Two addicts in a relationship can be problematic and potentially a recipe for disaster while on your own recovery journey.
At the same time, if you are in a relationship with another user and you both commit to recovery, you may be a support system for one another.
Below, we delve more into the things you should know about addiction and relationships.
What Happens When There Are Two Addicts in a Relationship?
Everyone wants to have love in their life, but what about when you struggle with a mental illness?
Addiction is a disease. When you are dealing with the effects of drug addiction, you may feel like no one understands you. You may feel worthless to anyone except someone else in the same position.
You may feel that you relate to each other in ways that others can’t understand because of your addictive behaviors and substance abuse issues.
This represents a dysfunctional relationship.
Your compulsions may feed off one another, and you may feel a deep connection to the other person simply because you share the use of drugs or alcohol.
These types of relationships tend to be toxic in almost all cases while you’re both actively using drugs or alcohol.
Even if you’re romantic partners with someone who isn’t suffering from addiction, it can cause an unhealthy relationship.
For example, codependency commonly occurs in relationships involving drug dependence. If you are struggling and your partner is not, they can become your caretaker.
Codependent relationships might mean that your partner enables you. In some ways it might serve as a roadblock for you getting help.
Other ways drinking or drug abuse generally can cause negative relationship issues and patterns we see include:
- Dishonesty: It’s common for a drug user to lie to the people around them. You might lie about your behavior, your intentions, and your feelings. You might lie to protect your use of drugs and alcohol, and this dishonesty can quickly spiral out of control.
- Manipulation: A drug user may resort to manipulation to continue fueling their habit, creating a highly toxic relationship. For example, you could blame other people for your behavior or try to make people feel guilty.
- Violence: Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol severely affect your brain and, as a result, your behavior. You may become violent physically or emotionally. Around 60% of physical abuse situations in relationships involve substance abuse.
What happens with two addicts in a relationship?
- You may not understand your true feelings for one another or have difficulty connecting in a usual way. You can’t look at your relationship in a clear-headed way and assess if this is even someone you would want to be in a relationship with were it not for your addiction.
- The problems of abuse and relationships can be worse if you both have a substance use disorder. There could be intense violence, unhealthy coping mechanisms, lies, and manipulation on both of your parts.
- You may have a lower risk of getting help if you’re in a relationship with another user. That person might rationalize your substance use and make it seem normal or okay, so you may feel like you don’t need help. It’s possible with two addicts in a relationship that you fuel one another’s obsessions.
- If one person wants to go to a treatment program and hopes to recover, it can create problems in your dynamic. If you find that you’re on a different path than your partner, you may need to break away from that person to succeed in your recovery.
Is It Possible to Get Sober with Your Partner?
Another question you might have is whether both of you can get sober together.
The short answer is yes, it’s possible.
The longer answer is that while it is possible to go through the recovery process together successfully, it’s not likely.
Treatment and recovery are very personal experiences. These experiences are individualized.
Even if you and your partner decide to get help at the same time, you will likely have very different paths.
We also know that many things are triggers, including people.
Even if you are in a relationship with someone who wants to get sober, you may be a trigger to one another because you remind each other of your drug or alcohol use.
For many people in recovery, they have to find a completely new circle of sober friends.
If they were to go back to past relationships, it could increase their risk of relapsing.
You also have to realize that it’s challenging to go through treatment and make such a huge life change. You have to focus on yourself.
Your only priority should be your well-being.
It’s not until you’re well into your sobriety recovery that you might start to think about rebuilding relationships or beginning new ones.
If you are a married couple, things might be a little different from just dating.
Suppose you are involved in a long-term relationship with someone who is also an addicted partner.
In that case, you might try to go to treatment together to work on underlying issues that affect not just your substance use but your marriage and family.
Behavioral couples therapy can be part of your overall treatment and recovery plan in addition to individual counseling.
Dating In Recovery
Research shows us that you are most vulnerable to relapse during your first year of recovery.
That first year is when you are learning how to live again as a sober person.
You are finding your way in terms of your lifestyle, friendships, career, and every part of your life.
People often wonder if they can date or have intimate or sexual relationships during the early days of recovery. While each person is different, the answer is usually that you should avoid it.
When you make a big change in your life, you are taking your focus away from your personal and recovery goals.
Someone in the earliest stage of recovery is rebuilding their identity. You need to be a healthy person yourself before you can be in a healthy relationship.
Something else that happens if you start dating too early in your recovery is replacing one dependence with another.
You might become obsessed with the person you’re seeing, and then you could find yourself following patterns of codependent relationships.
Rather than dating in the first year of your recovery, make a commitment to participating in a support group. Here, you will start building a sober network of friends.
Work to rebuild relationships with your family members, and commit to having a healthy lifestyle.
While it’s relatively common to see two addicts in a relationship, it’s not a good idea.
Drug use and relationships are not two things that go well together, even if you both have a desire to get sober.
If you are going to treatment, your entire focus needs to be on yourself and your recovery, rather than a romantic relationship.
Put the idea of a romantic relationship on the back burner until your sobriety is strong and you are confident in your new identity.
Then, once you’re strong in your sobriety, you’re more likely to move away from unhealthy relationships and toward flourishing relationships.
Whether you accept that advice or not, The Mental Health Center of San Diego can help you with counseling in either scenario.
Either couples counseling, individual counseling, or help with compulsions like substance abuse, our medical team is here to guide you.
Call us at 858-465-7722 to learn more by talking to a care coordinator.