The disease of drug or alcohol addiction can damage healthy, loving relationships, creating trauma and dysfunction. At the same time, dysfunctional relationships can lead to addiction, as people turn to substances to cope with the negativity of those relationships.
Toxic relationships and addiction go hand in hand, creating a vicious cycle. Change comes when the addict or their family and friends put a stop to the toxic influence that addiction has on relationships.
What Is a Toxic Relationship?
Whether with a romantic partner, family member or friend, toxic relationships involve negative behavior and patterns of control, selfishness, manipulation and abuse. A toxic relationship causes harm to one or both people involved.
Toxic relationships can lead to addiction, when people turn to drugs or alcohol to numb painful emotions. Sometimes, toxic relationships form as a result of addiction. Drugs and alcohol can poison bonds between loved ones, leading to codependency and enabling.
How Do You Know if You’re in a Toxic Relationship?
If a relationship makes you feel bad most of the time or you’re continually belittled, manipulated or unable to have a life apart from that person, chances are it’s toxic.
If you’re not sure if your relationship is toxic, here are some red flags of typical behavior to look for:
- Jealousy: Jealousy is a common experience, but there’s a line that’s crossed in unhealthy relationships. You may find your partner lashing out or feeling threatened by your relationships with others.
- Volatility: The other person may have extreme reactions or over-the-top behaviors that seem overwhelming. You may feel like you have to walk on eggshells to keep them from acting unpredictably.
- Isolation: Are you kept away from friends, family and other people? Does your partner make you choose between them and others?
- Manipulation: If you feel like your partner tries to control your decisions, emotions and actions, manipulation may be at the root of your interactions. Your partner may even try to convince you to do things you’re not comfortable with.
- Belittling: Whether it’s rude remarks played off as a joke or abusive name-calling, belittling is anything that makes you feel bad about yourself.
- Guilting: Everyone is responsible for their own actions and feelings. If your partner tries to make you feel like everything is your fault, they are guilting you. They may even threaten to hurt themselves if you don’t do what they say.
- Betrayal: Two-faced behavior, lying and cheating are all examples of betrayal.
How Does Substance and Drug Abuse Play a Role in Relationships?
There are two main relationship styles related to the cycle of addiction:
- Enabling: Enabling is a dysfunctional behavior exhibited by an addict’s close friends or family members. In an attempt to help, they end up tolerating and assisting with the harmful behavior. This could be through giving money, housing and emotional support, and even providing their addicted loved one with drugs or alcohol.
- Secure or insecure attachment style: Your attachment style forms in infancy and defines your relationships with others. When you are raised in an emotionally healthy home, you trust others and form healthy relationships later in life. In contrast, insecure attachment happens when your caregiver is unresponsive to your physical and emotional needs. Those with an insecure attachment style are more prone to addiction and toxic relationships.
When you recognize enabling behavior or insecure attachment, it’s possible to change. The most important thing is to understand how your relationships with others contribute to the addiction cycle.
Help Is Available at Gateway Foundation
If you feel that your relationships are an obstacle to your recovery, it’s time to break free. At Gateway Foundation, our holistic recovery program helps address the physical, emotional and relationship issues that are contributing to your substance abuse. Our evidence-based, individualized treatments are tailored to your needs and work to support your long-term recovery.
If you would like to learn more, we invite you to contact us today.