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addiction affects relationships

How Addiction Affects Relationships

Millions of people from all over the world struggle with varying types of addiction. It’s a tough disease to navigate and everyone’s journey is different. Most of the time, it’s easier to overcome with help, but you must also have the will to heal within you.

Unfortunately, addiction often also affects those around the one who struggles. Every situation is different but addiction spills into all areas of one’s life – work, family, friends, etc. Whether it’s a long-term partnership, a close friendship, or family members, addiction and relationships will always be intertwined.

How Addiction Can Hurt Your Relationships

Everyone has many different relationships. Those closest to you will be most affected by an addiction, but it’ll reach everyone in some way.

Too often, the damage done is irreversible and can leave permanent dark spots in a relationship. However, you can reduce and prevent this damage when you’re aware of the effect your condition may be having.

Read on to learn more about how an addiction can affect various relationships in your life:


For many, family consists of some of the most important relationships in their lives. Unfortunately, it’s familial relationships that are often affected first, and most deeply when you fall into addiction. No matter where you stand in the family, everyone feels the strain:

  • Parents will feel helpless, confused, and heartbroken as they watch a child go through the various stages of addiction. They may wonder where they went wrong, and some are even in danger of enabling the addiction for fear of further pushing their child away.
  • Children of an addicted parent are at risk of feeling neglected, ignored, and unimportant. Depending on the age of the child, they may easily understand that a substance and everything related to it is a higher priority than them. Many children harbour resentment for an addicted parent and their actions, even after they get clean and recover.
  • Siblings become estranged as they grow angry with each other. They may feel disconnected from an addicted sibling, and perhaps jealous or neglected as parents place more attention on the addicted child.

Regardless of the anger and resentment family members may feel, many also feel sad, anxious, and helpless as they try to help.


Another important relationship in your life is your partner. Whether you’re in the early stages of a relationship, have been married for 20 years, or are somewhere in between – you can’t avoid the impact on relationships:

  • Lost trust. Often, trust is the first to go when someone succumbs to an addiction. Navigating addiction tends to come with secrecy, lying, and even theft. Whether it’s constantly being late for important things or hiding what you’re doing and where you’re going, it becomes hard to trust.
  • Emotions on high. Being with someone battling addiction can put both parties on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s easy to become defensive, to lash out, to make excuses, and even project blame. This can lead to excessive arguing and anger. Things may be said by both parties that will be hard to take back and recover from.
  • Like parents who are worried about upsetting their children, partners may unknowingly enable their loved one. This can come in the form of making excuses for them, justifying their behaviour to downplay the severity, etc.
  • Compromising themselves. Although being with someone struggling with addiction is challenging, people still love their partners and want what’s best for them. This can lead to sacrificing their own mental health, self-esteem, and even safety to keep their partner calm and happy. They may start looking the other way and ignoring serious red flags for fear of losing them.

While these things are challenging and relationships can take a devastating turn, there is usually still hope. You can focus on rebuilding relationships in recovery and many facets of therapy address addiction and relationships.

lost trust


Solid, lasting friendships can enrich your life in amazing and meaningful ways, but they take work like any relationship. Friendships require understanding, compromise, forgiveness, and open-mindedness. These are the things that can falter quickly once an addiction gets ahold of one person.

Friends of someone who’s addicted will go through many struggles and emotions:

  • They’ll go through things like confusion, anger, resentment, mistrust
  • They can feel neglected, ignored, and unimportant
  • At the same time, they’ll feel sad, helpless, and worried for their friend
  • They can grow tired of the lies, excuses, poor decisions, and lack of effort. Eventually, they may stop trying if they feel like their friend doesn’t care anymore.

In some cases, it may be possible to repair friendships and get back on good, strong terms. However, some people may not be willing to come back, even when the one struggling heals and recovers.

Rebuilding Relationships

Although addiction can, and often does have devastating effects on all relationships, many are not beyond repair!

Whether you’re going through regular therapy, staying at a facility, or participating in another program, you’ll be given strategies to help you navigate these relationships. Even without professional help, though, there are some things you can keep in mind when trying to maintain and rebuild healthy relationships:

  • Communicate honestly. Honest and open communication will be your best friend. Especially if you’ve lost trust through lies and deception, honestly goes a long way.
  • Get rid of unhealthy relationships. If you hope to rebuild the strong and healthy relationships in your life, you need to eliminate toxic ones. Staying in touch with people who enable your addiction and have a bad influence will only hinder your efforts to get better.
  • Learn to communicate. When repairing and maintaining relationships, knowing how to communicate properly and productively is imperative.
  • Set healthy expectations. Understand that rebuilding with your friends, family, and partner takes time. Don’t rush it, don’t get frustrated, and give them time to get to where they need to be.

rebuilding relationships

Heal in Peace at Lily Recovery

Once you’re ready to accept help and healing, you must do so in the right place. A private, healthy, and productive environment is crucial and this is exactly what we offer here at Lily Recovery.

Surrounded by only other women, we offer a peaceful and stable place to find healing and overcome your addiction. We’ll help you create tools and coping mechanisms to help you heal yourself and rebuild your most treasured relationships. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or need some guidance.