or alcohol use. Violent or aggressive behavior, isolating yourselves to hide addiction, and relying on drugs or alcohol to relieve stress or to express deeply hidden feelings are all signs that substance abuse is an ongoing problem.

Helping Your Relationship

Even though your partner may deny that drinking or drug use is affecting your relationship, you can still get help. There are many support programs that help struggling family members deal with a loved one’s addiction.

In many cases, these problems help a fed-up partner get their loved one into treatment for chemical dependency. Although this may help your loved one quit using alcohol or drugs, it may not completely address the underlying issues in your relationship. With couples therapy, partners identify and begin to resolve the problems that often contribute to substance abuse.

Finally, people who struggle with addiction and who receive treatment are more likely to sustain sobriety if they have adequate support from caring family members. Support from a loving partner can make all the difference in the world when it comes to healing the damage caused by addiction.

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Posted on July 10th, 2014 in Help Blog

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