Although much of society, unfortunately, views addicts as “low-lives” who are only interested in their drug of choice, the fact is, people who suffer from addiction are human just like everyone else. I know relationships with addiction involved can be taboo, but it’s a fact of life. Anyone can fall in love and want to make a relationship work… Including people with substance abuse issues, mental illness, broken families, or various bouts of rehab.
However, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone the troubles that can come when two addicts in a codependent relationship fail to attempt recovery. The issues with this type of dynamic can deeply affect each of the people involved, as well as their loved ones.
Amongst survivors in recovery and those who are still struggling with the effects of ongoing drug abuse, there is a wide range of opinions on this topic. In this article, we’ll explore the main point: can two addicts have a successful relationship?
How Addiction Affects Relationships
While it’s important to acknowledge that everyone is different and each relationship is unique, it’s also vital to understand that addicts have a tendency to display common behavioral patterns that can cause a rift in any type of relationship.
Many types of relationship dynamics can become one and the same when it comes to being involved with someone who suffers from addiction. For example, codependent behavior is one of the most common problems faced while being in an intimate relationship with an addict.
Codependency refers to a dysfunctional dynamic where the addicted partner is enabled by the other person involved. The “caretaker” will often devote their entire life and wellbeing into taking care of and enabling the person with an addiction, while simultaneously not helping them recover or allowing them to get sober. This kind of dynamic can happen in romantic relationships as well as between friends, parents, children, siblings and other family members.
Of course, codependency is not a relationship trait that applies only to addicts, but its prevalence is mostly concentrated around those who have an addictive behavior. This is because having a substance addiction changes a person’s entire self, the way they act towards others, and the way they move through life and function. It can also result in a lack of personal boundaries.
How Addiction Affects a Person’s Behavior & Relationship Patterns
There are many specific behavioral traits that are commonly associated with people who have a drug or alcohol addiction. They’re characteristics that will often poison their relationships and drive away the people they love. Some of the most common traits or habits an addict can have include, but are not limited to:
- Lying: Addicts have a tendency to lie, mislead people and generally be dishonest about their intentions, their actions, and their feelings. In trying to protect themselves and their addiction, sometimes lying can spiral out of control. This can often result in false promises of quitting their drug abuse habit as they continue to do it in secret. Many times, people may continue lying about where all the money is going while it feeds their habit.
- Manipulation: Alcohol and drug addicts will often resort to blaming and guilting others for their own actions and habits. They might accuse their loved ones of false things, such as not wanting them to be happy, all in an effort to manipulate their relationships into going the way they want them to.
- Violence: Many drugs have proven to make a person violent amongst other dangerous side effects. This is why up to 60% of domestic violence incidents involve substance abuse. Drug addicts are more likely to be physically and emotionally abusive towards others.
What Can Go Wrong Being Two Addicts in a Relationship?
Now that we’ve established the common issues that will usually prevail when one addict is in a relationship with someone sober, let’s imagine a codependent relationship where both of the people involved are drug addicts. That means both of the participants will probably display at least some of, if not all, of the behavioral traits that come with a substance abuse issue.
Who’s in Love With Who?
In a relationship between two drug addicts, neither individual involved will be able to have a clear, unbiased mind when addressing the issues of the relationship. While two addicts might be very much in love, wanting to connect and have a normal relationship, their substance abuse disorders likely get in the way.
Two addicts in a relationship means double the unhealthy coping habits, potential violence, and manipulation. It also leaves risk for lies, back-and-forth blaming, and long-term drug or alcohol dependency. This kind of occurrence can lead to the development of unique, toxic dynamics that could be very dangerous and unproductive in the long run.
For example, one of the age-old saying of treating substance addiction disorders is that you can’t get help if you don’t want help. When an addict begins their path to recovery and joins a rehab program, this is often a result of the influence of loved ones pushing them to get better and realize they have a problem. If an addict is in love with another addict, neither of them have a great chance of getting sober, as they will most likely perpetuate and encourage each other’s addictions. This isn’t always true, obviously, but it is a recurring pattern.
What if One Person Wants to Recover?
On the other hand, if only one of the participants of the relationship decides to seek treatment in order to beat their addiction, this can cause a great rift in the relationship.
The other person involved might support their choice to get better, while not wanting to enter treatment or quit abusing drugs themselves. This can cause the recovering addict’s priorities to change or be unsuccessful. The lack of common life goals might eventually lead to their relationship either ending, or result in the recovering addict quickly relapsing before finishing their recovery from addiction.
If you want to get sober but find yourself in a serious relationship with another addicted person, it’s in the best interest of both of you that you seek treatment and get out of that relationship. Your recovery, health, and life are far more important in the bigger picture. There are other people out there and getting sober is the greatest gift you can give yourself– and any future relationship of yours.
Can a Couple Get Sober Together?
The short answer is: yes, it’s possible. But it’s also difficult and statistically unlikely. Many rehab treatment centers offer recovery routes known as couple’s programs for addicts who are in a relationship. Their staff may be able to guide you into having a relationship where both of you are sober and in recovery.
It’s important to understand that the recovery process is usually a deeply personal and individual. Rehab professionals recommend that during detox and recovery, you should focus deeply on yourself and your well-being. While you will probably be part of one or many support groups with other recovering addicts, the common sentiment is that you should be relearning who you are as a person, without the substance in your system influencing you.
You might do a complete 180 and discover a personality you hadn’t experienced in a long time, and so may your partner. Bottom line is, you’ll both be going through a lot of changes that, while positive, your relationship might not be able to stand.
Final Verdict: Can Two Addicts in a Relationship Work Out?
In 2011, an American medical research team deduced that men suffering from opioid addiction were more likely to be physically, sexually and psychologically aggressive in a relationship. As for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, their professionals confirmed that the most common cause for pain and unhappiness amongst couples was the existence of a drug or alcohol addiction.
Overall, addiction is a disease, and it’s well-known to destroy many if not all of one’s relationships if left untreated. This is why it’s statistically unlikely for two people currently abusing drugs to work out in the long run. However, this doesn’t mean that two codependent people are destined to never be together.
If you’re an addict who is in love with another person with substance addiction, it’s essential for both of you to seek treatment and get better before you’re able to focus on having a healthy relationship together. The purpose of treatment programs is usually to create a better quality of life for the married couple. The best thing to do is usually to take some time apart in order to focus on your own individual journeys to recovery. Overall, individual therapy can also have important impacts on both partners.
Addiction recovery is not only always possible, but it often also opens many paths in life back to hobbies, interests, careers and relationships that once seemed hopeless. Rarely, two addicts may be able to find themselves back together after healing their addiction issues apart. The main relationship to focus on prioritizing and getting back with is yourself.
If you need help with any addiction concerns, call us at Opus Health.