Recovering Addicts Discuss the Toll Substance Abuse Takes on Relationships

by Amanda Bartow

couple holding hands

Photo from Pixabay

Addiction damages a lot of aspects of the lives of those abusing drugs or alcohol as well as those of the people close to them. Countless relationships have been ruined by addiction, but with rehab, plenty of others have been salvaged. In the best cases, they become stronger than ever with the battles of the past behind them.

Regardless of how things work out in the end, there’s no question that addiction can take a toll on one’s significant other.

"It came to a point where I had to do something about it because I was mixing the pain medication with the alcohol, which made it extremely dangerous," said Curtis, an addict of alcohol and pain medication. "I was having walking blackouts for quite some time, and on this particular day I was mowing my lawn. I passed out and I was basically flat on the ground when my wife and son came to my rescue."

Imagine putting your spouse through that. Imagine the fear and the grief. I listened to a number of recovering addicts about what led to their addictions, their time in rehab, and their lives in sobriety. I can tell you that stories like Curtis’s are not uncommon.

Doug, who went to recovery for alcohol addiction after multiple DUIs, admitted he was "slowly walking away from" his wife and kids. Fortunately in his case, he has the love of his life to thank for helping him get on the right track. His wife pointed him to the facility that ultimately helped him get better.

Caitlin, who went to treatment for heroin and crack addiction, found that substance abuse didn’t necessarily take a toll on an otherwise good relationship. It actually got her into some troubling ones.

"When I was younger, I had a really bad pill habit," she explained. "I got sober for 23 months. I did good for a while, but then I relapsed and tried heroin for the first time, and ever since, I have struggled with being able to stop and stay clean. I was getting in really bad relationships. I was putting myself in really dangerous situations. I was emotionally dead, and I really just didn't want to live anymore. I realized it wasn't really an option to keep using anymore, so I had to do something different. It has seriously changed my life. It changed my way of thinking, and that has been my problem for so long."

Eric, a heroin user of two years, was at treatment facility A Forever Recovery for 45 days when he explained, "This program really brings up a lot of stuff from your past. It makes you really dig deep and really work for it. And you realize that it's not all about you. It's about the relationships you've damaged and how to heal those relationships. It's also rewarding because you get to set goals for yourself and make an action plan to achieve those goals, which I plan on doing."

"I'm excited to give my girlfriend her boyfriend back and be the real man I was supposed to be," said Steven, another heroin addict who is now on the right path.

"I went to treatment when I realized my heroin addiction was out of control," he said. "I was on death's doorstep."

Sean went to rehab after multiple bouts with pills and alcohol. His advice to other addicts is to "dance like no one’s watching and sing like no one’s listening.

"And in the end," he said, "the love you take is equal to the love you make."

The takeaways here are that drug abuse damages others besides the person doing the abusing, and that the damage does not have to be permanent if you’re willing to take the necessary steps to get better.

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