It’s only relatively recently that we’ve really begun to understand addiction, its nature, its development and causes, how its treated, how to cope with addiction in others, and so on. Before we had the benefit of decades of research, the consensus was that addiction was largely a behavioral and, by extension, a moral affliction. As a result, people who suffered from addiction were largely relegated to the periphery of society. But research and clinical observation helped us to understand that addiction is actually a chronic relapsing brain disease, affecting virtually every aspect of a person’s health, life, and relationships.
Addiction & Relationships
There’s no understating just how profound the effects of substance abuse and addiction can be. In fact, there’s a tendency to view addiction as mostly affecting individuals, but it can be just as devastating for all the people in an addict’s life, particular his or her close family members and romantic partner. Generally, one’s relationships are an aspect of life that are profoundly impacted by a substance abuse problem, but it’s usually not until after the individual seeks treatment and embraces recovery that he or she realizes the full extent to which his or her addiction affect the individual’s loved ones.
When addiction is introduced into a family unit, every member is affected with the full extent depending on which family member suffers from the addiction. In the case of a parent, the individual’s addiction results in a strained marriage while the substance abuse problem compromises the safety and security of his or her children. If it’s a son or daughter who’s addicted, the parents are forced to watch helplessly as the addicted individual spirals downward on a path of self-destruction. But if you can even imagine in, one of the worst scenarios would be for both the parents — or both parties in any romantic relationship — to be addicted.
How Addiction Affects Romantic Partners
Addiction is a very selfish disease. After becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs, a person is constantly thinking about the next fix, obsessively planning and scheming and trying to find ways to continue to support his or her habit. As such, it’s an understatement to say that addiction is a disease that’s not very conducive to healthy, loving relationships, and that’s exponentially true when both parties are addicted.
In the case when only one party is addicted, there are only a few ways that the non-addicted party can respond: He or she can either try to cope with the situation by staying, end the relationship, or join his or her partner in addiction. The latter is arguably the most dangerous of these three scenarios for a number of reasons. For one thing, this ensures the longevity of the addiction for both individuals since this means there are two people who are looking for plans and strategies to continue sustaining their substance abuse problems. Additionally, it means that there’s no voice of reason or encouragement for recovery in the relationship. Since both parties are addicted to alcohol or drugs, there’s nobody to incentivize recovery, so they’re more likely to remain in active addiction for an even longer period of time.
Unfortunately, both parties being addicted also means that their relationship is compromised. No matter how much they’ve come to rely on each other for sustaining their substance abuse habits, the reality is that alcohol or drugs has become more important than anything or anyone else for both parties. As such, at some point it’ll likely happen that one or both parties must throw the other under the proverbial bus, which is done either for a fix or to avoid consequences to their actions.