If you suspect your significant other may have an addiction, it’s important that you understand the common signs of substance abuse and how addiction can negatively impact your relationship.
Taking the time to learn more about this will ensure you’re prepared to intervene if necessary and protect your significant other, yourself, and your relationship.
Here’s what typical addict behavior in relationships may look like.
Typical Addict Behavior in Relationships
At some point, you will begin to notice a change in your significant other’s behaviors.
These changes develop over time, so they’re not always easy to identify depending on the progression of the addiction. If ignored for too long, these changes may have a negative impact on your significant other, you, and your relationship with each other.
To help you identify these changes early, take a look at the following list of typical addict behavior in relationships:
- The Addiction is the Priority
- Maladaptive behavior despite the consequences
- Manipulative behavior
- Lying, hiding, irritable
- Withdrawn and secretive
- Change in appearance
As time passes and the addiction becomes stronger, you will notice more and more changes.
Keep reading if you notice any of these changes.
1. The Addiction is the Priority
You can be addicted to anything, from drugs and alcohol to gaming and computers, to exercise and sex. Addict behaviors will be similar among all addictions. One of these behaviors is that the addict spends most of their time trying to feed their desires and get a fix.
If they are addicted to gambling, they will spend a lot of time getting money to gamble, traveling to a casino, going online to gamble, working with a bookie, or placing bets at the tracks. There are many forms of gambling, all of which offer excitement and a high when the addict is winning.
If they are losing, however, depression easily sets in. This is when the addict resorts to negative actions, even theft, to gamble again, to get high again.
If it is between gambling and attending an important event with you, an addict will choose to gamble.
2. Maladaptive Behavior Despite the Consequences
An addict wants to be able to feed their addiction and keep up with the obligations of their personal and professional lives. But this is impossible, as the need to get high becomes the central focus of an addict’s life.
Many addicts end up losing good jobs, custody of their children, the right to drive, and even important relationships. Your relationship may be in danger of ending now. And it is likely hard for you to understand how a person can choose a substance over people who love them.
The brain of an addict likes to get high and it will do what it can to force your loved one to continue to get high. Addicts know the consequences of continued use, yet they cannot stop. Instead, they find ways to manipulate their loved ones to help them continue their addiction.
3. Manipulative Behavior
You may not even realize you are being manipulated at first. You are a good person and want to believe you are helping the one you love. It may start out as lending money for gas or food. It may then move on to lending money for bigger expenses, like doctor bills or rent.
It is only when you find out none of your money was spent on expenses that you realize you were being manipulated. Even then, it is hard to stop enabling your partner. You love them and do not like to see them suffer, especially when they are withdrawing.
An addict knows exactly how to sway you into giving them money and they will do whatever they can to feed their addiction because as mentioned above, that is their only goal for each day.
4. Lying, Hiding, and Irritable
Of all the changes you might notice, the first typical addict behavior in relationships you’ll notice is lying.
Trust is at the foundation of every relationship. Lying violates the trust you share and in turn harms your relationship. Your partner will likely be hesitant to lie at first because he or she knows it’s a violation of your relationship, but lying will become easier for them over time if you ignore it.
Your partner will resort to lying in order to protect their addiction. In the early stages, your partner might offer subtle lies in passing in order to avoid a confrontation. However, the lies will grow in size and scope as the addiction takes hold. If you get to the point where you confront your partner about their addiction, he or she may not believe you are right and resort to excuses or arguments that dismiss the idea of addiction. At this point, you may notice your partner is irritable. This may be a reflection that your partner doesn’t want to lie or that your partner is experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
If your partner can get away with lying once, he or she will do it again.
When you catch your partner in a lie, it’s important that you express your intolerance for such behavior. Over time, as he or she begins experiencing the consequences of their maladaptive behavior, your partner may withdraw and become more secretive in order to protect their addiction and avoid further confrontation.
5. Withdrawn and Secretive
If you notice your partner has become more distant, it may be a sign he or she has withdrawn from you in order to avoid confrontation.
It’s not uncommon for people to misdirect their partner with the intention of creating space for their addiction to thrive. This additional space provides the time he or she needs to feed the addiction. This is another type of lying that can have devasting effects on your relationship. It creates doubt in your mind, which will take a toll on your mental state as you imagine the worst-case scenario. You may become interested in following your partner or checking in with friends, which can be embarrassing and spark undesirable rumors among your social circle.
Another common illustration of this behavior may involve a flurry of new errands your partner is determined to run. These are pretty easy to identify – offer to tag along. If your partner tries to dissuade you from joining, it may be a sign that he or she isn’t telling you the truth about the errand.
6. A Change in Personal Presentation
As an addiction claims the focus of your partner, you may notice a change in their appearance and environment.
Your partner may become less concerned about the cleanliness of the house, the car, or the laundry. This is another typical addict behavior in relationships that gradually develops over time. If ignored, this change may impact their personal appearance. People experience changes like this for a variety of reasons, including family-related stress, stress at work, or financial hardships, so it’s important to consider the bigger picture here.
The impact of this type of behavior might make you feel they’re no longer concerned about what you think of them, which will create a sense of isolation, loneliness, and confusion.
It is imperative you seek professional help from a counselor who specializes in addiction. They can teach you how to get your partner into treatment, starting with an intervention to inpatient or outpatient treatment to support groups.
Dealing with someone else’s addiction is almost impossible to do on your own. But there are many family therapists who can help you through each step of the process.
They can help you confirm whether your partner is an addict, develop a plan of action, and help you build a support system.
You can help your loved one go from typical addict behavior to successful recovery.
Photo by Eric Ward