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Touching on Relationships and Substance Use Disorders

There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding Ariana Grande’s former relationship with Mac Miller, following his recent overdose death. Fans are quick to criticize and place blame on Grande given their recent breakup, but the fault lies solely in the disease of addiction. Considering the harsh reactions on social media, we thought it would be a good time to take a step back and highlight the complexities faced by those in relationships with people struggling with the disorder.

Romantic relationships can easily become complicated for all of us, but for those struggling with active addiction, they’re particularly tricky. Generally, addiction professionals advise against entering into a relationship both while using and throughout the first year of sobriety. The strong feelings of romantic love create a heightened number of emotional triggers for the person struggling.

Active addiction plays a large role in relationships. It creates monetary struggles, intimacy and trust issues and oftentimes, it increases the chances of emotional or physical abuse.

According to our VP of Clinical Development, Dr. Romas Buivydas, PhD, LMHC, the situation presents much like a dual-diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder. In addition to dealing with the issue at hand – addiction – people are tasked with simultaneously dealing with increased psychological and even economical stressors.

That said, oftentimes people are already engaged in loving and committed relationships before substance abuse becomes an issue. For couples determined to stick it out, it is imperative that both individuals take care of themselves – not just each other. This is particularly important for the sober party, as taking care of and fighting for our loved ones can very quickly become all consuming.

Here are a few ways for people who love those struggling with addiction can keep healthy:

  • Join support groups and discuss your experiences with others in the same, unique position as you. Al-Anon Family Groups specialize in helping family and friends of those struggling with alcoholism and can be found across the country. Learn 2 Cope is a nonprofit support network offering education, resources and peer support for those coping with a loved one addicted to opioids or other drugs.
  • Work to recognize their addiction for what it is – their It is not a reflection of or reaction to you. It is not your fault or your responsibility.
  • Set boundaries that work for you. That may mean not allowing your loved one in the house while under the influence, or not providing them any money. Establish ground rules that keep you and your space safe.
  • No matter how hard it gets, set time aside to do things that make you happy and refuel your spirit. It’s important.

The public’s reaction to the news of Miller’s passing clearly shows that we still have work to do. While we’ve made great strides in raising awareness, many people still don’t know the fundamental truth of addiction – it is a disease, and it is difficult to manage and overcome – though not impossible. If you are a loved one and need help, please reach out today. We are here to help 24/7 at 844.500.6372.

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