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Effects of addiction: On significant others

Effects of addiction: On significant others

It feels good to run until your lungs and thighs burn, your feet talk back to you and the pounding of your heart thrums out your troubled thoughts … It feels good to relent yourself to the crashing and washing machine tumble and spin of ocean waves. Icy ocean water manipulating your body like a marionette.” – “Feels Good,” K.C.

But the one you love, pulling you down to watch them cheat, dancing with that devil of an addiction they’ve grown to love more than you. This torture does not feel good.

Here’s a look at the parasitic relationship between the addicted and their significant other as well as how to come out on the other side together.

Substance abuse and sexual intimacy

Intimacy is about connection, while addiction is rooted in escape. Trying to negotiate the two polar opposites defines the psychological concept of push-pull.

Robert Weiss explains the entanglement of intimacy issues and substance abuse. He reveals that addictions manifest most often in those with unaddressed trauma or psychological disorders.

Weiss further details that the substances used to self-medicate emotionally stunt one’s growth, saying that “… most addicts (of all types) will tell you that when they enter recovery they feel like they are the emotional age of whatever actual age they were when they started using.”

Due to the disengagement substance abuse fosters, an individual might be in a relationship and not able to perform sexually, while ironically maintaining nonintimate sexuality: one-night stands, affairs, pornography and more.

A study of nearly 40 women in relationships enmeshed in drug abuse revealed although some drugs seemed to enhance female sexual experience, others destroyed arousal. Women reported the same drugs that threw male partner’s libido into overdrive also were culprit to their man’s coercive and abusive behaviors.

According to Narcotics Anonymous, a study of more than 500 men formerly diagnosed with drug addiction showed most were left with significant impact to desire, erection and orgasm long after drug abuse.

Substance abuse and shared finances

Forbes published an article on the cost of addiction to families that enumerated an increasing addiction to cigarettes, which are about $6 a pack.

“At that rate, an addiction that once cost less than $25 a month to maintain can easily become a $180 per month addiction, and it’s not uncommon for many chain smokers to go through more than one pack a day… [Which] translates to around $2,160. … Other addictions are much more expensive, and people are often addicted to multiple things.”

Substance abuse recovery and maintaining the relationship

John Gottman, Ph.D., has been hailed as a relationship expert. He illuminates four criteria of what makes relationships fail. The reverse can be insightful into how to make it last through trials such as substance abuse.

  • Criticism: Instead of blaming, try intentionally esteeming.
  • Defensiveness: The opposite of shrugging off responsibility would be personally accountability of one’s own actions.
  • Contempt: The antidote to attacking and invalidating another’s perspective is embracing and acknowledging the partner’s experience.
  • Stonewalling: Refuse to let yourself shut down and withdraw; stay open.

Emily Tucker, a couples/family therapist and mental health expert, says that “the individual struggling with addiction experiences daily challenges such as intense anxiety, fear, denial, withdrawal symptoms, impaired judgment and obsessive thoughts about their drug of choice. Similarly, a co-addict (partner of an addict) will struggle daily with these same emotions, only they are usually obsessing about the addict and how to control the addictive behavior.”

The Sovereign Health Group is a nationwide leader in mental health rehabilitation, offering holistic treatment for eating disorders, substance abuse and dual diagnosis of mental health and addiction. If you or your significant other needs help, call our 24/7 helpline.

About the Author

Sovereign Health Group staff writer Kristin Currin is a mindful spirit swimming in metaphysical pools with faith as her compass. Her cover: a 30s-something Cinderella breadwinner of an all-sport blended family. Her repertoire includes writing poetry, lifestyle articles and TV news; editing, radio production and on-camera reporting. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at