Many of the discussions surrounding addiction tend to focus on the physical and psychological effects of substance abuse. The effects of drug addiction, however, expand beyond these issues and further encompasses one’s social health and wellbeing.
Social health and wellbeing.
Social health support systems are correlated strongly with individual success, self-esteem, and happiness in life.
The sad truth is that substance abuse and drug addiction hurts black relationships of all kinds; family, friendships, and romantic relationship. These relationships can be put under enormous strain when someone suffers from addiction.
The damage associated with addiction
When addiction enters the mix, many of the elements that make for successful relationships become more difficult to maintain. Once a substance user progresses from the occasional user to an addict, they are likely to have a single focus: obtaining and using substances.
Since relationships often cannot compete with euphoric experiences of substance use, the user will typically put less time and energy into maintaining the relationship, allowing various damaging elements to begin to surface.
How the SECRECY of drug addiction hurts black relationships
We know that in itself, drug addiction hurts black relationships but sometimes the act of secrecy is the biggest issue.
Someone that begins using alcohol or other drugs excessively may not be outwardly open about their use to strong feelings of shame, guilt, and fear of judgment. They may think that others will not be secretive with their loved ones. They may lie about it: where they are, who they are with, the events of the day, why they behaving differently, why money is missing at times, secrecy will increase to the point of the complete distancing or isolation. This can put enormous strain on any relationship.
With increasing lying and deception associated with secrecy, it is only a matter of time until the significant other begins to notice differences between fact and fiction.
The loved one may begin to develop trust issues due to the perceived lack of respect, honesty, and loyalty. Trust is an essential to feelings of safety and care in a relationship and reduced trust often leads to the emergence of a number of relationship-damaging issues like jealousy, anger, fear, and resentment.
Anger and Abuse
Anger and violence can become concerns as a relationship deteriorates. Frustrations will be high, but if someone is using a substance that is known to cause aggression, the situation may be even more dangerous.
Drugs known to increase anger, irritability, and violence include. Alcohol, cocaine, MDMA, crystal meth, Ritalin and steroids.
Living with an addict or alcoholic can put the loved one at greater risk of victimization. Additionally, the loved one living with an alcoholic or addict may have an increase in their own frustration, causing them to express anger or act out violently against the substance user.
Anger is not the only way substance abuse can impact the user or a loved one. At times, in flawed attempt to help the addict, a loved one will transition into an enabler. Enabling includes: taking responsibility for the behaviors and feelings of the addicted loved one, working hard to minimize their negative consequences, accepting blame, making excuses.
A classic example of enabling is providing money on a consistent basis so that the user is able to retrieve the drugs. He or she may ask for money for gas or gasoline, and while their loved may suspect it is going to drugs, they provide it anyway. The line between helping and enabling is often extremely difficult for those who love someone struggling with addictions to discern.
One might think they are doing it in support of their loved one but in the end, enabling drug addiction hurts the relationship in so many ways.
Control others because they do not think the other person can function independently, have low self-esteem and overly focus on their loved one, are willing to compromise their own needs, wants and beliefs to keep their loved one calm and content. Are very cautious and aware of the emotional changes of others, maintain loyalty and commitment to their loved one despite lack of reciprocation.
Codependent individuals often get involved in one-sided relationships. someone who is codependent may be frustrated by the needs and actions of their addicted loved one but may also feel a compulsive need to take care of that person. The codependent needs the addict as much as the addict needs the codependent. Their identity may become wrapped up in the ‘martyr’ role, feeling compelled to “serve” or “sacrifice” for their partner, yet simultaneously acting to fulfil their own needs for attachment and closeness. Co-Dependent relationships typically involve their fair share of enabling, as the caretaker figure will often try to cover for the addicted loved one but may also feel a compulsive need to take care of that person. The codependent. Their identity may become wrapped up in the martyr role feeling compelled to serve or sacrifice for their partner, yet simultaneously acting to fulfil their own needs for attachment and closeness. Codependent relationships typically involved their fair share of enabling, as the caretaker figure will often try to cover for the addicted individual or resolve their issues instead of allowing them to face natural consequences of substance use.
Repairing the damage
Individual therapy for the addicted individual. Ending substance use is the first key element in repairing the relationship. It will be very difficult to begin or maintain a functional relationship during a period of active addiction. Addiction counselling and psychotherapy will allow the individual to gain a better understanding of the impact of use on their mental, physical, and social health in addition to learning coping mechanisms for substances us and developing healthy interpersonal skills.
Individual therapy for the significant other. The other non-addicted person in the relationship can also benefit from therapy by: gaining education surrounding the nature of substance abuse and addiction, understanding their role in relationship struggles and patterns, addressing their own mental health and self care needs related and unrelated to addiction.