Addictive Behaviour

Addictive Behaviour

Addictions to or dependency on drugs, alcohol, dieting, food and gambling by one or both partners puts a strain on a relationship by creating extreme situations and lack of balance.

Substance abuse is the misuse of any drug or alcohol to such an extent that it affects a person's ability to function within normal parameters. Substance abuse covers all drugs and alcohol from street drugs such as cannabis and heroin to prescription drugs and wine. Addiction to gambling can also be a major source of contention in a relationship. It can build up gradually but is easy to hide and if it gets out of hand can put a severe strain on a relationship.

You don't have to be lying in the gutter to have a substance abuse problem. If are misusing any substance to the point where it has a mental or physical effect on your behaviour and well-being then you may have a problem.

Some relationships develop and are built on common ground where both partners enjoy the effects of using drugs or alcohol. Many people meet at parties or clubs where drinking and increasingly drug taking, is more commonplace.

Problems may later arise if one or both partners go on to abuse one or more substances so that it affects the relationship. This can be particularly disastrous if the partnership involves children. Substance abuse affects and distorts a person's behaviour, their view of themselves and their relationship with others.

What are the signs that someone has a substance abuse problem?

Spotting the signs can be difficult, especially if someone is a 'functioning' alcoholic or drug user. This means that they manage to operate on a fairly normal level most of the time, so much so that you may not notice they have a problem. Many substance abusers hide what they do and if they have been doing this for a long time they become highly skilled in disguising their habits.

There are some signs which indicate that substance abuse may be a possibility.
Have you noticed any any of these behaviours or change in behaviours?

  • Does your partner have sudden mood or behaviour changes? Irrationality, paranoia, irritability, aggression. These may not necessarily indicate a substance abuse problem but do indicate something is wrong.
  • Has your partner become disinterested in their appearance?
  • Does your partner want to spend more time alone? They may not want to take part in normal family activities or spend time with you.
  • Is your partner staying out unusually late or not coming home at all? This may be a way to ensure you do not see them under the influence.
  • Have you noticed any physical symptoms? Red eyes, dilated pupils, sniffing nose, sweating, needle marks, decreased attention, weight loss or reduced appetite.
  • Have you found unusual items? For example, empty bottles, rizla papers, pipes, foil, needles or spoons which can't be explained away.
  • Have you found any items in unusual places? Sometimes alcoholics will hide bottles of alcohol for discrete consumption later.
  • Do their prescription medications seem to be being finished very quickly?
  • Are they developing new and different type of friends? Perhaps sometimes dropping old friends.
  • Is money regularly going missing from bank accounts or at home?
  • Have you noticed any obvious drunken or odd behaviour that indicates intoxication?
  • Does your partner find it hard to get up and get going in the morning? They may begin taking 'sickies' off work.

If you think you or your partner has a substance abuse or addiction problem then it is likely that you will need professional help to combat the problem. The only way a person can begin to get help to start the recovery process is to admit they have a problem. As a partner of someone with a problem you will need to focus your energy on getting them to seek professional help rather than trying to solve the abuse problem yourself.