In this article, we explore how drug addiction can harm a relationship with a loved one, be it a friend, partner or family member.
In the UK in 2019, just under 3,000 people died from misusing drugs. Substance abuse and drug addiction can have a devastating effect on a person’s livelihood and can cause them to develop physical and mental illnesses.
Additionally, if you’re caught in possession of drugs you could face drug conspiracy charges and prison sentences. These consequences can have a lasting impact on any relationships the addicted or affected person may have.
Because of this, it is important to get help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction. In this article, we take a look at the ways your relationships may be impacted by drugs and addiction…
How Can Addiction Affect Relationships?
UK National statistics found that, in 2020, there were 270,705 adults in contact with drug and alcohol services. Drug misuse and addiction can also quickly erode personal relationships.
Anxiety, hurt feelings and broken trust issues can all be side effects of substance abuse in relationships. These problems can slowly break down a relationship leaving both parties devastated.
For the partner of a drug addict, the risk of imprisonment tends to loom large at all times as their partner’s imprisonment will usually mean difficulty in meeting financial responsibilities, such as rent, as well as emotional distress for any children involved.
Below we explore the different ways in which drug abuse and addiction can harm a relationship and, in many cases, destroy it.
Wherever there is drug addiction, there will also be financial woes. As addiction progresses, the need to find money to fund the habit will be all-encompassing for a user who will lose the ability to make rational decisions. Having blown through what personal funds he or she has, the addict will often turn to theft.
Sadly, the easiest and most accessible victim tends to be their partner. One of the most stressful parts of living with an addict is the need to constantly battle attempts to beg or steal money to pay for drugs.
Addicts will usually become adept at finding out their partner’s financial information, such as debit card pin numbers, as well as locating hiding places for a purse or wallet. Such theft often means that household bills are left unpaid, risking the loss of utilities and possible eviction.
The addict will also use other means to get their hands on cash, including payday loans which will usually not be repaid. This not only damages the household finances but, also, can result in negative credit scoring for both parties.
It can be Isolating
When trying to help a loved one who is suffering from addiction, a partner will sometimes inadvertently enable the behaviour of drug use and abuse by making excuses for them. Whilst this is generally done out of love; it will tend to have the consequence of driving away friends and family members who do not want to be around drug use and the erratic behaviour of the user.
This means that partners of addicts will lose friends and become distanced from family, thereby finding themselves without support. The partner will quickly find him or herself feeling trapped by the addict, having lost their support network, and the relationship will almost certainly end.
A Sense of Resentment
Living with a drug addict is a constant rollercoaster on which both lives revolve around the addict’s drug use and subsequent behaviour. The partner of a drug addict will often find that they lose their sense of self as their life is constantly focused on what’s going on with the addict.
The reality of this is that the partner will stop taking an interest in work, hobbies and socialising as they become increasingly wrapped up in the addict’s highs and lows. There will also be a very real sense of resentment on a daily basis as the partner will find that he or she is doing most or all of the household tasks.
This can ultimately lead to the partner feeling like an unpaid servant rather than a valued partner. This is not, of course, a tenable situation and there will usually come a point where the partner realises that he or she needs to prioritise their own needs, -often at the expense of the relationship.
When drug addiction takes hold, the user will tend to relinquish responsibility for themselves. And in doing so, will fail to keep a job, pull their weight within the household and, even stop taking responsibility for their own personal hygiene and grooming.
This can change the dynamic of the relationship, putting the partner in the role of ‘parent’ whilst the addict relieves themself of all adult responsibility in favour of pursuing their addiction. As this continues, it usually follows that all romantic aspect of the relationship will cease until the dynamic is very much one of codependency; a situation which is usually not sustainable long term.
A Breakdown in Health
Prolonged drug addiction has a number of different consequences and, these include mental and physical illness. Long-term drug misuse can lead to heart disease and organ damage as well as mental health conditions such as depression, paranoia, and psychosis.
Some of these conditions manifest in behavioural changes and it’s not uncommon for a drug addict suffering from a neurological condition to become aggressive or violent, leading their partner to fear for their safety. In extreme cases, these conditions will lead to long-term hospitalisation or clinic treatment for the addict and, often, full recovery is elusive.
While a relationship can sometimes survive this, it’s quite rare. In most cases, the partner will soon become worn down by constantly travelling to and from a hospital for visits while also holding down a job and also providing childcare.
Once institutionalised, the addict will lose touch with the normal world and, as a result, will begin to distance from loved ones, placing an unacceptable strain on an intimate relationship.
Drug Addiction Harms
Drug addiction is a corrosive condition which chips away at every aspect of the addict’s life, from work and finances to personal and professional relationships. It’s usually extremely difficult for a drug addict to break the cycle of addiction without professional help but, ironically, many refuse to enter a rehabilitation program.
This is because by doing so, they will not have access to their drugs. This means that it often falls to a spouse or partner to care for the user and live with the addiction.
Unfortunately, living with an addict can often insight feelings of physical and mental anguish as well as having to adopt increased responsibility for the person suffering with addiction. To get help and support for you and a partner suffering with there are plenty of charities you can speak to including We Are With You and Families Anonymous.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on drug law. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.
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