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Addiction is now classified as a chronic disease. First, people thought of it as the result of bad choices and access to narcotics, but as research went deeper, they found that addiction is a behavioral disease, brought upon by repeated habits, stressors, and triggers.

Then it went further beyond that. It’s not anymore a physical and mental disease, it’s also become a social disease, as addicts tend to affect everyone around them. Sadly, it’s not as simple as social disgust. It gets deeper and harsher.

How Drug Addiction Affects Relationships

The first factor that is affected by addiction is attention. It doesn’t necessarily mean the person has drugs on his or her mind 24/7, instead, it becomes the top priority. They have to get their dose first, which means they focus on where to get it, how to get it without interruption, and how to make sure the supply is constant.

This means addicts won’t prioritize their jobs, you or the family’s welfare. In order for them to become functional, they have to get their dose first before they become functional. For people with constant supply, the gravity of this effect is not felt as much. It’s when they don’t have a supply that things turn bad.

On the matter of securing supplies, addicts are often aware of the opposition against their habit. This can make them take the substance in secret, which starts a string of lies and secrets they’d rather not let you know. It goes further when an addict starts to prioritize their addiction and begins to do actions that would undermine your well-being and quality of life. For example, addicts would spend their savings (or the family’s,) to get their substance, or sell items such as jewelry in secret, to get what they need.

As the priority of the drug goes deeper, the addict’s own emotional processes get warped. Since nothing else matters, they start to feel fewer emotions about other things. They become either preoccupied, irritable or numb about other things and that includes affection. If your attention and affection cannot make the addict happier than the drug, they won’t have the initiative to care about you.

It gets worse when they are confronted. Others are passive and will make up any lie to get out of it. There some that unfortunately, become aggressive. They will do what they can to protect their habit, either by stopping you using what means they can muster, including violence, or avoiding you and becoming more secretive of their actions. Either way, they want you out of their business.

That is just one scenario. In some cases, an addict will manipulate you into supporting their habit. This likely happens with people who enable them. Enabling means covering for them, or taking responsibilities from their actions, such as bailing them out of jail, talking or lying to their employers. If you do this to them, they will do what they can to make sure you do it again and again.

Can Marriages Survive Drug Addiction? Or is This an Inevitable Divorce?

It’s a fact that marriages that have on of the parties with addiction, often lead to divorce or separation of some sort. This is mainly because the addiction was either addressed the wrong way or was allowed to exist, placing it as the priority over everything else. It gets to a point where the affected party doesn’t know the person they married anymore. How can this be avoided? Or at the very least how can it be minimized?

Stop enabling the addiction. This is easier said than done. Even caring for your partner during the times when they’re unable to function, is already enabling. The smallest things such as cleaning after their own messes is already an act of enabling. The key thing to remember is to make sure your partner not only understands but also experience the consequences of their addiction.

This involves keeping them from manipulating you or using anything that can help their addiction. Make sure they don’t have access to money you don’t want to be spent on drugs, (Or just keep money out period) and make sure they are the ones who explain themselves to anyone they undermine. It may seem cruel and unloving, but it’s the best way. Consider it tough love.

Care for yourself. One factor that can make marriages crumble is if the affected party curbs into the stress and takes it out on the addict. An addict cannot be reasoned with, or at least they can, but they are difficult to change in one sitting. Find a healthy way to release the tension and stress and keep yourself nourished. You’re going to need all that patience and endurance to survive the first parts of the recovery process.

Learn everything you can about the addiction. Educate yourself on how addiction works, what to expect during confrontations, and who addicts protect their habit. Understanding how it works can help you find patience with an addict’s behavior.

Seek professional help. This is especially needed for couples with deep issues, where the drivers of the addiction stem from the dynamics of your relationship. Seek a counselor and find out how you can get rehabilitative help. There are two things to fix here: the addiction and what the addiction has caused between you and your partner. If you can handle this on your own, good, but there’s no shame in seeking help from people who know exactly what to do.

How It Affect Families?

The effects vary depending on the severity of the addiction. There are families that are indirectly affected, unable to see the problem until the veil is removed and things start to crash. Other times, the effect is more direct and destructive, leaving families no choice but to hide the damage and shame, doping whatever they can to remain functional. There are millions of cases where families are dissolved to the core because of one person’s addiction.

Effects of the addiction when a parent is an addict:

The drug remains a priority. Getting a constant supply of it, and a stable environment to enjoy it will be the priority. This means the children’s education or the family savings come second: If spending the college fund will help them get a stable supply for a month, they may not hesitate to spend it.

Why would an addict go to such lengths? It’s due to a common, self-feeding pattern that happens between a family’s dynamic. Something drives the addict to take their substance, either due to stresses in work, debt, or personal emotions like shame from the family’s disappointment. This driver sets the addict to take in more of their substance to feel that sense of good well-being, they become functional for a while. When the feeling of well-being is not enough to counteract the stressors, the addict loses the feeling and the brain urges it to “go back to normal.” This makes the addict take the substance and the cycle continues. Soon, nothing else will matter. For them, life without the substance is bleak and worthless.

There’s also a possibility of abusing the children, either physically or emotionally. One such case is when the addiction is visibly harming the family and one party opposes the addiction harshly. The addict cannot do anything about it and bottles this anger, only to be released on the children, often projecting their own weakness and guilt onto them.

Another more vivid effect is the financial toll, both to sustain the addiction and the complications that come with it. When an addict’s liver begins to fail due to high intakes of alcohol, or when a cocaine addict’s heart starts to beat out of rhythm, things could get worse, very fast.

Effect on the Children

Apart from the worse case scenarios, there are smaller, more subtle effects on the children. One of the children may answer the call to action, and attempt to solve the issue by themselves. You can see this in children who throw themselves between parents who are fighting each other, or they would surrender their own studies and aspirations to put themselves into use in order to help the family, or at the very least reduce the tension in it.

Admirable as it may seem, they are suffering from the inside as they take more responsibility for the ever-increasing problems. It’s only a matter of time before they cave in.

On the other hand, one of the children may become the family’s emotional punching bag. The family focuses more on the child’s problems, often inflating them so the tension from the addiction is instead, passed to their hands. Each mistake and shortcomings is put into the spotlight, crippling the child’s self-confidence and spark rebellious behavior. They could also succumb to addiction, seeing that the world feels like a better place with the substance.

Support For Families

As addiction continues to affect families, so does the fervor of people who want to help those affected. There are plenty of organizations that can provide counsel and support for families torn or being torn apart by addiction. Some may be expensive, as they have supplies and profession to effectively counter the problem, while others are free, utilizing time-tested traditional processes such as the 12-step programs.

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