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Addiction and Relationship Issues

Addiction and Relationship Issues

This article will help you understand the ways that addictions affect and influence relationships

Why Relationships Matter

Relationship issues and addiction are commonly intertwined. The effects of addiction often spread far from simply the individual, causing common relationship problems and putting home life into chaos.

When recovering from a substance use disorder, dealing with relationship problems can help ensure long-term sobriety and go a long way toward healing damaged relationships.

The thing about relationships, love, and friendship is that they’re essential human needs, not just pleasant pastimes. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, feeling loved and included are essential to becoming the best version of oneself.

These relationships give us a secure base from which we can reach our goals, including goals towards recovery and away from addiction.

Common Relationship Problems

Problems in relationships take many forms, but some relationship issues are more common than others. The most common problems in relationships usually come in the form of:
Most relationships will struggle with one or more of these problems, but they aren’t necessarily a sign of impending doom. With concerted effort and a willingness to work together, most couples can overcome these types of problems and return to relationship harmony.

Signs of Serious Couple Relationship Problems

Nonetheless, there are bigger issues than those common relationship problems. Dr. John and Julie Gottman have been studying love and relationships for over 40 years, trying to determine how couples thrive and what tears them apart.

One of their most robust findings is what’s now known as the Four Horsemen of the Relationship Apocalypse, the four indicators that indicate a relationship is heading for disaster. If one of these elements crops up when partners disagree, they might have serious unresolved relationship issues.


Criticism refers to one partner making personal attacks against the other. It’s distinct from a complaint, which is a general expression of discontent about a certain situation. Instead, criticism invokes that the problem is not the situation but the person.

Example of criticism: “You’re late again. You have no regard for other people’s time, do you? You are so selfish and self-centered.”


Contempt is similar to criticism, though far worse. People who are contemptuous cast themselves as morally superior and degrade their partners’ worth. The target of contempt is looked down upon, shunned, and disregarded, making it truly one of the meanest things that can happen in a relationship.

Contempt may be part of controlling behavior, where one partner is attempting to make the other feel worthless, so they are more compliant to their selfish demands.

Example of contempt: “What do you mean you don’t understand? You don’t have the intelligence to interpret English? I can’t believe I’m seeing somebody that’s so beneath me. You’re a disgrace.”


Defensiveness is casting blame on a partner instead of admitting fault. We’ve all been defensive before, but if somebody is entirely unwilling to accept their parts in situations, it’s a sign of problems to come. Defensiveness could also be a component of keeping secrets, as the deflection of blame keeps them from explaining their secretive behavior.

Example of defensiveness: “Did you pick up the present like you said?”
Defensive Response: “I was at work all day. You knew I was slammed this week. You should have just done it yourself.”


Stonewalling refers to when one partner completely shuts down during an argument. Instead of resolving the issue, they simply turn away, repeat a compulsive task, or act busy. Stonewalling is typically a reaction to being overwhelmed by emotions and creates an inability to settle the relationship issues.

Addiction Problems in Relationships

Addiction can lead to any of those serious problems mentioned above. When somebody is misusing substances, they can hide their behavior and lash out when confronted.

They may become defensive or act contemptuously to their partner to protect their addiction from outside intervention. In addition, people with substance use disorders can turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their emotions, letting them go unresolved in the relationship itself.

How to Know When to Stay and When to Leave a Relationship

Deciding whether to stay or leave a relationship can be a daunting task.

There are countless variables involved, and it can be challenging to determine whether relationship issues can be worked out or if they are here to stay. Therefore, seeking the help of a relationship therapist would be beneficial for any couple trying to determine whether their relationship issues can be resolved or not.

For people entering recovery, it should be noted that the partner’s substance use can have a substantial impact on their recovery. Research indicates that people in early recovery are more likely to relapse when a significant other uses substances.

When to Stay in a Relationship

If a relationship has been primarily healthy but has a few significant problems that could be fixed, the issues may be resolved. So long as both partners are prepared for dealing with relationship problems and willing to work on themselves, there is still hope for the relationship.

When to Leave a Relationship

Leaving a relationship can be difficult, but sometimes it’s the best choice for both parties. Some people having relationship problems simply cannot overcome them.

If a relationship involves emotional or physical abuse, criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling, or if the partner is secretive and controlling, these are signs of a relationship gone wrong. Now’s the time to find a healthier life for oneself.

Relationship Problems

Tips to Build a Stronger Relationship

A healthy and strong relationship can be the highlight of anyone’s life. These few key tips can keep a relationship’s love life healthy and strong for years to come:

Spend Quality Time Together: Sometimes this aspect means scheduling this time in busy lives, but it is worth the effort.

Emphasize Healthy Communication: If communication breaks down, people can talk past each other and not understand their partner’s needs.

Keep Physical Intimacy Alive: Sex is an important part of any loving relationship, and if it is beginning to falter, the relationship may falter as well.

Be Prepared for Ups and Downs: All relationships have problems from time to time, but being committed to the long-term partnership can carry both through the struggles.

If people follow these tips and keep an eye on the common relationship problems we have outlined above, they can expect to have a strong and nurturing relationship for years to come.

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.

What is an Intervention?

In a situation involving substance use disorder, planning an intervention may be the best, and safest, option to help someone who is living with an addiction. So, what does intervention mean? An intervention is a strategically planned process of confronting the person who is living with addiction about the consequences of their actions while simultaneously encouraging them to accept help and treatment for their addiction.1

The key feature of an intercession is that while it can be an immensely helpful option in convincing a person that they should seek treatment, it should not be done solely by friends and family members. Without the aid of a specialist, or someone who is equally trained in the process of interventions, an intervention may do more harm than good.

An intervention specialist is someone that has been professionally trained in helping people break free from their addictions. They can help a person without judgment, emotions, or blame to understand how their actions are negatively impacting themselves and those that they care about.

When performed properly, without judgment or pressure, and with the aid of a qualified intercession specialist, 80-90% of substance use interventions are successful in convincing the patient to seek help.

Early Intervention

Treatment is more effective the earlier that it begins for an alcohol or drug abuse disorder. As with any other health condition, early intervention and treatment can prevent more significant problems further on in life.

Unfortunately, in many cases, an alcohol addiction intervention or a drug abuse intercession does not take place until most other options have been exhausted. It can be difficult for those struggling with a substance use disorder to realize or admit that they need help.

It often takes a life-altering event, such as a divorce, loss of employment, or a housing crisis for a person to be willing to seek treatment. Because early
alcohol and drug intercession can be so beneficial, first responders must be able to recognize the symptoms of substance abuse.3

What is a Nursing Intervention?

Nursing interventions are often the first time a patient will experience care for their disorder. It takes place when someone enters a care facility such as a clinic or hospital for a condition that may or may not be caused or exacerbated by their substance use disorder.

After initial evaluation and stabilization, a nurse will take action to help their patient by suggesting healthy physical or emotional coping mechanisms for a patient that wants to quit using the substance that they are addicted to. The nurse will also be able to offer education and information to the patient about other treatment facilities or care providers that can help them on their road to recovery.

Alcohol Intervention

A Further Look at Interventions

Nearly 50% of adults in America regularly drink alcohol, and it is believed that as many as 25% of those Americans have an alcohol addiction, most commonly in the form of binge drinking. In many situations, once a person with an alcohol use disorder realizes the way that alcohol is negatively impacting their life, they can reduce the amount that they drink, or even quit entirely, without outside assistance.

However, some people that have an alcohol use disorder are unable to see how their addiction is negatively affecting them. In this situation, an alcohol use intercession can be extremely beneficial. Some of the benefits of interventions include:

Drug Intervention

A Further Look at Interventions

Over nineteen million adults struggle with a drug abuse disorder and of those, nearly 74% also struggle with a co-existing alcohol abuse disorder. Drug abuse and addiction can be a much harder disorder to recover from than alcohol addiction, particularly due to the high rate of co-use that most people with a substance use disorder experience.

In many cases, suddenly stopping the use of an illicit substance can be just as harmful, if not more so than using the substance itself. The side effects and withdrawal symptoms that a person may experience when they decide to stop using a substance can be severe and at times life-threatening.

Luckily, substance use is a highly treatable disorder and several medications can help a person wean off of illicit substances in a safe, sustained, and monitored manner. A drug abuse intervention can help someone realize that they have options and that they can recover safely and healthily.

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.