How Substance Abuse Complicates Relationships
A person who is dependent on drugs, alcohol or other substances will likely have difficulties forming and maintaining healthy relationships. This is partially because the effects of their substance use disorder will make it impossible to focus on anything other than their next fix. In some cases, a substance abuse disorder is the result of an attempt to forget about a toxic or abusive relationship. However, this does not mean that someone who is struggling with dependency is incapable of giving or receiving love.
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Addiction Takes Options Away
One of the hardest parts about dependency is that it takes away the ability to focus on anything other than getting that next fix. If your friend or loved one is an alcoholic, it becomes impossible for that person to function without alcohol. Even if someone can fake their way through short interactions, the truth is that their mind is on where that next drink is coming from.
The same concept applies if your friend or loved one is dependent on marijuana, lean or other substances. Ultimately, there is little time or space in that person’s mind to show affection or gratitude toward you, your kids or other close contacts. Although understanding this concept doesn’t make it easier to deal with your hurt feelings, it can give you some important context that might help you navigate a strained relationship.
When Addiction Is Caused By Trauma
It’s not uncommon for addiction to be a symptom of childhood trauma, a sexual assault or a similar triggering event. In such a scenario, an individual is using drugs or alcohol as a method of numbing the emotional pain that the experience caused. In some cases, it may also be used to numb any physical pain that an assault might have caused.
However, the main goal of drug or alcohol use is to forget what happened and try to salvage some sort of peace of mind. Of course, addiction only causes more problems and makes it more likely that an individual will try to push others away whether they necessarily want to or not.
Addiction Can Be Embarrassing
A friend or loved one may feel that he or she is unworthy of love or that you will be better off without that person in your life. This may be especially true if the person who you care about has turned to prostitution or other stigmatized methods of earning money to support a habit.
Furthermore, your friend or loved one may believe that addiction is a personal failing as opposed to something that has many different causes. Therefore, instead of seeking treatment, someone who is dependent on drugs or alcohol may further withdraw and exacerbate the problems related to dependency.
Addiction Can Be Tied to Genetics
Some people become addicted to drugs or alcohol because they have an addictive personality by nature. If they are able to overcome their dependence on drugs or alcohol, they might become dependent on gambling, driving fast cars or other activities that are deemed exciting.
This can be especially confusing for an addict because most people feel as if they should learn from their experiences. However, those who are addicted because they have a genetic predisposition to it may feel as if they are incapable of changing. Ultimately, they may feel as if they’re better off isolating or simply hanging around others who can relate to them.
Not All Health Issues Are Diagnosed
It’s important to note that addicts may also have ADHD or other mental health issues and not even know it. Therefore, without help, they may not even understand why they are dependent on drugs, alcohol or other substances. While it may seem logical to go see a doctor for tests, it may be too expensive or otherwise impractical for someone suffering from addiction to do so.
Your Role as a Friend or Loved One
As the friend or loved one of someone who is dependent on one or more substances, your job is to find the humanity that is still inside of them. Although an addict may outwardly push you away, on the inside they are seeking for unconditional love or approval.
Therefore, your role is to be present in an addict’s life to the extent that it’s practical to do so. For example, you could spend a few minutes each night talking to your friend or spouse about their day to show an interest in their lives.
You could also offer to rent a room in your house or a room in another property that you own. Allowing someone struggling with addiction to get off of the street can be a powerful first step in that person turning their life around.
Of course, you don’t want to leave yourself vulnerable to theft or other negative acts. You also shouldn’t feel obligated to expose your kids or pets to the antics of an unstable person. By creating boundaries, you prevent yourself from becoming too overwhelmed to help while allowing your friend or loved one to decide whether they want to take an opportunity to start on the road to recovery.
Your Help Won’t Be Enough
While you can serve as a powerful ally in an addict’s road to recovery, your strength alone won’t be enough. Instead, it will take the work of a team of professionals to properly diagnose your friend or family member’s condition and implement a plan to overcome the issue.
If your friend or family member is just starting on the road to recovery, an inpatient program will typically be best. This is because initial withdrawal symptoms can be intense and include the urge to self-harm or harm others. Therefore, it’s important to be able to come down with the help and supervision of doctors and others who can help manage those symptoms.
Participating in an inpatient program can also be beneficial because it allows a person to recover free from distractions. Instead of interacting with toxic people or those who enable a dangerous habit, a recovering addict gets to interact with others in recovery. For some addicts, it may be the first time that they don’t feel alone or as if no one understands them.
Working with mental health professionals may also help to find the emotional source of the addiction. It can also help to tear down the emotional walls that might keep an addict from expressing their true feelings. In a matter of weeks or months, you may start to see your friend or family member reengage and start to become the person you grew up with or married.
Recovery Is a Journey That Doesn’t End
A recovering substance user typically spends about 30 days in an inpatient program. However, this doesn’t mean that the journey to recovery ends after rejoining society. Instead, the journey has just begun and will require outpatient rehab services for many years or decades to come.
Therefore, if you are a friend or family member of a recovering substance user, it’s important to keep this person accountable. For instance, staying sober might mean retaining custody of a child or the ability to work on a regular basis.
You can also take solace in knowing that most outpatient rehab programs enable participants to act as sponsors for those who are just starting out. This means that there is always someone for a recovering addict to talk to when times get tough.
If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, it’s critical to understand that they have feelings and want to be loved like anyone else. If you are the one struggling with addiction, it’s important to know that there are people out there who want to see you be happy. Aside from family, friends, or others in your life, the folks at LiveFree Recovery Services are here to help whenever you are ready to make use of it.
Published on: 2023-12-20
Updated on: 2023-12-20