5 Ways Substance Use Affects Relationships

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on May 17, 2021.

When someone is struggling with addiction, they are not struggling alone. Family members, friends, partners and colleagues may also be affected in various ways. Drugs can cause a lot of strain, confusion and distress, and addict behavior in relationships can range from challenging to destructive. Here's a look at five of the ways drug use can impact relationships.

1. Codependency

If a loved one or partner develops an addiction, you may be eager to help them. But when you're in a codependent relationship, one of you is enabling the other to not be their best self. Codependency can take the form of:

  • Constantly trying to please someone.
  • Trying to fix your loved one's addiction for them.
  • Losing yourself in your loved one's addiction and problems.
  • Making excuses for the addiction.
  • A lack of accountability.

Healthy relationships are built on interdependence. Individuals can have their own sense of self within a relationship while maintaining a strong emotional bond.

2. Lack of Trust or Intimacy

When a person is struggling with substance use, their addiction often takes priority over everything else. They may lie and even steal to obtain drugs, and physical withdrawal symptoms can make quitting feel impossible even when they want to. After many failed declarations and forgotten promises, it can be a challenge to build and maintain trust and intimacy.

3. Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

Studies have shown that substance use is present in 40 to 60% of IPV incidents. The consequences of this co-occurrence are serious, ranging from physical and emotional trauma to death. Therapies and treatment that address both the substance use disorder and the IPV can help. If you or are a loved one are in an IPV situation, reach out for help as soon as you can.

4. Financial Struggles

Addiction can cost up to several thousand dollars a month to maintain depending on the substance. That money has to come from somewhere, and it may be borrowed or stolen from a loved one. It might also come from funds earmarked for expenses such as food, utilities or rent.

Drug use can become so detrimental that one may lose their job, or get a DUI or be in an accident — which could mean legal expenses.

5. Emotional or Mental Health Struggles

Any one of the issues outlined here can put a strain on a relationship. In many cases, substance use combines them. You or your loved one may resent having to take care of everything around the house. Constantly worrying about a loved one is tiring in itself.

Addiction can cause deep emotional distress, anger, fear, confusion, anxiety and depression — and all of these emotions can take a toll.

Let Diamond House Detox Help You and Your Loved Ones

Substance abuse and relationships can be a toxic mix. At Diamond House Detox, we can help you or your loved one take a step towards sobriety and healing. We use evidence-based methods to provide care with a focus on substance use and mental health. Contact us today to learn more.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet