Addiction is notoriously hard on relationships. Couples in which one partner uses/abuses drugs or alcohol tend to be very unhappy, as drug use can take over one’s life to the detriment of everything else. It can create both an emotional distance and a physical one if the user is frequently out doing or acquiring drugs instead of spending time at home. Some people also turn violent as a result of their substance abuse, and a spouse or partner is going to absorb a great deal of that violence just by proximity.

Like many other addiction triggers, arguments with a loved one can turn into a downward spiral. If you have a few normal marital problems, then you begin to drink or do drugs in an effort to escape or relax, that substance abuse can then turn into the main source of arguments, and the substance use increases as a way to cope.

Many other points of contention can arise from substance abuse. The user may stay out late, spend money recklessly, or stop taking care of their responsibilities around the home. Oftentimes it’s the spouse who has to cover for an addict when they miss work and having to constantly make excuses for someone is a recipe for resentment.

Most treatment programs for people with alcohol or drug disorders will include the partner in some way. Similar to how mental illnesses must be treated at the same time as substance abuse, it is also very important that the problems in the relationship be addressed, as they won’t just disappear because the drinking or drug use has stopped.

The important point here is substance abuse by a partner causes damage to the marriage or relationship and these problems need to be treated, too. If the issues in the relationship are not treated, they can set the stage for continued conflict and, in turn, relapse to drinking or drug use. Thus, lasting recovery from substance use depends, in part, on making the relationship better. Eliminating drinking or drug use is only the starting point; once sobriety is attained, a supportive, caring relationship can be one of the strongest factors in making that sobriety last.

In addition to all the conflict substance abuse can cause, it may also lead to a marked decrease in intimacy. Certain recreational drugs, like alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine, can cause erectile problems. This can lead to male addicts abusing performance-enhancing drugs in order to compensate. In 2011, the Archives of Sexual Behavior journal surveyed 1,994 men and found that four percent of the respondents reported using erectile dysfunction medication recreationally, and a majority of the respondents mixed male enhancement drugs with recreational drugs. Another study conducted in 2013 by the University of Grenada found that male drug addicts remained sexually impotent even after going through rehabilitation.

If you or a loved one are suffering from a substance abuse problem, call Asana Recovery at (949) 438-4504 to learn about our medical detox and residential and outpatient therapy programs.


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