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How Addiction Affects Relationships

How Addiction Affects Relationships

Addiction can take control and destroy everything in someone’s life. This including their relationships with friends, loved ones, and simple everyday encounters with people. Relationships become strained, and addiction can cause the person to lose themselves. When the dependency starts ruling a person’s life it becomes hard for them to keep relationships healthy.

There are many factors that cause the addict to push their relationships with a loved one to the breaking point. Below we discuss the main reasons addiction has ruined relationships time and time again.

Dishonesty & Lies

Addiction takes away one of the critical pillars of maintaining a healthy relationship – honesty. Addicts lie because they fear being judged based on their newly acquired habits. The guilt and shame that come along with this bad habit make matters even worse.

When addiction starts to take control of your life, it is easy for you to start lying about everything in order to maintain the addiction. This includes little white lies that seem harmless but quickly turn into bigger deceptions over time. When these secrets get too big, or the secrets begin pouring out, it causes relationships to end.

Lost Trust

Relationships are built on trust. Without it, relationships will lose their value, ultimately leading to the relationship ending altogether. Addiction degrades a person’s ability to be trusted by others due to lying, cheating, stealing, or any other form of dishonesty.

Relationships then become a minefield of secrets and paranoia. There is no level playing field when it comes to addiction, which makes relationships feel unfair.

Violence and Abuse

The worst way addiction can harm a relationship with through violence and abuse. Domestic violence is a common consequence of addiction, and can even be life-threatening to partners who are not addicts. Violence and addiction go hand-in-hand. Substance abuse leads to aggression that can turn into fights. In certain situations, it can lead to physical altercations and many regrets.

The addiction itself is enough to cause extreme tension and anger. However, when it starts affecting a relationship it can be difficult for that person to control their emotions. They become violent because of uncontrollable urges in the brain. Or, living with someone who exhibits violence as an addiction-induced behavior.


Codependence is a concept that attempts to characterize imbalanced relationships where one person enables another person’s self-destructive tendencies. The addiction is to the other person, where one person in the relationship needs the other. Thus, creating a relationship that is unhealthy for both parties involved.

Relationships are hard to maintain when one person has an addiction problem. This is because they need too much attention from their loved ones. During a codependent relationship, it usually becomes one-sided. This means that the addicted partner is seeking so much attention that the other person is receiving little to none. Healthy relationships should be reciprocal where both parties are giving attention to each other equally.


The term enabling in regards to a relationship means someone whose behavior allows a loved one to continue self-destructive patterns of behavior. Enablers may not even realize they are allowing these behaviors. This happens because they can happen in subtle ways that stay mostly unnoticed.

For example, an enabler might do things like pick up their loved one’s responsibilities so they don’t have to worry about work or other obligations. A common mistake is financially enabling addiction. This allows the addiction to continue because their bills or other responsibilities are paid for.

Another form of enabling addiction is emotional support and reassurance. For example, telling someone who’s addicted that what they’re doing isn’t so bad when it actually is. This can also occur when a parent continues to make excuses for their child who is struggling with addiction, instead of getting them the help they need.

The Reality of Addiction in Relationships

When a person is suffering from addiction, it needs so much attention that it becomes unhealthy for both parties involved in a codependent relationship. This is because they are giving too much to the other person and not receiving enough back. Enabling can happen in subtle ways such as paying bills or helping them with work when necessary. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many people are facing the same battle of being in a relationship with someone who is struggling with substance abuse.

If you are looking for someone to speak to about making the next step in the right direction for your loved one, contact Harm Reduction Center. We are here not only to help with addiction and recovery but give you the tools to help your loved one every step of the way.