Romantic Relationships Under the Stress of Addiction

Relationships can be one of the major triggers in a person’s addiction and they may not even realize it. Whether the relationship appears healthy or not, many people get stuck in the cycle of drinking or using as a way of managing their relationship. Not only do relationships contribute to a person’s drinking or using, but it can also be a quick route to relapse once the person has received treatment. One of the biggest suggestions for anyone who is newly sober is to not get into a relationship, and many people don’t understand why. It’s important to understand unhealthy relationships, co-dependency, as well as the benefits of loving oneself in order to recover.

Unhealthy Relationships
As human beings, we’re naturally drawn to people and are looking for love. The problem for those suffering from addiction is that they often don’t know how to have a healthy relationship, and many are simply trying to fill a void. Those who develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol may have had a childhood coming from a broken home and not understanding what it means to be a healthy relationship. According to Janet Woititz who wrote Adult Children of Alcoholics, those who grew up with parents suffering from addiction have an even harder time having a relationship. Those who grew up with parents with an addiction are often drawn to chaotic relationships naturally without even realizing it.

Co-Dependent Relationships
Co-dependency is a big factor in addiction, and it can come from the person who is addicted or their partner. Co-dependency is an emotional and behavioral issue that causes a person to be incapable of having a mutually satisfying, healthy relationship. For example, many who suffer from addiction stay in their addiction due to their co-dependent partner. A co-dependent partner will stick by their partner suffering from addiction no matter how unhealthy the relationship is. This enables the person who is substance-dependent because their mind tells them that they don’t need to get help since they still have their partner. This can also work in the opposite way where the substance-dependent person is co-dependent to a verbally, physically or sexually abusive partner, which fuels the drinking or using because they’re depressed, scared, and anxious.

Relapses and Relationships
An addict feels that they found their ultimate relationship in drugs or alcohol, but there comes a point where alcohol or drugs weren’t enough or they hit the bottom and found a way to seek help. The common mistake people make is that they try to fill the void left behind by drugs and alcohol with a new relationship. The issue is that the person then puts their recovery on the backburner and believe that the relationship is going to keep them sober. When a person replaces recovery tools like therapy, aftercare and 12-step meetings with a toxic relationship, it’s a recipe for disaster.

This is very risky because a person who is newly sober doesn’t know how to have a healthy relationship yet. They’ve been spending months or years in selfish, self-destructive behavior, and it takes a lot of time to learn a new way of living. The best thing a person can do is take some time to be single, learn more about themselves and what they’re looking for, and then they can find a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.