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How do addicts tend to behave in relationships?

A drug addicted man sits with his girlfriend on the beach

Updated on

Being in a close relationship with an addict can be difficult – even if you’re unaware that the person you’re seeing is addicted to drugs. Drug users are crafty and can be very good at hiding their addiction from even those who are very close to them.

Unfortunately, even those drug addicts who are very good at hiding their addiction aren’t able to remove the influences of their addictions from their relationships. Emotional issues and domestic problems are often commonplace when a drug addict is taking part in a close relationship, and even when these issues are absent, it can be tough to develop a sustained relationship.

In this article, we’re going to discuss how drug addicts behave during relationships. If you’re already aware that your partner is struggling with an addiction, this can help you understand why your partner behaves the way that they do. If you have suspicions, then this could help you determine whether or not your partner has been hiding a drug addiction – and, if you’re reading this as an addict, you might learn a thing or two about how your addiction might be influencing your partner.

Are You Dating a Drug Addict?

It can be hard to know for sure whether or not you’re dating a drug addict. Unless your partner is unashamed and very open about their addiction, or otherwise very bad at covering it up, chances are it can be difficult to discern if they’re addicted or not.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re harboring suspicions, it’s certainly worth looking into – not just for your well-being but for the health and safety of your addicted partner.

There are several things that could indicate that your partner is using or abusing drugs and trying to hide it from you. These things can include:

  • Frequently spending more money than they intended to, dipping into shared savings, or having finances disappear that can’t be accounted for.
  • Going out for extended periods without having anything planned, or going out for short intervals frequently to ‘meet a friend,’ or do some quick errand.
  • Coming back from hanging out with a friend or finishing an errand in a different state of mind or acting differently than they did before.
  • Being sick frequently, especially in the morning, or experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, which can include sniffling, sneezing, excessive yawning, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and anxiety. Keep in mind that these symptoms could be indicative of a cold or mental health problem; however, repeated and incessant physical symptoms in combination with some of these other issues might indicate withdrawal.
  • Noticing track marks on the skin, usually on the forearm. Some addicts prefer to inject in areas that cannot be seen by others easily, such as on the thighs.
  • Finding bits of tinfoil, small baggies or syringe tips in the garbage.
  • Changes in sleep patterns. If your spouse frequently stays up overnight or until extremely late hours, this could indicate that they are using stimulants.
  • Eating changes. If your partner goes days without eating this could also indicate the use of stimulants.
  • Getting sick every time that you go on an outing, on vacation, or away from town for more than a day.

All of these things could suggest that your partner is using drugs; however, it’s important not to make any assumptions. Bringing the idea up from a place of kindness and compassion is the best way to address it. Attacking or accusing drug addicts may make them defensive, and if your partner isn’t using drugs, this could be taken as extremely offensive.

The Addict’s Relationship With Drugs

A young drug addicted man lashes out angrily at girlfriendOne other thing to consider is the fact that drug addicts in relationships are actually trying to maintain two relationships – one with themselves, and one with the drugs. This is also usually an indication of a fractured relationship with themselves.

Individuals with strong, healthy relationships with themselves tend not to abuse drugs. This means that if you’re seeing a drug addict, you may be seeing someone who does not understand or love themselves as much as they could. This can be problematic and can make it hard to develop a strong foundation for a relationship.

Regardless of their relationships with themselves, drug users who are dependent on their drug of choice have to maintain a solid relationship with their addiction. This generally takes precedence over any other relationships in their lives, be they romantic, familial, or friendships.

When someone is dependent on drugs, their priorities relate to drugs. They will, quite literally, get sick if they do not get their drugs.

What this entails is that they will prioritize obtaining drugs and getting money for drugs above all else, unless they’re in a situation where it’s safer and better for their credibility to risk withdrawal in order to hide their drug use. This can lead to them seeming negligent, missing appointments, or being emotionally unavailable for you.

In fact, many drug users may have difficulty managing their emotional health – especially in a relationship. Drugs are notorious for interfering with a person’s ability to cope with their emotions, and drug addicts are often prone to irrational outbursts, passive aggression, depression, anxiety, and other issues that can make it difficult for the two of you to get along.

Emotional Intimacy and Drug Addiction

One issue that many drug addicts struggle with is intimacy.

This can be understood by simply recognizing the way that people tend to project their emotional reality onto those that they are close with. The edge, you can only love someone as much as they love themselves, rings true here.

In most cases, people who are truly intimate with themselves aim to be healthy and happy without the aid of substances. Drug addicts who begin to understand themselves emotionally and intimately tend to make an effort to avoid using drugs. However, those that are in the throes of addiction generally don’t have an intimate relationship with themselves.

This means that they will generally struggle to hold an intimate relationship with themselves. When things get intimate in a relationship – when issues such as emotional health, past traumas, caretaking, compassion, and similar things arise – drug addicts may not know how to respond properly. This isn’t due to willful ignorance – it’s because they lack the faculties to address these things in themselves.

This can lead to things like unwarranted arguments. If someone who doesn’t understand themselves intimately is prodded in an intimate way, it can be rather triggering. Those who don’t understand their emotional health often respond to these triggers with the ‘blanket’ emotion of anger.

This can be extremely difficult in a relationship. A simple conversation about making improvements in the relationship or setting boundaries can be seen by the addict as a personal attack and can lead to aggression, arguments, and defensiveness.

Trust and Truth Among Drug Addicts

One thing that can be difficult to deal with when living or seeing someone who is addicted to drugs is trusting them. This is especially true among addicts who lie to cover up their addiction.

Lying to cover up an addiction might seem like a simple thing – if you were to ask them if they used drugs, they would simply say no, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Covering up an addiction is a great ordeal and requires lying or ‘bending the truth’ about a number of things. Say that your partner has to go pick up drugs two or more times a day. This means that each time that they go to pick up drugs, they will have to generate a story about what they were doing or why they have to keep leaving the house at regular intervals.

They will likely come up with elaborate stories to explain why they are getting sick so often or try to explain why they have to go to the bathroom so many times in a night. These explanations are not only logical and believable but often generate sympathy for the person. This sympathy can take attention away from your suspicions.

While a drug addict generally has good – or at least understandable – intentions when they’re lying to cover up their addictions, this can be dangerous for a relationship. While they may intend to simply avoid hurting you, or they may want to feel free to use drugs without being judged or causing concern, the cycle of habitual lying can lead to problems elsewhere in the relationship.

In Conclusion

Being in a relationship with a drug addict can be a challenging and confusing ordeal, especially if you’re not confident that your partner is using drugs. Identifying the issue can be a problem on its own, and once the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, things may not get any easier.

Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand a bit more about the way that drug addicts behave in relationships and why they do so.

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    Our mission is to offer a safe, non-triggering, recovery-focused resource for anyone who has struggled with addiction or has helped someone who struggled. We aim to provide articles that help bring awareness to addiction as a disease and honor the recovery process through insightful and motivating topics. Together, we can all work to inspire each other and bring thoughtfulness and truth to the recovery journey.

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