Recent Articles

How Addiction Affects Loved Ones

October 23, 2019

Actions of a person who is addicted to drugs and alcohol not only hurt themselves, but it devastates the people who are closest to him or her. Addiction can take a serious toll on friends, family, coworkers, and anybody else who is close to the addict. As a result, relationships are damaged and trust is broken. Sometimes, the effects of addiction on loved ones can make an already painful situation feel seemingly hopeless. 


Unfortunately, like most things in life, the behaviors of an addict don’t run on a one-way road. A person who habitually and uncontrollably abuses alcohol or drugs often experiences negative consequences that heavily and tragically affect those around them. While it is terribly difficult to battle addiction, it is just as difficult to love an addict. However, until a person who is addicted to substances realizes the full depth and weight of their actions, they may continue to live in denial and hurt the ones they love. Although the situations are endless, here are a few ways that addiction affects loved ones. 


Addiction Creates Caretaker Roles

One of the most well-known and common effects of addiction on loved ones is the development of codependent relationships. These relationships are also known as caretaking ones. Codependency develops when a loved one begins to feel responsible for protecting an addict. Whether this person is bailing the addict out of their consequences, lying to cover up behaviors, or taking care of an addict’s financial and social obligations, this type of relationship is unhealthy. 


Caretakers usually begin to suffer from a low sense of self-worth. As a result of the pain caretakers experience, these individuals can begin to suffer emotionally and physically. They can become extremely stressed, anxious, depressed, and neglectful of their own self-care. Similarly, caretakers may stop taking care of their own needs and responsibilities in order to care for the addict. Not only is this unhealthy, but it enables an addict to continue using drugs or alcohol. 


Addiction Cultivates Negative Thinking and Emotional Turmoil

People often feed off of the emotions of others. Consequently, loved ones may begin to feel numerable negative emotions as a result of their loved one’s substance abuse. The family and friends may blame themselves for the behaviors of the addict. They may obsessively question what they did wrong and how they can help their addicted loved one. In addition, addiction creates a level of distrust. After all, people suffering from addiction frequently lie to their loved ones to cover up their behaviors. 


Loved ones may work tirelessly to convince an addict to go to rehab. However, when the addict refuses, his or her loved ones are often met with feelings of defeat and helplessness. This depression, stress, and anxiety can take a great toll on loved ones of people with substance use disorders.


Addiction Can Lead to Emotional or Physical Abuse

People who suffer from addiction can be extremely manipulative. Although they may not mean to be malicious, they sometimes go to dire lengths to get what they want. This manipulation can turn into emotional abuse. Loved ones of addicts may begin to feel guilt and shame due to the manipulative behaviors and words of an addict. 


In addition to emotional abuse, addiction can lead to physical abuse as well. Sometimes, drugs and alcohol make individuals act out in violent or aggressive behaviors. Unfortunately, between 40-60% of cases of intimate partner violence involve a person struggling with substance abuse. More than 20% of male perpetrators report using drugs or alcohol prior to a severe act of violence as well.[1] As a result, substance abuse plays a huge role in exacerbating violence in relationships. 


Addiction Can Destroy Relationships

In cases where a parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they may lose their children. On the other hand, addiction can lead to divorce. Whatever the case may be, addiction is notorious for destroying relationships. 


– 33% of children who entered foster care in 2017 had parents who were addicted to drugs. [2]

– A study involving 17,000 participants with a history of alcoholism estimates that 50% had a divorce due to their drinking. [3]


Addiction can destroy friendships as well. Friends may get sick and tired of watching their loved ones hurt themselves. On the other hand, addiction drives individuals to do things they would normally not do, such as lie, steal, and cheat. Sometimes, friends can reach a point where they can no longer feel comfortable and safe being friends with an addict. 


Finding Help for an Addicted Loved One

If an addicted loved one is willing to seek treatment, that is the best possible option for healing relationships broken by addiction. Many treatment centers offer family counseling. These programs can help facilitate communication, healing, and healthy boundaries between an addict and their loved ones.


Although addiction has the potential to ravage relationships and hurt those who love an addict, recovery is possible. In addition, many recovery programs encourage participants to make amends and do whatever possible to fix their past. Fortunately, for the millions of people living in recovery, addiction doesn’t have to be the end of the road. Addiction treatment programs can help addicts and loved ones alike to change their behaviors and heal from addiction.


If you or a loved one is ready to start the journey towards lasting sobriety, contact Truth Recovery Center in South Florida today. 



  1. https://www.asam.org/resources/publications/magazine/read/article/2014/10/06/intimate-partner-violence-and-co-occurring-substance-abuse-addiction
  2. https://www.childtrends.org/one-in-three-children-entered-foster-care-in-fy-2017-because-of-parental-drug-abuse
  3. https://www.araglegal.com/individuals/learning-center/topics/family-and-relationships/link-between-alcoholism-and-divorce