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How Drug Use & Opiate Addiction Changes Relationships

If you know someone with an addiction, you know the effect drugs can have on them. Addiction has the potential to impact all aspects of someone’s life – their happiness, career and most importantly, their relationships. As is the case with most substance abuse, opiate addiction takes control of the user and their priorities shift causing their relationships to suffer.

While no two cases of opiate addiction are the same, often, an addict’s behaviour will change, even towards those who care about them the most. If you are concerned about a loved one who is addicted to opiates, here are five signs to watch out for in your relationship:

You Catch Them Lying Constantly

When your loved one becomes addicted to opioids, one of the most common changes in your relationship is a sense of distrust. When someone was once willing to openly communicate with you suddenly starts to lie, it’s hard to ignore. Seemingly simple topics such as their whereabouts, who they were spending time with or where money is being spent leads to complicated answers. Some people may even isolate themselves as a way to cover up their lies.

The root cause for feeling the need to lie ranges from personal guilt, embarrassment and/or denial. Chemical changes in the brain due to opiate addiction can also lend a hand to an increase in selfish behaviour. Pay attention to your loved one’s body language and tone of voice. Avoiding eye contact, fidgeting or playing with an object while speaking as well as too much/too little detail while recounting stories are all signs that they’re lying.

Mother and son crying on a couch

You’ll Likely Lose Your Trust in Them

Honesty and trust are at the foundation of any healthy and successful relationship – romantic or otherwise. Once this is broken, it’s incredibly hard to repair without seeking treatment.

As a parent, child, partner, sibling or friend, losing trust in your loved one can be detrimental. It’s natural to blame yourself for the sudden change in your relationship, questioning what more could have been done to help or what could’ve been done differently. Conversely, your loved one will often blame their actions on their addictions, sidestepping any responsibility and placing the blame elsewhere. In addition, opiate addictions can make rebuilding relationships seem like too much work for the addict. This energy could be put to better use in order to acquire the substances that are driving them away from their relationships.

You’ll Argue More

Drugs such as alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine (crystal meth) and steroids are known to amplify existing anger management issues. Since addicts may become hypersensitive to what’s going on around them, the smallest of irritants can be serious triggers. If they can’t control their erratic behaviour, disagreements can quickly evolve into physical or emotionally abusive relationships.

The best way to avoid any form of aggression or physical violence with the person suffering from opiate addiction is to stay calm. Don’t take what they say personally, even if it’s hurtful. When trying to address their actions do so when they are sober and are capable of understanding what you tell them. If you or someone you know is in danger please contact your local authorities, women’s shelter or family services. As a precautionary measure, it’s important to ensure that you have a reliable friend’s number on speed dial in case of an emergency. A list of helpful numbers offered by the Government of Canada is available on their website for those struggling with addiction or needing support.

Woman sitting next to the bed, frustrated

You’ll Enable Their Opiate Addiction in the Name of Love

Sometimes, loved ones of people suffering from opiate addiction tend to enable their drug use without realizing it. It’s likely you may have clouded judgement when it comes to your suffering loved one and their opiate addiction. Most commonly, the people stuck in this situation are parents or partners.

If you’re unsure if you’re enabling a loved one suffering from opiate addiction, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Are you willing to lie for them?
  • Do you call in sick to work or school for them?
  • Do you make excuses for why they don’t show up to gatherings with friends or family? 
  • Are you even willing to take the blame for your loved one in certain social situations?
  • Do you have an explanation ready for why they’re acting recklessly or if they’re being insensitive? 

You may be enabling someone’s addiction if you are working hard to minimize the negative impact your loved one is causing. If this is the case, rather than trying to help them yourself, it’s best to seek professional help. Freedom From Addiction has specialized, targeted programs and personalized treatments for all addicts and their unique needs. 

You Are a Part of a Codependent Relationship

Enabling an addiction in a relationship can lead to a codependent relationship. Codependency is a behavioural condition that applies to relationships where one person relies on the other for nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. In the case of opiate addiction, the enabler is codependent on the addict and helps them maintain their addiction because they are needed. Some common signs that you are in a codependent relationship include:

  • You give up your happiness in order to make the other person happy
  • All of your efforts are focused on the needs of the other person
  • You feel that your needs and wants aren’t being met because of the other person
  • You continue to maintain this relationship despite hurt feelings and possible abuse
  • You justify the other person’s addiction and make excuses for their behaviour

The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one is to be honest, understanding and accepting that they might need treatment for drug addiction. Establishing healthy boundaries and seeking guidance may be the next step in a crisis situation. Consider staging an intervention to show them you love them and convince them to ask for help.

It’s Not Too Late, There Is Hope

To fully support your loved one who is struggling with opiate addiction, it’s important to have an understanding of what they need from you. What this ultimately means is changing how you care for your loved one – including seeking treatment for addiction.

If your friend or family member is displaying signs of opiate addiction, put your trust in a team of accredited professionals who value the individual’s safety, health and happiness above all else. Plus, personalized opiate addiction treatment programs are tailored to the patient’s needs with a focus on providing overall support throughout their recovery process, including mental, physical, and emotional healing.

For advice on how to help someone you care about who is struggling with opiate addiction contact us today for guided, professional support.


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