People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol often assume that they’re the only ones affected by their addiction. They may rationalize continuing destructive behavior out of a belief that they’re only hurting themselves, and therefore there’s no reason to stop. In fact, this is a selfish point of view. Addiction does not simply impact addicts: it has dire consequences for the people in those addicts’ lives. If you’re a substance abuser, your problem is also a problem for your family and friends, and here’s why.
- Addiction creates distance between people. Addiction causes a disconnect in your brain, and that can cause you to push people away. When your primary focus is a substance, it’s hard to even recognize that you’re disregarding the needs and feelings of people who care about you. This can lead to fractured friendships and broken relationships because you’ve crossed boundaries and treated your loved ones with disrespect. What’s more, because addiction causes you to lose interest in the things you once enjoyed doing, you may not even realize that you’ve stopped interacting with people the way you used to do.
- Trust can be destroyed by addiction. Addicts are frequently untrustworthy. They lie, steal, and manipulate others in service to their own wants, and when confronted, don’t make any effort to really change. In time, trust erodes, and friends and family members stop believing the person and begin to self-protect by putting up walls.
- Addiction brings turmoil. Relationships become strained because of an addicted person’s negative behaviors, and this can lead to friends and family members blaming themselves and becoming depressed or anxious.
- Your relationship with substances is hard for people to understand. Addiction can alter the chemistry of your brain, causing you to make irrational decisions that don’t make sense to the people around you. What’s more, you may be struggling with substance abuse because of underlying feelings of worthlessness and insecurity. Because of this, you’ll put yourself in situations that are bad for you, believing you don’t deserve anything better. Your loved ones will often be caught in the crossfire of your bad choices, bewildered by the decisions you’re making.
- Family structure is disrupted by a family member’s addiction. Codependency is one result of addiction, and this can create a situation in which your family members’ lives are essentially controlled by your substance abuse problem. Addiction can also cause people to have to step into roles for which they are ill-prepared. For instance, your spouse may end up shouldering the bulk of familial responsibilities, or your child may have to act as a caretaker. Worse, children of addicts are more likely to become substance abusers themselves, perpetuating an unhealthy cycle.
- Your addiction brings out the worst in you. Because drugs and alcohol alter a person’s brain chemistry, addiction changes the way people behave. You may find yourself becoming more prone to violence or aggression, and you may even become abusive to those closest to you.
- Some relationships may be broken beyond repair. The stress and tension placed on relationships by addiction are extreme, and in some cases can lead to the fracturing of these close connections. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are statistically likelier to get divorced, and addiction can cause even your closest friends and family members to lose hope and give up on the relationship.
Once you see the impact your addiction is having on your loved ones, you may feel like fixing things is hopeless. Fortunately, that’s not necessarily true. It is possible to repair and rebuild relationships, but it will require sincere effort. Just like overcoming addiction, renewing and strengthening the bonds that have been broken is a difficult process, but it’s ultimately extremely rewarding. The first step towards fixing the relationships in your life, though, is getting the help you need to overcome your addiction.
If you are ready to overcome addiction and begin the journey to recovery, BriteLife Recovery is here for you. A one-on-one approach to addiction recovery is at the heart of BriteLife’s philosophy, and it’s key to the success of the program. Individual therapy can give patients tools and help them find the strength they need to survive addiction, gain new coping mechanisms, and rebuild their lives. If you know someone who you think would benefit from the BriteLife approach to addiction recovery, visit our website to learn more. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to find out how we can help.