5 ways addicts typically behave in relationships


From distrust and abusive behavior to health complications and mental illness, addiction can seriously damage a relationship. A partner struggling with substance abuse can seem like a completely different person, and their sober partner may feel lost, exhausted, frustrated, and afraid for their safety—which are completely valid responses. Loving someone with an addiction is hard. If you are in a relationship with an addict, the first thing you should do is make sure that you, your partner, and whomever else you live with is safe. Here are 5 addict behaviors to watch out for if you are in a relationship with someone who abuses substances.


Self-destructive Behavior in Relationships

1. Addicts are Irresponsible

An addict’s main goal is to feed their addiction, which can result in dangerous, reckless, and selfish behaviors. For example, you might start to realize they’re out late binge drinking or partying with friends multiple times a week. These kinds of actions lead to blackouts and morning hangovers that make them late or cause them to call in sick to work. If you notice that they’re coming back from errands or hangouts in a different state of mind, that may mean that they’re also driving while drunk. If you, a friend, or a coworker tries to address their irresponsible behavior, they may react poorly and tension may build in previously stable relationships at work and at home.


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2. Addicts May be Depressed

Addiction is a disease and it can often be connected to other mental illnesses. Since depression is both a symptom and a cause of addiction, you may notice concerning behaviors linked with both. For example, if they often drink alone just to get drunk or they have no motivation to do anything, they may be suffering from substance-induced depression. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness add fuel to the fire and you may notice them drinking more when they are sad, at which point the habit becomes a dangerous, cyclical pattern. They may lose interest in the things they used to enjoy or begin neglecting their own needs and self-care routines. People with a family history of substance abuse are more likely to abuse substances themselves and it may become hard for them to get along with anyone who doesn’t also use.


3. Addicts Can be Abusive

Addiction can foster abusive behavior in addicts. Abusive behavior can be physical, verbal, or emotional, which can be directed towards either party in the relationship. Addicts may try to blame you, guilt trip you, or coerce you to avoid facing their own shame in order to get what they want. They may also lash out with passive aggression or even physical abuse if things get really bad and unsafe. They may view concern, intervention, or confrontation as a personal attack, which can lead to irrational outbursts, unwarranted arguments, defensiveness, and aggression. Codependency is another form of abuse that is often overlooked because it isn’t always negative. Unhealthy codependency breeds enabling and controlling behavior in toxic, one-sided relationships suffering from addiction. Codependency can be especially destructive if there are two addicts in a relationship because they will enable each other’s use frequently because it’s part of their relationship bonding.


4. Addicts Rely on Deception

Partners struggling with addiction may act shady and deceitful as they try to hide their addiction. You may catch them taking money and spending more than they intended, which often leads to depleting shared savings. They may disappear late at night for long periods of time without anything planned, claiming that they’re “meeting a friend” or “running an errand.” For intravenous drug users, you may notice marks on the skin in places that can’t be seen easily, like the thigh. If you confront them about these kinds of behaviors, or ask concerned questions, they will often lie to cover up their disease because they’re ashamed. Partners in relationships with addicts may lose trust in their partners as the lies deepen and become more intricate.


5. Addicts Will Become Distant

You may notice that things don’t feel right anymore and they don’t seem like the same person they used to be. Typical addict behavior in relationships involves neglecting all of their relationships and only spending time with the people who share their addiction. Their sleeping and eating habits will change dramatically and they will often blame it on something else. One of the reasons addicts in relationships can be so distant and emotionally unavailable is because they’re trying to maintain their relationship with their substance of choice, giving it priority over their relationship with you. Their addiction takes precedence over every other relationship they have because they have literally become dependent on their substances.


Learn More About Addiction

How addicts behave in relationships can pose a real struggle for a sober partner. Addiction can have a wide range of effects on someone’s behavior that can cause serious tension between partners. The effects can vary in severity from person to person, but if you have an addict in your life or someone you think might be struggling with substance abuse, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for concerning changes in their behavior. While it’s important to remember that addiction is a disease and not a choice, it’s also critical to maintain healthy boundaries while your loved one is using. Addiction is a challenging thing to help someone overcome alone, which is why we are here to help. At Oregon Trail Recovery, we can provide your partner with all of the resources they need to heal and overcome their addiction. They’ll have access to solid, supportive communities and services to help them recover with the close oversight and assistance of professionals. Contact us today.


📱 Need help with substance misuse? Get help now. Sign up for SMS Recovery Support