There’s nothing more devastating and confusing than watching someone you love struggle with substance abuse.

While the unpredictable nature of addiction can leave you feeling helpless, you might be hoping that you can still maintain a relationship with addiction in the picture.

However, addiction can massively impact the brain and social functions, making it extremely difficult to sustain healthy bonds.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the complex dynamics of addiction and its impact on relationships along with guidance and resources to help you find the right support to navigate this journey.

Addicted love

How Addiction Affects The Social and Emotional Dynamics of the Brain

Understanding how addiction works can help you put together why it can’t coexist peacefully with relationships.

First, you need to know that addiction isn’t just a behavioral issue; it’s a complex brain disorder that fundamentally alters the way we think, feel, and interact with the world.

Addiction starts when a person prioritizes the artificial high associated with a drug and becomes almost completely dependent on a certain substance(s) to maintain balance.

Unfortunately, when this happens, the preoccupation with seeking and obtaining the drug often comes at the expense of everything else, including relationships no matter how close they are.

10 Reasons Why Healthy Relationships Can’t Coexist with Addiction

As difficult as it may sound, the impact of addiction on love is almost inevitable, which is why they can’t coexist with each other. Here are some of the reasons behind this statement:

1. Distorted Brain Chemistry

As discussed earlier, addiction can have a serious impact on the delicate balance of brain neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin.

While love is such a complex emotion that involves a wide range of neurological and psychological factors, it’s heavily regulated by the balance of these chemicals in our brains.

As a result, the severe imbalance associated with addiction leads to a diminished ability to express love, empathy, and connection, which makes it incredibly difficult to maintain healthy relationships.

2. Prioritization of Drugs and Neglect of Loved Ones

The obsessive focus on obtaining and using drugs is a defining characteristic of addiction. This often leads to the unfortunate reality of loved ones being neglected and their needs pushed aside as addiction consumes your entire life.

As a result, it’s common for a person suffering from addiction to miss all types of events and social responsibilities, whether they’re errands, chores, or other commitments within the relationship.

This is not exclusive to romantic relationships only, as family members suffering from substance use disorder will often miss significant events like family gatherings and birthdays in favor of obtaining or using drugs.

3. Unpredictable Behavior and Mood Swings

The erratic nature of addiction often manifests in its unpredictability, as it heavily depends on the current state of your loved one.

As a result, it’s common to find them excited and energetic at one moment and uninterested at the other.

The sudden alteration of mood and emotional state is often associated with irritability and anger as well as depression in severe cases, all of which heavily strain relationships.

4. Lack of Mutual Trust

The foundation of any healthy relationship is built on trust. Unfortunately, addiction often erodes this trust through various aspects. Of course, the most common example here is broken promises, as they constantly break their vows to quit their drug abuse.

Another pattern of dishonesty that makes it hard to believe anything they say is trying to hide the extent of their addiction.

Additionally, drug use is often associated with stealing, lying, and manipulating situations to fulfill cravings.

This constant break of trust creates a toxic environment with a lack of emotional security for everyone involved in the relationship.

5. Addiction Encourages Selfishness

Another sad reality of addiction is that for an addicted person, almost nothing is more important than substance use.

Since it has become their primary focus, their family members, significant others, friends, and family are always disregarded and neglected.

With time, this sense of self-prioritization becomes even more vicious and puts more strain on relationship dynamics, as the intensity of substance abuse increases.

6. Emotional and Social Isolation

One of the most common symptoms and signs of substance addiction is withdrawal from society and low self-esteem.

This happens because individuals suffering from addiction try to avoid accountability for their actions, especially with the stigmatization associated with abuse.

As a result, they become reluctant to seek professional help to avoid any potential negative consequences. However, this isolation is often interpreted as neglect, especially in intimate relationships.

7. Increased Risk of Co-Existing Mental Health Disorders

Individuals struggling with addiction are at a significantly higher risk of developing or experiencing co-existing mental health issues. These conditions can be a root cause of the addiction or massively exacerbated by substance use.

These underlying issues can dramatically impact their well-being and make fulfilling their duties in a loving relationship even more challenging.

Co-existing conditions and mental illnesses include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

8. Enabling Behaviors

One of the main challenges associated with combining loving relationships and drug use is enabling. This refers to the act of supporting substance use, whether directly or indirectly, even with good intentions.

This can take many forms, including giving them money to buy drugs, taking over their commitments and covering up for them, ignoring the obvious signs, avoiding confrontations, etc.

While these actions may seem helpful in the short term, they ultimately prevent your loved ones from facing the negative consequences of their actions and finding the help they actually need.

9. Potential for Physical and Emotional Abuse

Lastly, as previously established, it’s not uncommon for individuals suffering from addiction to become abusive when it comes to obtaining their fix. Unfortunately, the lengths they could go to in that situation could be a bit extreme, including physical violence or emotional distress.

Additionally, as the effects of drug abuse start to manifest, such as professional decline and financial ruin, increased stress and arguments between loved ones or family members start to arise.

This escalation can lead to extreme tensions and a remarkably high potential for family abuse and domestic violence.

What to Do If Your Loved One Is Struggling with Drug Abuse?

Despite the hardships of addiction, we naturally want to help and support our loved ones. And the good news here is that navigating this problem can be challenging but not impossible. Here are some important notes to keep in mind on what you need to do in that situation:

Understand That Addiction is Treatable

As we mentioned above, addiction is a disease, not a character flaw. And luckily, it’s also a treatable one with the right approach and attitude.

In fact, treating addiction includes a variety of methods, including several scientifically-based techniques. These include:

  • Detoxification: The initial phase of treatment that focuses on safely managing withdrawal symptoms and purging the abused substance from the body.
  • Therapy and Support Groups: Individual and group therapy can help the person address the underlying causes of their addiction and develop coping mechanisms.
  • Medications: Depending on the specific substance, medical professionals may prescribe certain drugs to reduce the risk of relapse.

Set Healthy Boundaries

It’s also important that you don’t neglect your needs and practice setting healthy boundaries. In fact, this is not only for your well-being but also for the success of your loved one’s recovery, as it can limit the negative impact of some aspects like enabling.

Attending therapy sessions and counseling with your loved one during recovery is a great way to get professional help on how to set and communicate your boundaries with your loved ones.

Seek Professional Support and Focus on Recovery

While your love and support are crucial for the success of addiction treatment, you must remember that you can’t single-handedly overcome your loved one’s addiction.

In fact, seeking professional help during treatment is essential to receiving specialized care and setting up a personalized treatment plan that addresses their own challenges and underlying causes.

Professional treatment programs utilize evidence-based therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy and allow for a smoother detoxification process, especially for challenging and intense cases.

Practice Self-Care

Supporting a loved one with addiction can be emotionally draining and take a toll on your own well-being, so it’s important to not forget about your own needs in the midst of all this.

Consider seeking medical support and engage in stress-reducing activities that can help you maintain balance and comfort.

Finding the Best Addiction Treatment in New York

The challenges of maintaining a relationship with individuals suffering from addiction are immense. However, with the right type of help, the chances of achieving lifelong recovery become incredibly higher.

If you or your loved one are struggling with drug use in New York, Long Island Interventions can offer a remarkable variety of resources and treatment options to address the problem. Call now to schedule an appointment and start receiving help from field experts immediately!


Published on: 2024-06-11
Updated on: 2024-06-20