Alcoholism, drug abuse, and extramarital affairs often go hand in hand. Any of these in themselves is a good reason to end a relationship. A combination of the three is even more difficult to overcome. In this article, we take a look at why drug addicts exhibit certain destructive behaviors and how to mend a nearly severed bond (and when to call it quits).
Why Users Use
For many drug abusers, their journey into addiction begins with what they perceive to be a harmless experimentation. However, after their first high, many users believe their substance of choice is doing them more good than harm. Over time, a chemical dependency develops which can fundamentally alter a person’s brain function. They fixate on those initial good feelings. Compounding the problem is that it may take more and more of the drug to get there. As a user’s tolerance increases, his or her connection with reality begins to dwindle. This is where other issues and destructive behaviors begin.
Drugs and Domestic Violence
Addicts and alcoholics often become physically and mentally abusive to those they love. They may be angry that their spouse cannot supply them with enough money to support their habit or annoyed that children have woken them from a drug-induced sleep. The American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that between 40% and 60% of domestic violence cases are steeped in substance abuse. Even men and women who show no penchant for violence may become abusive as they fall deeper and deeper into addiction.
Drug addiction and alcohol use can lead to extramarital affairs. The reasons are varied but often center around social acceptance and seeking someone who condones these bad behaviors. An affair triggered by addiction has nothing to do with the addict’s love for their partner, which is one of the hardest things to accept once recovery begins. Drugs, alcohol, and infidelity are equal opportunity issues that don’t discriminate based on race, social status, or income. This is evidenced by the high-profile breakup of Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom.
The Road to Relationship Recovery
Recovery from addiction is a long and hard road. When marred by other complications, it is a road that may seem impossible to travel. Couples wishing to re-establish a bond must understand the first step is looking at the situation as honestly and openly as possible. Unnegotiable is that the drug use must end so that the addict can comprehend his or her actions. Drug rehabilitation therapy is a good place to start. This is offered in both inpatient or outpatient treatment centers that will offer the addict an opportunity to detox and cope with the physical symptoms of withdrawal. If both partners are willing to communicate with one another, there is hope that the relationship may continue.
The chemically-altered brain is not wired to ask for forgiveness. It doesn’t see how the addict’s behavior affects his or her loved ones. However, once the addict clears their head, they must make amends for their actions. Asking for forgiveness – and being honest about everything – is a good place to start. It will take time, but otherwise strong relationships may be able to reestablish trust if the addict is willing to be active and intentional in their recovery.
When the Relationship Dies
While small infractions in either of the three A’s (addiction, abuse, affairs) may be forgivable, sometimes, a combination of the three will damage the relationship beyond repair. When the addict won’t completely admit their issues, is unwilling to change, or when the victim of the situation simply can’t look at their partner in the face anymore, separation may be the best course of action. This outcome, while unfortunate, does not necessarily have to viewed as a strict negative. Ending a relationship can be a new starting point for both parties and may serve as a milestone and reminder to each that change is an inevitable part of the healing process.
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