It’s not a secret that addiction ruins relationships. Why does this happen and where does it begin? When a person is addicted, their priorities are reordered. Over time, the drink or the drug becomes more and more important. Eventually it starts crowding out everything else, education, career, hobbies and even the people we love. But there is a way forward for relationships through recovery.
How Addiction Works
Addiction is insidious in many ways, perhaps the sneakiest thing it does is to hijack the brains reward pathways. Our brains use chemicals called neurotransmitters, in part, to help condition us to repeat behaviors which are in our best interest. For example, the sex drive reinforces procreative behavior to ensure the survival of the species. We need to make babies for humankind to continue to exist.
Hunger lets us know it’s time to nourish the body. Cravings, when they’re working as intended, even prompt us to eat certain types of foods to get specific nutrients we may need more of. But modern life has thrown a bit of a wrench in the works. Food is plentiful for most of us and high calorie, nutrient-dense foods with lots of fats, proteins and salt are extra-appealing to our hunger drive. Many of us over indulge and end up less healthy as a result. Some of us even become addicted to food, in fact.
Alcohol and Drug Addiction Work Against Us
Alcohol and drugs work much the same way. They stimulate the brain’s reward pathways, release or cause the accumulation of certain neurotransmitters, which you can think of as “feel good” chemicals. This, in turn, begins to reinforce negative behaviors which are actually not in our best interest. More than that, these behaviors can stack up over time and bring terrible consequences. Addiction ruins relationships, both romantic and platonic. Addiction ruins careers, it ruins finances, it ruins education, it can ruin your physical health. Addiction can even kill you. It kills tens of thousands of Americans every year, in fact.
Because the disease of addiction happens within the mind itself, the organ we use to think, where our consciousness resides, it takes a novel approach to fight it. This is part of the reason why trying to “tough it out” will willpower alone so often fails. It’s almost as if your own mind is conspiring against you. This is also why outside help is so important. Spirituality is one form of help from outside yourself. The spiritual recovery mindset helps to reorder your priorities. It helps you to focus on what’s important and prioritize self-care. Professional help from a therapist or addiction counselor is also invaluable and can often be the difference between life and death for an addict.
The most important thing to remember about addiction is that it’s treatable. Recovery, when taken seriously, can work wonders in restoring relationships with family, friends and loved ones. And recovery starts with understanding where we went wrong in the first place so that we can get back on track. With the right kind of help and support, we can beat our addictions and reclaim our lives once again.
How Addiction Ruins Relationships
Family, friends and romantic partners all suffer when addiction takes hold. People who are addicted may start to act differently, be more secretive or even become unreliable. They may begin to distance themselves from those they love and begin to prioritize their addiction over everything else, including people they care about. These behaviors can lead to huge issues in relationships both romantic and platonic. Addicts might find themselves feeling alienated from loved ones who don’t understand why they can’t just quit using drugs or alcohol.
The addiction takes over, often leading to lies and manipulation. This can quickly break down trust and cause irreparable damage to the relationship. It’s not uncommon for an addicted person to become isolated from their friends and family, leaving them feeling alone, scared and without support. Over time, this alienation can lead the addict to feel like their loved ones have abandoned them which leads to a vicious cycle of using more and isolating further while risking greater consequences as well as more damage done to relationships with family members, coworkers or romantic partners.
Repairing Relationships Ruined by Addiction
We know that addiction ruins relationships, sadly many of us know this from first hand experience. But part of the magic of recovery is that many of these relationships can be repaired and even strengthened. This is another part of recovery where spirituality can play an important role. Repairing relationships broken by the things we may do in our addiction is really about reestablishing trust. It’s also about making amends wherever possible to do so without harming others. Amends are not the same thing as apologies. Apologies often fall on deaf ears, especially when the same bridges have been burned time and time again. Sincere as they may be, apologies don’t really do anything to fix the damage. Making amends is a much different process. It is about making an honest and earnest attempt to right your wrongs to the best of your ability so that you and the person you have harmed can both heal and move on. Amends aren’t always 100% successful at achieving everything you might hope for either. But if they are done properly, they will almost always make things better than they were and give you a path forward.
It’s this kind of spiritual recovery that helps to repair the damage done to our relationships. Understanding addiction, recognizing the toll it takes on us and those around us, and taking positive steps towards recovery are key steps in restoring your relationships. It may not always be easy but it is almost always worth the effort. With commitment and hard work, we can restore ourselves and our broken relationships back together again.
Getting Help for Addiction and Mental Health Disorders
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Through the Archway wants to help. Recovery is hard work. For many of us, it’s the hardest thing we ever do. But it is also an opportunity for tremendous personal growth and transformation. No one is ever the same after going through the process of recovery as it was intended in the 12-step fellowship model. It is truly an enlightening experience that increases self-awareness and can, if we let it, repair most of the damage done in addiction leaving us stronger and wiser than ever before. If you need help or just want to know more about repairing relationships ruined by addiction, give us a call at (844) 620-1546.