Addiction can take control and destroy everything in somebody’s life without them even being aware of it, from relationships with friends and family to the way that they interact with strangers. For some people dealing with addiction, relationships can become problematic to the point where they become withdrawn, and they start blaming their problems on others. This makes breaking the cycle extremely hard as the person dealing with addiction will have changed and become more focused on pleasuring themselves, than they will be about caring for the wishes or needs of their family and friends.
Here we will take a look at how addiction can affect the people around you.
Lies and Deception
Of all the frustrations that friends and family of addicts can have, one of the most common is deception. Deception runs through the daily life of an addict because their life is centered around what they are addicted to, be it drugs, alcohol, or gambling. Once the addict realizes how bad their problem is, then they start to become more reclusive about their daily activities out of a sense of shame or guilt. Small white lies escalate until the point is reached where nothing can be believed, there is no rational explanation where the money has been spent or why certain things have started to go missing. At this point, personal relationships will begin to be eroded, possibly at the exact point when the addict needs help the most before they spiral into the depths of addiction.
Unfortunately, a natural consequence of all the lies and deception is that those around the addict will begin to lose trust in them. Secrecy and deceit can only continue for so long before family members start to lose respect for the disloyalty of the addict, and the relationship begins to eat itself from the inside out. Once trust is lost, it is difficult for an addict to maintain a relationship without finding a treatment center for help. Otherwise, romantic relationships will be particularly damaged because issues are not discussed in the way they might have been, and emotions like jealousy, possessiveness, and selfishness come to the fore. Sometimes the addict will not even have the desire to restore trust in relationships because their sole focus is on getting their fix, not the emotional state of those around them.
Abuse and Violence
One of the saddest effects addiction can have on those around them is domestic violence. Especially when drugs or alcohol are involved, anger and resentment can come to the fore leading to explosions of violent, often uncontrollable rage that can often have unintended consequences. Behavior can become wildly volatile from seeming perfectly normal after their last fix, to becoming aggressive and violent without a hit. Conversely, the violence does not always come from the addict, as those around them can lose patience and self-control and can lash out. Often due to shame or fear, the abused suffer in silence, and the pattern of abuse can continue, sometimes for years.
When someone is in a loving relationship with an addict, they will naturally do all they can to help the addict overcome their disease or illness. This, however, can have unintended consequences because the addict can fall even further into their addiction as the enabler tries to take over and help various aspects of their life. This might be by making excuses for poor behavior, taking the blame for the addict’s actions, or possibly worst of all, by helping them financially. All of these actions start with good intentions but help the addict become more addicted by making excuses for them for their behavior.
Another classic effect of addiction on others can be seen in codependent relationships. Again, similarly to enabling, a codependent person helps in a way that is having a negative effect on the addict. They may see themselves as a caretaker and feel like their help is needed thereby masking the real issues that the addict has. There may be a feeling of doing good by sacrificing themselves for the sake of the addict when they should be behaving in precisely the opposite way if they want to help the addict. This type of behavior can become the most toxic of all but sadly is very commonly seen in addicts within their close relationships.
As we have seen, addiction can affect those around you in numerous ways, from lies and deception leading to a lack of trust, which eventually ends up in domestic violence to enabling and codependent relationships that start with good intentions but end up doing more harm than good. The key is to convince the addict that they need to seek help from a treatment center or a counselor before the addiction spirals out of control.