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The Toll Our Addictions Take On Our Loved Ones

If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Sometimes as we’re focusing on our own recovery, we don’t realize how much our loved ones have been affected by our addictions and by the struggles we’ve been going through over the years. We can have a narrow view of the scope of our addictions, seeing clearly how we’ve been impacted but failing to see how our addictions have impacted the lives of those we love. Our addictions can take a very heavy toll on our loved ones and on their mental and emotional health. It can help motivate us to get sober to look at some of these effects. It can also help us make amends to them as part of our recovery to have more understanding of how our loved ones have been impacted.

Mental and Emotional Suffering

For the people who are closest to us, and especially for those living with us, our addictions can become a burdensome and depressing part of their lives. They’re forced to watch as we self-destruct and harm ourselves, often feeling they have no recourse against the powerful force of our addictions. They feel they have no control and no say in the situation. They feel powerless knowing there is nothing they can do to alleviate our suffering or to make us quit. When they’re in this place of feeling helpless and out of control, our loved ones can be more prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. The pain can become so overwhelming that they develop suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It can be a lonely and very overwhelming position to be in, to be the loved one of an addict and feel there is nothing to be done about it.


Our loved ones might isolate themselves because of our addictions, in much the same way we isolate ourselves. They might be hesitant to share with other people what they’re going through, and what we as the addicts in their lives are going through. They might be afraid that other people will judge them, or judge us as addicts. They might be afraid that people will associate them with us and our addictions, looking down on them as much as they look down on us. They might be afraid that they will be condemned and shunned by association. This fear of judgment can cause our loved ones to suppress their pain around our addictions. They might not reach out for support. They might not take advantage of resources for the loved ones of addicts, such as support groups like Al-Anon. They might not realize yet that there is a world of people out there just like them, dealing with precisely the same issues in their close relationships. When they self-isolate, our loved ones can compound and worsen their mental health issues further. They might not seek out support for their depression and other mental illnesses, which can cause them to intensify over time and to fuel their unwellness.

Developing Addiction

Our loved ones might be struggling with addiction themselves, or they might find that our substance use is such a source of stress for them that they become inclined to experiment with drugs to help them cope. They might develop addictions of their own in response to the emotional overwhelm of living with us as addicts. This is not to say that we are at fault for their becoming addicts. We are all responsible for our own illnesses, choices, and patterns. We do, however, all impact one another, and the toll our addictions can take on our loved ones can impact them to such a degree that they feel themselves breaking under the pressure. They might look to us as role models and be influenced to try drugs because of our drug use. They might find themselves in situations and environments where addiction runs rampant, simply because we’re an important part of their lives. For example, they might start attending parties or other social events where drugs are common. They might start to hang out in the neighborhoods and homes where we drank and used. They might adopt some of our habits and lifestyle choices. While we’re not to blame for their choices, we can be influential in their developing the patterns that become addictive.

Relationship Conflict

Another common challenge our loved ones face due to our addictions is how much they try to dissuade us from using, which often culminates in bitter conflict and turmoil within the relationship. As addicts, we’ve become so dependent on our drug of choice and so attached to it that we resent the people who try to convince us to quit. We can become angry, hostile, even abusive when someone tries to intervene. Our loved ones will often go to desperate measures to get us to stop. They might hide, throw out or sell our drugs. They might try to ban certain friends from the home, particularly the people with whom we use the most. They might give us an ultimatum, forcing us to choose between them and our addiction. When we’re in this place of strong dependence and attachment, we’re desperate not to lose our drug of choice. We’re very likely to prioritize it over everything else in our lives, including the relationships we hold dear because we feel as though we need it to cope with life, even to survive. Our judgment is impaired, and our world revolves around our addictions. This can be terribly confusing and painful for our loved ones, especially when we opt to separate ourselves from them in favor of our drug of choice. This adds to the tremendous toll our addictions take on our loved ones and is one of the many ways in which our addictions can impact them negatively.

At The Guest House Ocala, our recovery programs include many experiential modalities including traditional therapy, conscious connected breathwork, equine therapy, somatic experiencing, art in healing, grief therapy, mindfulness and other forms of therapy.

Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.

3230 Northeast 55th Avenue Silver Springs, FL 34488