There are a few different scenarios where you might wonder what it’s like being in a relationship with an addict, or whether or not it’s possible to have a relationship with an addict. The first could be if you were already in a relationship with a person before they were an addict, and now they’re in the midst of addiction. You may be questioning whether or not addicts and relationships are two things that can go together.

Another scenario where you might question how to have a relationship with an addict is if you’ve just met someone and found out they have an addiction problem but are not yet in a relationship with them.

There are also situations where both people are addicts so the question may become can two addicts have a healthy relationship.

To provide insight to any of these questions, it’s important to understand addiction and what it does to relationships.

How Addiction Affects Relationships

With drug addiction and relationships, regardless of the specific situation, there is no priority greater for the addict than the drug or the substance they use. The destruction of addiction is far-reaching, and it impacts all of the people around the addict.

What can often begin as recreational drug use then becomes a full-blown addiction, and someone who was once loving and engaged will become distant, selfish and only concerned with getting their next fix of the drug.

While doing a drug or taking the first drink is a choice, addiction is a disease of the brain that alters the cognition and behavior of the addict in deep, profound ways. They are solely driven by not only a psychological but also a physiological need to continue using, and those drug, or alcohol-related needs are their number one priority.

Relationships are often one of the first components of an addict’s life that are destroyed.

As long as someone is in the midst of their addiction and not receiving help, a relationship with an addict is virtually impossible. An addict will do everything to keep using including lying, cheating, and stealing. Addicts may also engage in risky or illegal behaviors that will have an impact on their partner, and they tend to have no inhibitions when it comes to things like having relationships outside of their primary relationship.

Addicts are manipulative and deceptive because this is how they continue to fuel their addiction.

You will likely see that if you’re in a relationship with a drug addict, they become a completely different person than the one you originally knew.

People will stay in a relationship with an addict feeling like if they love them enough, they can somehow fix them or cure them, and this isn’t the case. It only leads to frustration and heartache when you’re in a relationship with a drug addict.

People with addiction disorders may also become abusive, physically and emotionally. Addiction and relationship problems ultimately go hand-in-hand in most cases.

Does this mean you have to let the person go?

Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

You may be able to motivate someone who is an addict to receive help, and you can go through this process together in some ways, but not every addict will accept help and go through treatment. Also, if you’re in a relationship with an addict who’s physically harmful to you, you may have no other choice than to leave.

Many people who are in a relationship with a drug addict or alcoholic set boundaries, and ultimately find that when the addict doesn’t adhere to these, they have to end the relationship.

Luckily, for addicts who do agree to treatment, relationships may be salvageable.

Can Two Addicts Have a Healthy Relationship?

What if both people in a relationship are addicts? Can it be healthy?

The short answer is no, probably not.

When two addicts are in a relationship with one another, they are more likely to continue negatively enabling one another. It’s easy to convince the other person to continue using with you, and both parties may live in an unrealistic world driven by their addictive behaviors.

If two addicts are in a relationship, they would likely need someone outside of the relationship to step in and hold an intervention. They may be able to thrive together after treatment, but it would be very difficult.

If you’re an addict in a relationship with another addict, you need to first and foremost focus on your own recovery. You need to go through individual therapy and break the ties of co-dependency you likely had with your addicted partner. You need to be able to support your partner’s recovery, but not take the blame or responsibility for it. You also need to recognize patterns of codependency and learn how to have a healthy relationship.

Ultimately the answer to whether or not you can have a relationship with an addict is no, not a healthy one at least not while they’re using. You may be able to continue being in a relationship with an addict following treatment, however. During the treatment and recovery process, first and foremost the addiction element needs to be addressed, and then a couple may be able to move forward with how to rebuild the relationship itself.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.