Overcoming Toxicity in Relationships

couple quarreling

Substance addiction and toxic relationships are often inter-linked. Some people get into the habit of using drugs and alcohol because of someone close to them, whether they are a romantic partner, a family member or a close friend who uses or drinks. In these instances, two kinds of addictions often co-occur: the addiction to drugs or alcohol and the addiction to unhealthy relationships.

Signs of Relational Dysfunctions

Dysfunctional relationships and substance addiction often go hand in hand, creating a vicious cycle. Detoxing from one does not always mean the other will get fixed. The two conditions need to be treated simultaneously. First, you need to know how to identify toxicity in relationships.

Relationships that are toxic and dysfunctional usually involve domination, control, manipulation, intimidation, and abuse. Toxic relationships come in all shapes and sizes, but some mix of these negative behavioral patterns are present in all. The unfortunate truth is that many people engage in dysfunctional relationships for one reason or another. These relationships have the potential to distort one’s self-image and outlook on the world. It may also cause long-term mental health problems. Below are some warning signs that you might be in a toxic relationship:

  • Communication between the two of you is hostile, humiliating, or hurtful most of the time.
  • Controlling behaviors are a norm, like limiting your mobility or secluding you from others.
  • Your partner coerces you into things you wouldn’t otherwise consider, like drug and alcohol abuse or uncomfortable sexual acts.
  • The relationship is one-sided and you are constantly trying to accommodate their needs and wants.
  • There is physical violence and emotional abuse.

Oftentimes, these warning signs are obvious to outsiders but the one in this toxic relationship may live in denial for a long time. The consequences of delaying seeking help can sometimes be life-threatening, just like substance addiction.

A Double Addiction: Toxic Relationships and Substance Addiction

Toxic relationships are hard to break from because there is a strong sense of attachment involved. Some refer to this as “trauma bonding,” an addictive condition that presents as codependency in toxic relationships. It is hard for the person who is suffering the abuse of toxicity to identify the dysfunctions. There may also be fear of what will happen if you leave the relationship. Eventually, things might progress to a point when you need to re-evaluate a relationship. The decision to break free is a difficult one, especially if addiction is involved. Feelings of isolation, insecurity, fear, and stress caused by quitting either one can be strong triggers for relapse.

There are many similarities between relational toxicity and substance abuse. People who suffer from these conditions develop attachment complexes and compulsions. Sometimes deception and manipulation are used to cover up the ugly truth. When deciding to quit, there are also withdrawal symptoms that tend to pull you back. The most dangerous situation is when these two conditions create a cycle—relational toxicity and substance addiction that reinforce each other. Many partners who use drugs and alcohol together can form a kind of toxic bond that is extremely difficult to break.

Rebuilding Healthy Relationships During Recovery 

Healthy relationships have some traits in common. They require open and trusting communication, mutual respect, a safe space for individual freedom, attention, and care. These should be the goals for someone in recovery from both relational toxicity and substance addiction. If you struggle with substance addiction, you still deserve love, compassion, and companionship. In fact, you need an even stronger social support system to achieve long-term recovery.

Working with these above principles, even the most toxic, co-dependent relationships that involve substance addiction can still be salvaged if both parties are willing to address and work through their problems. Honesty is always the first step. It is best if you both agree to treatment and couples’ therapy because issues in a relationship do not resolve on their own. Treatment can help you learn healthier ways to manage emotions and deal with conflicts.

There may be times when a recovering individual has to let go of a toxic relationship that is beyond repair, or the other person is not willing to change. You should not put yourself in a relationship that continues to threaten your safety. For the sake of your well-being, letting go might be best. When leaving a toxic relationship, it is important to have a support system so that your emotional turmoil does not trigger a relapse.

No matter what stage you or a loved one is at when quitting a toxic relationship while struggling with substance addiction, professional help is always available. Many people have been through similar treatment programs that helped them navigate the complex emotional terrains of double addiction. Help is available, you’re not the only one who has experienced these things, and you do not need to fight alone.

Are you aware that toxic relationships are often the primary trigger to relapse for recovering individuals? Did you know that most victims of toxic relationships find it hard to break free?  If you are struggling with substance addiction and are involved in a dysfunctional and toxic relationship, you need to seek professional help and break free from both. A residential addiction treatment can provide you with a safe environment where you are removed from the harm of the toxic person and can recover from substance use. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can help you build a strong support network. We have both inpatient and outpatient programs that address a range of mental health issues that might be challenging during all phases of your recovery. Our residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and custom treatment plans. Call us at (866) 906-3203