How Drug Addiction Affects Relationships

Addiction doesn’t just negatively impact the user’s life – it impacts friends, relatives, and significant others as well.

In this article, you’ll learn how drug addiction affects relationships.

How Drug Addiction Affects Relationships

How Drug Addiction Affects Relationships

Addicts will often say, “my addiction only affects me”. Or, “I’m not hurting anybody when I use”.  The truth is that every single relationship an addict has is affected by the addiction.

Addicted parents have a negative impact on their children. Addicted children put their parents in a constant state of fear. Even the relationship the addict has with themselves is negatively affected.

Research confirms drug addiction affects relationships. The National Center for Domestic Violence reports there is a direct link between substance abuse and relationship violence and can affect both teens and adults. Relationships are defined by the way two or more people are connected and can affect the way they behave towards each other.

Addiction can act like a third party in a two-party union. It interferes in very negative ways. Some of the ways drug addiction affects relationships are listed below.

Here’s how drug addiction affects relationships.

Drug Addiction is like Having an Affair

Have you ever tried to call an addict, only to not be able to reach them after hours, even days, of trying? Have you ever looked at the contacts in their phone and realize they are connecting with people you don’t know? Have you ever caught your loved one in a lie about where they have been?

Answering yes to any of these questions means you know what it feels like to be placed second or third on your loved one’s list of priorities. You know what it feels like to be on the wrong end of an illicit affair. The only difference is that drugs take the place of a person in this affair.

Drugs will always be number one. You will be stood up because the one you love is with their drug. They will lie to you and say they are not using the drug when in fact, they are likely high when telling you that lie.

This behavior eliminates trust in a relationship.


One of the most affected relationships when it comes to drug addiction can be the parent-child relationship. When a parent is an addict, this harms the child, who does whatever they can to please their parent. Unfortunately, they may not ever be able to please their parent like drugs can.

Children internalize these feelings of rejection by their parents and take on the belief that they are not good enough. They then spend a lot of effort trying to please their addicted parent.

As they grow up, they start to try and please everyone in their lives for fear of losing them. Their low self-esteem keeps them in abusive relationships.

This process, once called co-dependency, is now referred to as Self-Love Deficient Disorder.

If not helped early enough, teens with this disorder can grow up to repeat these behaviors, as well as become addicts.

Rotating Enablers

Addicts need help getting drugs. Because they can’t hold down a job, they have no money. Because they don’t have a car or have legal issues that prevent them from driving, they need a ride.

A person addicted to drugs usually has a relationship with someone who helps them continue their use of drugs. A person who willingly helps an addict obtain drugs, even though they know what they are doing is wrong and can harm the addict, is called an enabler.

Enabling can take many forms including giving money, lending your vehicle, or even driving an addict to pick up their drugs.

Enablers are not bad people; they have bad boundaries. They aren’t strong enough to deny the addict they love with what they want.

As an addict, you need an enabler to help you get your drugs. When one person starts saying, “No”, you move to another person who can help you. This means you are either good at manipulating people, or you have made it so bad for your loved one that they will do anything just to ease the stress you have put on them.

Relationship with the Wrong Crowd

Maintaining an addiction requires a person to associate with other drug users, and drug dealers, and those who influence criminal activity. Most addicts will become criminals when they are faced with the inability to get their drug of choice. There are always other addicts who are eager to help them break the law.

An addict will often consider the negative influencers in their life to be close friends. They think their addict friends care about them and will do anything for them. However, the only thing they will do for them is help them stay addicted.

If an addict gets arrested, goes to rehab, or worse, overdoses, those friends are nowhere to be found. They don’t visit an addict in jail, they don’t support them in treatment, and they don’t even attend funerals.

Relationship with Self

Drug addiction can be cruel. It can make you put caring for yourself at the bottom of your list of things to do. Many addicts fail to use proper hygiene techniques and are often malnourished. The simple steps doing laundry, bathing, and healthy eating are pushed to the side when maintaining an addiction.

Addiction also affects your self-esteem. Over time, it makes you feel as if you are not good enough to have a sober life. It makes you feel weak because you can’t quit using on your own. It makes you feel unattractive and ultimately, unlovable.

These beliefs are not true, however.

Relationship with Treatment Professionals

Somewhere inside every addict is a good person who simply has made some very bad choices.

The most important relationship in helping an addict get sober is the one they form with treatment professionals, from detox doctors to inpatient counselors to sober living homes and more.

These are the people who have the tools and the knowledge to show an addict how to live a life free of substances. Treatment is available at all levels and for all addictions, from teens to adults.

Reach out today to your local facility and learn how to get the addict you know on the right track.

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