Addiction & Relationships
When an individual struggles with an addiction, it has a major impact on their relationships. Addiction is known as a person continuing to engage in a harmful behavior, despite negative consequences. Some common addictions are substance abuse addictions, gambling addictions, shopping addictions and sex/pornography addictions.
Addiction impacts the quality of a person’s relationships due to the behaviors associated with the addiction. A person struggling with an addiction is usually going to behave in a way that continues to support their addiction which has them basically living in survival mode valuing their addiction above all other things. This is especially true with substance abuse because of the physical affects and withdrawals. Some behaviors associated with addiction are manipulation, dishonesty, self centeredness, financial distress, isolation, irritation, lack of interest in hobbies, hygiene and responsibilities.
These behaviors can obviously have a negative impact a person’s significant relationships as a result of the consistent betrayals. When an individual in a relationship consistently engages in forms of betrayal it can add to their significant other’s anxiety and insecurity making the perfect recipe for a codependent relationship.
Addiction & Codependency
Codependency can affect a spouse, parent, sibling, friend or co-worker and is often illustrated by maintaining one-sided, emotionally destructive relationships. A codependent person in a relationship often struggles with low self esteem and has difficulty maintaining their own individuality within the relationship. They have good intentions attempting to care for a loved one struggling with mental illness and/or addiction, however they often end up becoming a benefactor and begin covering for their loved one. For example, a wife might cover for her alcoholic husband or a father might make excuses for his addicted daughter. This cycle continues to enable the harmful, destructive behaviors associated with addiction and mental illness and continues to fuel the cycle of the addicted person relying on the codependent person.
The codependent person in the relationship feels a sense of reward when the loved one continues to rely upon them, however the care-taking role typically starts to become defeating and often causes the codependent person to begin feeling like a victim unable to escape the cycle. Even if our loved one receives treatment for their mental illness and/or substance abuse and stops engaging in the harmful behaviors, we may continue to have difficulty breaking this cycle.
Relationships can be messy and confusing without any presence of mental illness, addiction and/or codependency. Our feelings are enmeshed with another a person and can feel really overwhelming at times. Therapy can help navigate us to learn how to navigate our relationships in the healthiest way possible.
Some Signs of a Codependent Relationship—
Keeping quiet to avoid arguments.
Always worried of others opinions (even close loved ones).
If we have ever lived with someone struggling with substance abuse/severe mental illness.
Others opinions are more important than ours.
We feel rejected when our significant other engages in hobbies/spends time with friends without including us.
We frequently wish someone would help us without us asking for help.
Have difficulty saying, “no” to others.
Often engage in people pleasing behaviors to appease others and to continue to manipulate their approval of us.
Difficulty asking for help.
Difficulty communicating needs and feelings —often relying on passive aggressive communication.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey, I'm Brooke --I'm a licensed anxiety and addiction therapist serving individuals, adolescents and couples in the states of New Jersey and Florida. My experience brings both a personal and professional perspective to the work that I do with my clients. If you are interested in learning more about the therapy process and would like to schedule a free consultation, I would love to chat with you!