According to the most recent statistics, 165 million Americans over the age of 12 struggle with substance abuse. These people are addicted to prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco products, and illegal drugs. Many of those who suffer from these kinds of addictions aren't always aware of the harm they cause themselves, let alone the harm they inflict on their loved ones. Substance abuse not only takes a toll on the one who has the addiction, but it also has a detrimental effect on those with whom they are in a relationship.

Loved Ones Experience Negative Effects

Sometimes the people who get hurt the most by someone with an addiction are the ones who are trying to help. This is usually a parent or spouse but can also include co-workers, relatives, and friends. It's normal to help someone who appears to need it, especially if they are in dire need of substance abuse treatment. However, oftentimes what ends up happening is a breakdown in the relationship.

Some of the more common negative effects substance abuse has on relationships include constant conflict, financial troubles, and hurt feelings. A person who is suffering from untreated substance abuse might also be physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive to loved ones trying to help.

Loved Ones Become Codependent

Many times the person who is trying to help ends up becoming codependent. Because of the codependent person's need to be in a relationship, they get caught in the trap of covering for the one who has the addiction and ends up lying and making excuses for them. People in codependent relationships also try to rescue the addict from experiencing the negative consequences of their actions. The codependent person usually has an emotional need to help addicts and feels immense guilt when they don't.

The codependent person doesn't realize they are harming the person suffering from substance abuse much more than they are helping. In some instances, the codependent person will even stay in a relationship when the person with the addiction breaks the law, loses their job, or spends all their money. More often than not, dealing with someone who has an addiction requires "tough love," as hard as this may be. In many instances, the person engaged in substance abuse will get angry at someone who stops enabling them and will discontinue the relationship, which is why the codependent relationship often continues.

This type of relationship is very dysfunctional and can cause much damage to the one who is codependent. For people who find themselves becoming codependent, the good news is there is help and treatment available for them too, not just the addict.

For more information on substance abuse, contact a professional near you.