Substance Abuse Can Effect A Relationship


Substance abuse can effect a relationship in many different ways.  When your starting your relationship or thinking about the person you love, the last thing on your mind is if they have a substance abuse problem. Yet, more and more research is showing that not only is substance abuse impacting relationships, but the numbers are growing. The combination of problems are endless:

  • One partner struggles with substance use while the other doesn’t
  • One partner struggles with substance use while the other is in recovery
  • Both partners struggles with substance use
  • Both partners are in recovery together

When drugs come into the relationship and become a primary focus or priority, the relationship goes to the back burner which means the health of the relationship does as well. When a person is struggling with substance abuse, primarily they are not thinking of their spouse but of how they can get the substance today.

Substances Commonly Abused

  • Alcohol- Intoxication causes social & physical problems
  • Cocaine: A Powerful Stimulant Drug
  • Opiods: Pain Relievers. Commonly used overused causing death
  • Marijuana: Creates Euphoria
  • Heroin: Opiod drug creating a euphoric state
  • PCP: Dissociative drug
  • Methamphetamines: Extremely addictive amphetamine drug
  • Inhalants: Less common but can be found in house hold products.

The risks are endless. When a partner is under the influence in a relationship, the probability of various abuses amplifies:

  • Physical Abuse: Any intentional act causing injury or trauma to another person or animal by way of bodily contact.
  • Emotional Abuse: A person subjecting, or exposing another person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Verbal Abuse: A negative defining statement told to the victim or about the victim, or by withholding any response, thereby defining the target as non-existent.
  • Sexual abuse: Undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another.

Some common themes to look out for in your relationship regarding Substance Abuse:


Some partners will even blame their abusive behavior on the substances they use. An example might be, “Well, that’s just the liquor talking.” “You know, how I get when I take that drug.” “I’m not really that person, I was under the influence” These excuses are common but aren’t valid for unhealthy or violent behavior occurring in the relationship.

Odd Behavior

Perhaps your partner starts taking money from your savings or money to pay bills and spends it on drugs. Are they suddenly keeping secrets from you about their whereabouts or where finances have been going? This could be a sign that they are struggling with substances.

Enabling (Are You Making It Worse?)

Enabling means to accommodate the addicted individual in order to protect them from facing the full consequences of their drug use. So, if you are helping an individual continue their substance use, you could be an enabler.

What can you do to address this?

Counseling: It may be time to for you and/or your partner to think about seeing a professional. Substance abuse is a tough habit to break and a licensed professional who specializes in it could help in journey towards recovery A national hotline where you can speak to someone about education, finding treatment, and support

Talk To Them: Seriously, sit down with them and tell them how this is affecting the relationship. If you feel afraid for them or feel that the relationship is getting out of control with the substances their using or your using, share that with them. The key here is honesty and transparency. If you both work together, you can help each other towards the road to recovery and an even closer relationship.

We can help. Online couples counseling allows you to participate in the process from the comfort of your own home. We have years of experience working with couples who are struggling with the effects of substance abuse. Call today to learn more. There is hope!