How Addiction Breaks Relationships

Written by Jackie Calkins

Relationships can be the most beautiful aspect of our lives, but they are also fragile and require constant attention. Unfortunately, addiction has become a growing problem in today’s society, and it is one of the major reasons why relationships break down. 


Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, gambling, or anything else, addiction can have a devastating impact on your loved ones. In our blog post today, we will explore how addiction breaks relationships by looking at its different types that harm relationships and warning signs to watch out for. We’ll also provide tips on how you can help a loved one struggling with an addiction. 

How Addiction Can Impact Relationships

Addiction is a serious issue that can impact various aspects of an individual’s life, including and especially their relationships with loved ones. Addiction can cause individuals to prioritize their addiction over the needs and well-being of those around them. This behavior can lead to strained relationships, broken trust, and feelings of neglect.

The constant need for drugs or alcohol may drive addicts towards behaviors such as lying, cheating, or stealing, which are detrimental to any relationship. The addict becomes emotionally unavailable and unable to connect on a deeper level with their partner leading to communication breakdowns.

The unpredictability that comes with addiction often causes anxiety in partners who try hard but fail to keep up with the erratic behavior exhibited by the addicted person. This leads to emotional exhaustion for both parties involved.

Additionally, financial strain due to excessive spending on addictive substances could result in fights between couples struggling financially. Children growing up in homes where addiction is present may suffer from trauma caused by witnessing disturbing scenes at home resulting from substance abuse.

It is important for both parties involved— the addict and their partner— to understand how addiction impacts relationships so they work together towards finding a solution before irreparable damage occurs. Seeking professional help should be encouraged rather than ignored or denied when dealing with addiction issues within a relationship.

The Different Types Of Addictions That Harm Relationships

While substance abuse may be the first thing that comes to mind when we think of addiction, there are actually many different types of addictions that can harm relationships.

One common type of addiction is alcoholism. When someone struggles with alcohol addiction, they may prioritize drinking over spending time with their loved ones or fulfilling their responsibilities. This can lead to arguments and resentment within the relationship.

Another type of addiction is drug abuse. Those who struggle with drug addiction may become isolated from their partners and family members as they try to hide their drug use. They may also experience mood swings and erratic behavior that can strain a relationship.

Gambling addiction is another type of addictive behavior that can harm relationships. A person struggling with a gambling addiction may spend excessive amounts of money on gambling activities, leading to financial strains and disagreements within the relationship.

Sexual addiction is yet another form of addictive behavior that can cause problems in relationships. Those who struggle with sexual compulsivity or sex addiction may engage in risky behaviors or betray their partner’s trust by engaging in infidelity.

Regardless of the specific type of addictive behavior at play, it’s important for both parties in a relationship to seek help and support if one partner is struggling with an addiction.

The Warning Signs Of Addiction

Addiction can take many forms, ranging from substance abuse to behavioral addictions like gambling or sex.

Recognizing the warning signs of addiction is crucial in helping someone seek treatment before it causes irreparable damage to their relationships. One of the most common indicators of addiction is when a person starts prioritizing their addictive behavior over other responsibilities and activities they once enjoyed. The second most common indicator of addiction is when an individual wants to quit doing the harmful activity but is unable. 


Other warning signs may include:

  • Changes in mood or personality 
  • Secretive behavior 
  • Sudden financial problems
  • Poor hygiene or physical appearance 
  • And neglecting social obligations


In some cases, as with drugs and alcohol, physical symptoms may include: 

  • Sweating 
  • Shaking hands 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hangovers
  • Acting erratically 
  • Glassy eyes
  • Being “out of it” 
  • And general malaise


It’s important to note that not everyone who displays these behaviors has an addiction problem. But if you notice several of these patterns repeatedly occurring together then it might be time for a conversation with your loved one about getting help for their substance use disorder. Avoid accusing them outright, instead approach them with empathy and care while expressing concern for their wellbeing.

How To Help A Loved One With Addiction

When a loved one is struggling with addiction, it can be difficult to know how to help them. It’s important to remember that addiction is a complex issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, there are steps you can take to support your loved one in their recovery journey:

First, it’s crucial to educate yourself about addiction— the causes, symptoms and treatments available. This will enable you to understand what your loved one is going through and how best to offer support. Attend therapy sessions or support groups together if possible.

Second, communicate openly with your loved one about their addiction. Avoid judgmental language and instead use “I” statements like “I’m worried about you”. Offer emotional support rather than trying to control or fix the situation.

Third, encourage your loved one towards treatment options such as rehab programs like ours or counseling services. Be patient but persistent in suggesting these options.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s essential to understand addiction is a disease, a disease that can be effectively treated with professional help. 


Need Help For A Loved One Experiencing Addiction? 

Addiction can cause significant damage to relationships. It’s essential to recognize the warning signs of addiction and seek help as soon as possible. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for support from family, friends, and especially trained professionals like us.


With dedication, perseverance and professional help, it’s possible to overcome addiction and rebuild healthy relationships. Take the first step by calling us at (615) 410-9260 and invest in a brighter future for yourself and those around you.