The stigma surrounding drug addiction can arouse feelings of shame and disgust in the ones you love the most, which would be disheartening for anyone — not the least someone in the vulnerable position of being addicted to drugs. Substance use disorders often compromise a person’s ability to communicate, eroding their relationships and putting them further at risk. It can also be a financial burden, a bad influence and a powerful cause of resentment, so seeking treatment is imperative. Help from a qualified counselor for the afflicted individual and the people closest to them is the best way to work through any unresolved conflict or resentment. Underlying feelings you’re not fully conscious of might be driving you and your families’ actions, and drug rehab can be the ideal starting point for getting the professional guidance you need.
How Drug Addiction Affects a Relationship When UntreatedDrug addiction is rarely something that impacts only the person with the problem. For this reason, it’s gained a reputation for being a family disease. How badly it affects your relationship usually depends on how close you are and how well you communicate. Sadly, as with most matters of the emotions, people tend to lash out the most at the people they care about most deeply. If the household you live in has a lack of healthy boundaries and you all struggle to communicate openly and honestly, it’s even more imperative you seek medical attention. Lots of individuals who abuse drugs live in an environment where people regularly argue, make excuses or punish each other for acting in specific ways instead of having discussions. If this sounds familiar, there’s no need to panic! You and your loved ones can learn to release how you feel constructively.
Ways Addiction Can Impact Your Various RelationshipsSubstance use disorders can put a financial strain on a relationship, especially parents and spouses. However, addiction often drives the sufferer to borrow money from any source they can find, including friends, siblings and acquaintances. Money and health are usually the main catalysts that drive conflict as family members struggle to comprehend how you can have such a blatant disregard for the most important aspects of your life. Addiction affects each relationship in your life uniquely, and it’s too easy to lose sight of the multitude of ways your behavior directly impacts the people you love. From your children to your friends, it’s not just your well-being you’re putting at risk. Here are some of the ways drug addiction affects a relationship, and some tips to help loved ones of an addict cope.
PartnersHusbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends and partners usually get the toughest deal when it comes to addiction. They’ll either try to shoulder the financial, emotional and parental burden or get frustrated and upset constantly pushing the addicted person to behave as they should.
Tips for Partners
- Try to avoid arguments with your other half. If they become belligerent, count to 10, take a deep breath and walk away.
- Encourage them to seek professional help. Don’t try to counsel them yourself under any circumstances, but lend an ear to listen if they talk about how they feel.
- Don’t throw judgments around or tell them what to do; it’ll make it harder to get them to listen to you.
ChildrenIf someone struggling with drug addiction has children, they’re often the ones who suffer the most. Not only does it set a bad example, but it means you’re prioritizing drug taking over their well-being. Children naturally blame themselves for everything, so you must seek therapy for kids who are exposed to drug addiction.
Tips for Children
- Never feel shy to seek information or tell people how you feel. The better you understand addiction as a disease, the easier you’ll find it to make sense of your parent’s behavior.
- Don’t blame yourself when bad things happen. Some things are beyond our control, but there is a solution for pretty much every problem.
ParentsSubstance use disorders pose a particular challenge for the parents of adult children. On the one hand, you can’t turn them into babies again and force your will on them; on the other hand, giving them too much of your time and attention might enable the addictive behavior. The best action to take is to encourage them to attend a treatment program at drug rehab.
Tips for Parents
- Don’t catastrophize! It might feel like the end of the world, but it isn’t. If you continually fear the worst, it only raises anxiety and provides fuel for the addiction.
- Remember that no one is at fault when it comes to addiction; it’s the result of a wide variety of factors, and blame serves no purpose.
SiblingsYounger siblings are often affected by addiction in a similar way to offspring, making them particularly vulnerable. Adults must keep teenagers and children in the loop, not hide the truth and give them in-depth explanations — or they risk glamorizing the illness.
Tips for Siblings
- Just because someone you’re related to is addicted to drugs, it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. It’s a condition that’s arisen for reasons beyond their control, and they’ll need plenty of help and support to take hold of the wheel again.
FriendsIf you’re lucky enough to have a support network that includes lots of friends and acquaintances, consider yourself privileged. These people will give you the encouragement you need to get better. However, if you don’t maintain your friendships, you’ll risk losing them.
Tips for Friends
- Give a friend who’s suffering from a drug addiction plenty of space, but let them know you’re there for them. Never give them money or access to drugs, but make it clear you’re willing to talk to them about anything they desire.
- If you’re worried about a friend, speak to a trusted member of their family and try to devise a plan to get the sufferer into rehab.