Prosperity Haven Ohio

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Addiction Affects Relationships

Addiction affects relationships in ways that are long-lasting, difficult to fix, and unique to each individual. The lies, anger, co-dependence, and other negative impacts that come from a substance use disorder can change every interpersonal dynamic in an addicted person’s life.

So how does addiction affect others who care so much about their loved one? This can be a tricky question to answer, since everyone has their own boundaries, weaknesses, and needs. At Prosperity Haven, however, we’ve found that someone’s relationship to the addicted person is a better indicator of how they’ll react to the substance abuse than even their personality.

Below, we’ll explore how some of the closest relationships are affected by a loved one’s substance use disorder, and how our addiction treatment center near Cleveland, OH can help to repair the damage caused by long-term substance abuse.


Parents and siblings of an addicted person will often become “enablers,” not because they approve of the substance abuse, but because the alternatives often seem worse. What if the addicted person puts their trust in bad influences instead of their loved ones, or leaves their family to go somewhere they can no longer be reached? By contrast, staying in the addicted person’s life can seem like the safer option.

Unfortunately, the more the addicted person uses their family’s money and trust, the more out of control the situation becomes. Family members will often blame themselves for this escalation, become depressed, and give up on trying to improve the situation.

Children often suffer the most from living with an addicted person. Approximately 1 in 5 children in the US grow up in a household with drug or alcohol abuse, and they are 3 times more likely to be abused, and 4 times more likely to be isolated by peers. [1] Kids will often have to “cover” for addicted family members, performing actions they feel guilty for to hide a situation they don’t understand. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, children of addicted parents are a shocking 8 times more likely to develop a substance use disorder themselves, [2] putting them at tragic risk.


Substance abuse complicates every single aspect of a romantic partnership, especially for those who are living together or married. Long-term finances are jeopardized by ongoing substance abuse as the addicted person blatantly or secretly pulls from joint funds. Trust is almost always compromised as the lies and betrayals mount. Many drugs will affect libido and sexual performance, leading to complications in intimacy and, often, the addicted person to turn more to substance abuse than to sexual gratification.

The addicted person will likely become less physically and emotionally available as they spend more time isolated, pursuing or using their substance of choice. When they are around, however, the non-addicted partner will likely be subject to mood swings, or worse — it’s estimated that somewhere between 40-60% of intimate partner violence (IPV) incidents involve substance abuse. [3]

Partners also often become “tools” of the addicted person, whether they cover for them, fund their addiction, act as an outlet for the addicted person’s worst impulses, or otherwise enable the addiction simply by loving and not wanting to hurt their partner. The emotional and physical abuse involved with addiction also often means that partners have lower self esteem and depression, becoming dependent on what little access they have to their partner’s affection.



When considering how addiction affects relationships, friendships are the most difficult to pin down for a simple reason: compared to family members and romantic partners, friends simply don’t have the same weight of responsibility in their relationship. After all, no one chooses their family members, and established romantic partners have a great deal of pressure on them, but friendships are “at-will.”

What this means is that friendships can change from addiction in many different ways. Some friends actively enable substance abuse because they don’t want to stop partying themselves. Others will become enablers simply to keep the addicted person in their lives. Still others will push back on substance use, usually leading to a falling out between the addicted person and themselves.

Friends of someone with a substance use disorder end up in a uniquely challenging situation. On one hand, it can sometimes be easier for them to be in a safe position to be honest and supportive of the addicted person, without enabling them. On the other, friends are the easiest relationships for an addicted person to cut off. Friends will often have the most freedom to speak and act honestly — but also have the least power to sway the addicted person or disrupt their habits.


Family members, romantic partners, and friends are often asked to sacrifice their own wellbeing to enable the addicted person’s continued self-harm. It’s a difficult thing to watch, let alone to feel complicit in. And yet, many relationships that were ravaged by substance abuse can be repaired with hard work and the right resources.

At Prosperity Haven, we work closely with small, male-only groups to address clients’ unique needs and help them better understand their situations. Through family therapy with loved ones, our clients and those close to them can better understand each other’s perspectives and experiences as they work together to reestablish trust and rebuild the relationship that had been sacrificed to substance abuse.

Through evidence-based addiction treatment, holistic therapies that help the client find new perspectives and peace, and honest family therapy, we help our clients see how addiction affects relationships and begin to make amends. To learn more about our Cleveland area addiction treatment programs and family therapy, call Prosperity Haven at 440-253-9915 today.