Addiction and substance abuse issues affect families and relationships a great deal. Addiction affects nearly every area of your life. It disrupts family and home life, and it can destroy a marriage and drive a significant wedge between family members. Addiction destroys many if not all of one’s relationships if it is not treated.
A growing body of literature suggests that substance abuse has distinct effects on different family structures. For example, the parent of small children may attempt to compensate for deficiencies that his or her substance‐abusing spouse has developed as a consequence of that substance abuse (Brown and Lewis 1999). Frequently, children may act as surrogate spouses for the parent who abuses substances. For example, children may develop elaborate systems of denial to protect themselves against the reality of the parent’s addiction. Because that option does not exist in a single‐parent household with a parent who abuses substances, children are likely to behave in a manner that is not age‐appropriate to compensate for the parental deficiency. (NIH)
Addiction not only affects the immediate family, it often extends beyond the nuclear family and can affect extended family members. Family members can feel abandoned, fearful, anxious, anger, concern, embarrassed, and guilty. When it comes to being married to a man or woman struggling with addiction, it’s often a challenge that can make or break the marriage.
How Being Married to an Addict Feels Like
Addicted men and women often display behavioral problems while in relationships, especially when it comes to marriages. Codependency is one of the most common problems. Codependency is a dysfunctional dynamic where the addicted person is enabled by the other person that’s involved. There is a “caretaker” who will often devote their entire life trying to take care of and enable the person with the addiction, while not helping them recover or allowing them to get sober. Addiction changes a person completely, how they act towards others, function, and live their life. There are many specific behavioral traits that often nearly destroy relationships. These traits drive away people that they love. Lying – Addicts are a lot of times very dishonest people, especially in the heat of their addictions. For instance, they may say they are sober, but they are sneaking around and continuing to use. Manipulation – Blaming and guilting the other person for their actions and habits, or accusing their loved ones of false things. Violence – Addicts or more likely to be physically and emotionally abusive to their partners or others. These are common behavioral traits of an addict. Loved ones and spouses of addicts can no longer trust or rely on them, and addiction can harm the physical and emotional well-being of their loved ones as well.
How Does Addiction Affect Relationships?
Addicted individuals are usually moody and can be unpredictable, making marriages difficult by causing problems in long-term relationships. Most addicts can no longer function once their substance abuse progresses to a certain point. Addiction and drugs become their priority. Work, life-sustaining activities, and spending time with their family is no longer important. Addicts will often: neglect important duties, encounter legal problems, need time to nurse hangovers, and be unable to stop at will. Addiction can also cause major financial issues in a family and marriage. Once an addict gets to a certain point in their disease, they will do anything and everything to get their drug of choice. This can mean they stop paying essential bills, stealing money from bank accounts, and running up credit card debt. The financial issues that addiction can cause alone can devastate a family and marriage. Marriages also suffer when there is an addict in the relationship. Some of the common problems that can arise in a marriage when dealing with an addict can include:
- Marital conflict
- Domestic violence
Some addicts can get violent if anyone or anything gets in their way when they are trying to feed their addiction. Also, as stated above, children of addicts can suffer a great deal. Broken homes due to sick parents often force some children to grow up a lot faster than they should. Children will fail classes at school, suffer depression and anxiety, become truant, engage in risky behaviors, be unable to make friends, manifest physical illnesses to seek attention, act as a parental figure, steal or become violent or aggressive, and they may even start abusing drugs and alcohol themselves. Addicts usually don’t realize how badly their addiction affects those that love them most. It’s not until they get into treatment and start recovering until they realize just how bad their relationships have been affected. You can’t force someone you love into treatment; it doesn’t work. The addict has to be 100% ready to commit to change and to get better. That’s the only way they will be able to heal and recover once and for all.
Treatment for Addiction That Helps Families
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Miramar offers cutting edge addiction treatment. We offer a safe environment and treat our clients with respect. We specialize in making sure our patients have the most comfortable detox process possible. You no longer have to continue to suffer out of fear. Give us a call today.