The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that 10 percent of Americans will struggle with a substance use disorder at some point in their lifetime, there is a small chance that you, a friend, a loved one, or a future loved one could develop one in the future. For some, this is a deal breaker. But it’s not always that black and white. What if a substance use disorder occurs years into a marriage, or your significant other relapses? That’s what we’re tackling today; the stigma behind dating an addict — both the good and the bad.
Before we get into the thick of things, if you or a loved one is in a dangerous situation, please seek help. If you need to find a safe haven, please follow this link. Your safety is paramount and you’re not alone.
Is Dating an Addict Dangerous?
We’ve all seen how the media portrays addicts and we’ve all heard horror stories of abuse caused by substance use disorders. While they can lead to violence and neglect, not all cases of substance abuse are dangerous. Not everyone who has substance use disorder — a drug addiction — will be violent.
The odds aren’t always in your favor, though. Nearly 80% of domestic violence cases are related to the use of drugs. The odds seem scary, but if you’re dedicated to making it work, then we have some tips to help you.
Dating an Addict: Can it Be Healthy?
The first thing you need to do for any relationship to work is set your own boundaries. If you’re uncomfortable being around the substance or being around someone who uses, then you need to listen to your gut. Only you know what is best for you (and potentially your family). Listen to your gut and respect your own boundaries first.
All that aside, you can have a healthy and successful relationship with someone with a substance use disorder. However, you may experience some stress and strain that other couples do not.
You could experience any of the following:
- Health problems
- Addiction treatment
- Vulnerable to other addictions, such as gambling or sex
- Reclusive behaviors or isolating behaviors
- A lack of interest in you, hobbies, or new experiences
On the flip side, studies show, however, that addicts with closer family ties have a stronger chance of recovery. You supporting your loved one may strengthen your relationship in the long run and lessen the negative side effects caused by addiction.
How to Support an Addict
Dating an addict doesn’t have to be that different of an experience. However, you will likely have to be more vigilant about your behaviors and boundaries. Here are some of our tips for building a healthy relationship.
Keep an eye on enabling behavior. You don’t want to be an enabler for bad habits in any relationship. However, when you’re dating an addict, these behaviors can be life threatening if you’re not careful. For example, avoid lending them money when you don’t know where it’s going, avoid lying to them, and don’t ignore your own needs.
You may feel like you “save” them if you stay with them, or you may feel like these behaviors mean you are supporting them. Unfortunately, if you’re not vigilant and aware of your partner’s actions, then your support could unintentionally be fueling their bad decisions.
Your support is important for your partner’s recovery, yet you must determine if the kind of support you are giving is healthy — for both or you.
Your partner is emotionally unavailable to you. If you’re feeling neglected or unfulfilled emotionally, take stock of the situation. Otherwise it can take its toll on your emotional and physical health.
It’s impacting your mental health Sometimes, there is only so much a person can take. When it comes to addiction, the cycle can be brutal, especially when your partner is prone to relapse. If it’s starting to take its toll on you mentally, emotionally, and physically, then you may need to break it off.
Good Things Can Come Out Of It
When you’re dating an addict, it can seem like an endless dark night. However, if your partner is serious about overcoming their substance use disorder and you’re encouraging them and supporting them the right way, then there is an end in sight.
Here are some positive things that can come out of it, assuming your partner is taking the right steps to overcome their addiction:
Stronger, together. The support you show your partner — assuming you’re not enabling bad behaviors — will not go unnoticed. It can help build a stronger foundation for when you’re both on the other side of their addiction. You’ve seen each other at your worst, now it’s time to build good memories when you’re both at your best. You will be stronger, together.
Support groups. Your partner will likely need ongoing support to stay sober and free from drug abuse or alcohol addiction. Support groups are a great way for them to work on their recovery and meet like minded people. Don’t forget about yourself too: there are tons of support groups for spouses and partners of addicts! You’ll both meet new people and make lifelong friends throughout this journey.
You’ll remember what is really important. Finally, you’ll remember what is really important. You don’t need grand gestures to fall back in love with someone — it’s the little moments that you’ll cherish forever. Going through this journey of recovery together will help you both understand the importance of the little moments and the importance of being healthy, together.
You can even get involved in treatment. Many clinics, such as Direct2Recovery, offer family counseling sessions. It will help you understand your partner, as well as help you understand your own boundaries in this relationship. We highly recommend it!
Bottom Line: Is Dating an Addict Dangerous?
While statistics say that dating an addict is likely to lead to some form of domestic abuse, not all partners will be dangerous. The best thing you can do for yourself to avoid dangerous situations is set boundaries for yourself, listen to your gut, and encourage good behaviors and treatment.
If you or your loved one need help, give Direct2Recovery a call at 602-962-8562 or visit us online to learn more. We’ll be happy to help you in whatever way we can.