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Typical Addict Behavior in Relationships

If you suspect your significant other may have an addition, it is important for you (both) to identify the problem earlier than later.

Here are six examples of typical addict behavior in relationships.

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Typical Addict Behavior in Relationships

Being in a relationship can be exciting and thrilling some days and can be difficult other days. No one ever said being in a relationship was easy. In fact, most people who are successful in their relationships make note it takes a lot of effort to make it work.

Your relationship can become even more difficult to sustain if you or your partner has an addiction. Whether the addiction is to drugs, alcohol, gambling, eating or any other activity, your relationship will become secondary. Meaning, it won’t take long for an addict to begin placing priority on seeking the high they receive from their addiction.

Below, you will discover some of the most typical addict behavior in relationships.

Before we get into the behaviors, I just wanted to take a moment to remind you there is hope. Identifying and resolving addiction within a relationship is a challenge, but it is certainly possible. Behavioral therapy offers a wide range of benefits, including those related to relationship problems and addiction concerns.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist with experience providing couples therapy and addiction counseling, I encourage you to explore therapy for guidance.

Now, here are some typical addict behavior in relationships.

1. Mood Swings

One minute everything is fine, everyone is happy and enjoying themselves. The next minute you are arguing over something minor. Or, the opposite can happen, in which a person goes from unhappy to overly happy in a matter of minutes or hours.

These types of mood swings can be associated with addict behavior.

If someone is withdrawing from a drug, mood swings are often prevalent. A person can experience many negative symptoms during withdrawal, and all of these will affect their mood. Until they either go through detox, or obtain their next dose, you can expect them to be moody and irritable.

Detox can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week. This is typically why addicts continue to use their drug of choice, or any drug, so they can avoid these negative symptoms of withdrawal. Other symptoms can include excessive sweating, muscle cramps, nausea, and vomiting, all of which only add to them having mood swings.

Of all the addictive behaviors in relationships, you may notice this one first.

2. Neglect

If it seems like your partner is becoming distant from you and your relationship, this could be a sign of addictive behavior. The main focus of an addict is their drug. You cannot compete with that drug because it has taken control of their brain, which has in turn, made using drugs their top priority.

Relationship issues and needs will fall secondary to the substance abuse.

You may find yourself attending events alone, making family decisions alone, raising children alone and even managing family finances alone. Some may feel as if they are not in a relationship at all. Drugs make an addict less likely to provide the listening and communication skills needed to have a healthy relationship.

Addiction also starves a relationship of intimacy, joyful activities, and turns positive times into negative memories. Even sexual needs may no longer be a focus, as the relationship lacks emotional intimacy. Instead, the addict focuses on his or her needs only.

3. Change in Sexual Needs

Addict behaviors can change, especially when it comes to being sexual. If you once had a healthy, romantically active sex life, and all of a sudden your partner is not interested in sex, it could be due to their addiction.

If your partner becomes aggressive, or harmful, during sex, it could be related to their addiction. Unfortunately, there may also be times when addicts take sex from their partner when you do not want sex. This is considered relationship rape and should not be tolerated just because you are in a relationship.

This is a very harmful addict behavior that happens too often. And yet, there are still other harmful behaviors shown by addicts.

4. Harmful Behavior

If your partner becomes violent with you in any way, it could be related to their addiction. Many substances, like stimulants and cocaine, can cause aggression. When an addict is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, they can become aggressive.

Harmful behaviors include verbal assaults such as name calling, blame, and threats. Physical abuse includes any negative type of touch, whether it is a push, a slap or a punch.  Psychological or emotional abuse can include neglect, holding you hostage in your own home and controlling or manipulative behaviors.

If your addicted partner makes you feel sad, hurt, or scared, it is considered a harmful behavior and you need to take necessary precautions now to protect yourself.

5. Lying

Addicts lie for many reasons. They may not want to stop their addiction so they try to minimize, justify, or deny why they are using. They may try to place blame on someone else and rationalize why it is necessary for them to continue their addictive behavior.

It is rare that someone who remains in their addiction takes complete responsibility for the truth behind their problem.

You may find that addicts begin to lie about everything, even the simple things. They lie about where they are going, who they are hanging out with, and what they will be doing while away. They lie about how often they have used substances throughout the day. They even lie about where money has been spent.

Lying to your significant other breaks the bond of trust you share, making this typical addict behavior in relationships one of the most harmful to your future together.

Occasionally, when someone is addicted to a substance and are not able to obtain the money on their own, they will resort to criminal activity to maintain their use.

6. Criminal Activity

Criminal activity can start out as minor action that can seem harmless at first. For instance, an addict may take a ten dollar bill out of your wallet without you knowing. But eventually you catch on and when they can no longer obtain money this way, they may resort to other behaviors.

Criminal activity can include stealing and selling items you paid for at a pawn shop without you knowing.  Addicts, depending on the cost of their daily addiction, may even include shoplifting at stores, robbing homes, prostitution and becoming a dealer themselves.

In conclusion, if you have experienced any one of these behaviors with someone who is addicted to substances, you must reach out for help. Seek professional help from a licensed therapist specialized in chemical dependency who can guide you safely in getting help for your partner and for your relationship.  Addiction is a family disease.  Everyone in the family is impacted in one way or another.  The disease of addiction can get better with help. Everyone in the family needs help.

Now that you are aware of some of the typical addict behavior in relationships, you will be able to identify a potential problem.

Again, it is best to confront these behaviors earlier than later. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse, and make it more challenging for you, and your partner, to overcome addiction and repair your relationship together.

Couples Therapy and Addiction Therapy

If you are interested in exploring the benefits of couples therapy and addiction counseling, please contact me to learn more.

Photo by Arun Thomas