Brain Chemistry and the Emotional Damage of Addiction
My drug abuse not only ruined my own life but the lives of those I love. Drug addiction disrupts every aspect of your life due to the way that it rewires your brain. I learned from my time at South Shores Detox and Recovery that substance use disorder can completely change the way that people view interpersonal relationships.
An addicted person cannot live a healthy life or form healthy relationships. The reasons why an addict can’t love you just sort of pile up and pile up. Drug addiction controls you’re thinking and your emotions on a daily basis. Even if you are typically a very loyal and loving person, addiction-related behaviors affect everyone in your life in a very negative fashion. There is a lot of trauma and PTSD that the family and friends of addicts suffer from.
Often times addicts will form romantic relationships with other addicts. There is a lot of co-dependency in addicted couples, which makes it even more difficult to achieve sobriety. I’ve been in many co-dependent relationships that revolved around substance abuse, and they were all doomed from the beginning.
Keep reading to learn more about love and addiction, and how to offer help for a loved one with the programs of recovery at South Shores!
The Sticky Nature of Substance Abuse In Families
So how does drug abuse and alcohol abuse affect relationships? Can an addict really love you? Can you love someone if you are an addict? Let’s take a look at some of the factors involved and learn about how relationships based on drug abuse usually don’t last.
I had a lot of trauma in my childhood, much like many others who suffer from substance abuse. I came from a family with a long history of drug abuse, and it seems like I was destined to become a drug addict myself. It wasn’t unusual for my mother or father to offer me a sip of beer when I was in grade school or offer me marijuana when I was in middle school.
When you grow up in this kind of environment, it seems normal. My parents would allow my friends and me to use drugs and alcohol in high school, so they became known as the ‘cool parents’. As I grew up and gained more life experience, I could see that despite them being thought of as cool parents, it came with a lot of dysfunction and drama.
How Drug Addiction Controls Your Life
Because my drug use began at a young age, it became a part of my life that I couldn’t imagine living without. I drank and smoked marijuana through high school and then began dabbling with cocaine and opiates in my late teens and early twenties. My upbringing basically guaranteed that I would abuse substances.
When I would use drugs or alcohol, it masked a lot of the issues that I didn’t want to deal with. I have suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life, and even though I thought my drug use was an escape, it was quietly making things much worse.
A Form of Mental Illness Unlike Any Other
My mental health was off my entire life. By the time I became an adult, there was no way for me to become a productive member of society and adapt to regular life. Everything in my life suffered, especially all of my intimate relationships.
Someone who abuses substances has a strangely selfish form of mental illness, like having eating habits that eventually consume everything you know and used to love. You spend time with substances rather than loved ones, it’s that simple. All your money and time go to the addiction, and emotionally not much is left.
There are often a lot of excuses involved in this sort of life, and most people get sick of the lies that an addict will tell even their closest loved one. Drugs or alcohol sort of took over for me, and the behaviors from those many years are still a source of shame and anger at times.
Growing Up A Drug Addict: A Bit About Me
There is a lot of peer pressure that comes with substance abuse. The people we surround ourselves with often influence a lot of our decision-making. Growing up, using drugs or alcohol is seen as the cool thing to do. There is a hierarchy in school, and being at the bottom is very uncomfortable. A lot of kids will do anything to be looked at as ‘cool’.
I was seen as a cool kid in school because my parents allowed me to use drugs and alcohol. Because of this, I did get a lot of attention from girls. Looking back, most of my relationships were based on my ability to acquire drugs and alcohol easier than others.
Drug Abuse In A Romantic Relationship
I’ve never been in a relationship with someone who wasn’t also a drug addict. It’s very common for addicts to seek relationships with other addicts. Dating someone with an addiction just doesn’t work if you aren’t also an addict.
While someone with a mental health disorder may display some of the signs of addiction, the difference will be clear in the case of addiction. Drug paraphernalia, while it may be subtle, is hard for drug addicts to conceal entirely. Trust me, I should know.
Depending on your drug of choice, the people in your life will fall into place accordingly. I was a full-blown opiate addict in my twenties, and the only people I dated were also opiate addicts. If I couldn’t find opiates, then my partner usually knew where to get them. Drug addiction is a constant game of ‘Where will I get my next fix?’
A lot of the healthy people in your life will disappear the deeper you go into addiction. The only people you want around are people who have connections to drugs. I once dated a girl who had a prescription for Percocet, and the only reason the relationship lasted so long was because of her ability to get drugs.
How Addictive Substances Can Destroy Relationships
An addict will usually put themselves and their addictions first no matter what. Even if you are in a relationship with someone you really love, you will throw them under the bus in a second for the opportunity to maintain your own substance abuse.
There were times when I would go and score drugs for me and my partner, and I would almost always hide a little bit of the drugs for myself. My partner did this as well, and it would make me furious if I found out. I was enraged at this person for doing the same thing that I would do. It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was me getting high, not someone else.
A healthy relationship is built on trust. Trusting someone with an addiction is usually not going to work out. I would feel guilty hiding drugs from my partner, but the guilt I felt never overrode my need to get my fix. An addict will choose drugs and give in to the intense cravings every time over any healthy choices.
Can An Addicted Couple Get Sober Together?
Out of all the relationships that I had during my substance abuse, there was only one where the two of us tried sobriety together. Once we took that step, it became clear that our relationship revolved solely around our drug use. A person struggling with substance abuse will normally have to cut out everyone in their life in order to achieve success.
My partner and I’s sobriety was short-lived. She lasted one week, and I lasted two days. I tried to hide the fact that I started using again, which goes back to the trust issue. You can’t lie to your partner’s face when they know you are lying. How can you trust them again on anything?
An intimate relationship will often never survive codependent substance use. When you are addicted to drugs, it’s normal to not have a strong support system. All I had was my partner who was also an addict. Even though getting sober is an individual effort, you do need help along the way.
Treatment Programs And Healthy Boundaries
When I finally decided to get sober, the relationship that I was in was coming to an end. My partner did not want to acknowledge her addiction and get help. She was angry at me for seeking help and didn’t offer a whole lot of support. Even though I had strong feelings for this person, I knew we had to part ways.
My partner eventually cleaned herself up, and I’m very proud of her for that. We actually tried to date again after we both got sober, but it just wasn’t meant to be. It was clear that our relationship was based on substance abuse and there was nothing left there. We still cared for each other, but there wasn’t much left between us.
When I enter into a relationship these days, it feels like a brand new thing. Building trust and not dating an addicted person was totally alien to me at first. I had to relearn how to share my life with someone and not have it revolve around abusing substances.
Getting Professional Help at South Shores
When I sought treatment for my addiction, I began to address my compulsive behavior and my physical health for the first time in my life. The licensed medical professionals at South Shores did an amazing job of helping me take a long, hard look at myself and what I wanted out of life. It was hard for me to have healthy thoughts and not let my mind wander back into drug mode.
I’ve learned about setting boundaries and making my sobriety my number one obligation. I still have people I love and care about who are addicts, but I put a good amount of distance between them and myself. If they are ready to try sobriety themselves, I am here for them. Helping people get off alcohol or drugs is a big part of recovery.
Recovery Is Always A Possibility
I can’t make someone else get sober, and it’s important not to put too much of my energy into fixing other people. I can only fix myself, but I can give others the tools that might help them succeed as well.
It can be challenging at times to see so many other people struggling, but I try to be encouraging to anybody who shows an interest in getting their life together. My number one priority is taking care of myself, but I am open to helping others more than I ever have been because of what sobriety has given me.
Family therapy also played a role and has helped me mend the relationships with my parents and other family members that were once pretty damaged. It even helped me get full custody of my children, and I was better able to control my anger toward my ex and even curb my irritability with my kids.
Find a Path of Support with South Shores Today
My time at South Shores Recovery taught me a lot about the power of addiction and the effect it has on family, friends, and relationships. There is so much manipulation and emotional turmoil that exists in relationships based on addiction.
Once you remove yourself from the harm of substance abuse, you will realize that a relationship can be a wonderful, fulfilling endeavor.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, or in the life of someone you care about, why not reach out to South Shores Detox and Recovery to get options for a different path? They can answer any questions you may have and help your loved one develop a plan for recovery, so contact them today!