Paul Chastain
March 25, 2024

13 Reasons Why Dating A Drug Addict is Danger

Dating is hard enough as it is. According to Pew Research Center, about 50% of Americans think dating is harder now than a decade ago. Of these people, 21% think it's because of increased risk, including physical risk and the risk of getting lied to or scammed. Others sighted technology, changing societal expectations, morals, gender roles, and the casual nature of dating.

Substance abuse complicates the issue further. Addiction rewires the brain in ways that make it hard for the person who is struggling to show up in the relationship as they should. They will prioritize drugs, not communicate well, break promises, and even get into legal and financial issues. Unless your date actively seeks help, these challenges will likely persist and continue to strain the relationship.

This article will highlight the dangers of dating a former drug addict (or an active addict) and how to navigate the relationship if you choose to stay.

Understanding Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a complex condition where a person can't stop using a substance despite harmful consequences. It's often marked by a compulsive desire to seek out and use drugs, even when it causes problems in one's life. Drug addiction is characterized by: 

  • Loss of control: People with addiction often find it challenging to control their drug use. They might want to stop or cut down, but the urge is too strong to resist.
  • Cravings: Intense cravings for drugs are common in addiction. These cravings can be triggered by various factors like stress, seeing someone else use drugs, or being in places associated with drug use.
  • Physical dependence: With prolonged drug use, the body can become physically dependent on the substance. This means the person might experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using.
  • Tolerance: Over time, the body can tolerate the drug, meaning the person needs higher doses to achieve the same effects.
  • Continued use despite consequences: Despite experiencing negative consequences like health problems, relationship issues, or legal troubles, individuals with addiction continue to use drugs.

People become addicted to drugs due to a range of factors like: 

  • Genetics and biology: Some people may be more genetically predisposed to addiction due to variations in their brain chemistry.
  • Mental health disorders: Conditions like depression, anxiety, and trauma can increase the risk of addiction as individuals may use drugs to cope with their symptoms.
  • Environmental factors: Exposure to drug use at an early age, peer pressure, and stress can all contribute to the development of addiction.
  • Availability: Easy access to drugs, whether legal or illegal, can make it more likely for someone to develop an addiction.

13 Dangers of Dating an Addict

Drug and alcohol addiction can affect anyone. And unfortunately, once it happens, it cannot go away alone. People struggling with addiction need help to be able to regain control of their lives. Otherwise, they will continue to cycle through periods of substance use, withdrawal, and cravings.

When you get involved with someone struggling with addiction, whether you're emotionally invested or in a romantic relationship, it can introduce various risks and challenges that may significantly impact your well-being and the health of the relationship. Here are some dangers of dating a person with an addiction:

1. Potential Violence

Dating someone struggling with addiction can put you at risk of experiencing violence in the relationship. Studies have shown that nearly 80% of domestic violence cases are related to the use of drugs or alcohol.

2. Verbal Violence

Your partner may resort to verbal abuse, using hurtful language, insults, and threats to manipulate and control you. They may blame you for their addiction or use words to undermine your self-esteem and confidence.

3. Emotional Violence

This can manifest in various forms, including manipulation, gaslighting, and psychological manipulation. Your partner may play mind games, manipulate your emotions, and make you feel guilty or responsible for their addiction.

4. Physical Violence

Substance abuse can lower inhibitions and lead to aggressive behavior. Your partner may become physically violent during episodes of intoxication or withdrawal, putting your safety and well-being at risk. Physical violence can range from pushing, hitting, or even more severe forms of assault.

5. Emotional Strain

A relationship with someone who abuses substances is like a roller-coaster ride. Their behavior and emotional state tend to fluctuate dramatically depending on whether they're sober, intoxicated, or experiencing withdrawal symptoms. They might seem remorseful, loving, and committed to change when sober. However, this can quickly change when they relapse or experience cravings, leading to feelings of frustration, disappointment, and heartache for you.

6. Manipulative Behavior

People who abuse substances often resort to manipulation and deceit to hide their addiction or justify their behavior. They may lie about their substance use, manipulate your emotions to enable their addiction, or downplay the severity of their problem. This can erode trust and create a toxic dynamic in the relationship.

7. Risk of Relapse

Relapse is always a risk when dating a drug addict in recovery. About 40 to 60% of people relapse within 30 days of addiction treatment. This means that your partner could start using drugs again after trying to quit – even if they seem like they're doing well in their recovery. Relapse can be tough emotionally and can strain the relationship because it brings back all the old problems associated with addiction.

8. Financial Instability

Addiction can lead to serious financial problems. Your partner might spend a lot of money on drugs, leaving little left for necessities like rent, bills, or groceries. They might even resort to borrowing money or stealing to support their habit, which can also strain your finances.

9. Legal Issues

Drug addiction often goes hand in hand with legal problems. Your partner might get into trouble with the law due to drug possession, selling drugs, or other related crimes. This can lead to arrests, court appearances, and even jail time, which can be stressful and disruptive for both of you.

10. Health Risks

As NIDA puts it, those with substance use disorders often have one or more associated health issues like mental health issues, stroke, cancer, or heart disease. They are also likely to get into accidents or sustain injuries due to impaired judgment or coordination. On top of that, there's a risk of contracting infectious diseases since your partner may share needles or engage in risky sexual behaviors while under the influence. Combining these factors creates a complex and potentially hazardous situation for the two of you.

11. Unpredictability

Another danger of dating a drug addict boyfriend or girlfriend is the unpredictability of their behavior. When someone is struggling with addiction, their actions and moods can be very unpredictable. They might promise to quit one day and then relapse the next. This unpredictability can make it hard to trust them, leading to constant stress and uncertainty in the relationship.

12. Enabling Behavior

Dating a drug addict can sometimes lead to enabling behavior, where you unintentionally support or enable their addiction instead of helping them overcome it. This could include making excuses for their behavior, giving them money to buy drugs, or covering up for them when they're in trouble. Enabling behavior can prolong their addiction and make it harder for them to get the help they need.

13. Social Isolation

Addiction can often lead to social isolation, both for the person struggling with addiction and their loved ones. Your partner's focus may become solely centered around obtaining and using drugs, leaving little time or energy for socializing or maintaining relationships. This leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation for both of you, as you may find yourselves withdrawing from friends and family to avoid judgment or embarrassment.

Good Things Can Come Out Of It

If you want your relationship to work despite your partner's addiction problem, there are several steps you can take to support them effectively and strengthen your bond:

Encourage and Support Treatment

If your partner is willing to seek help for their addiction, offer your full support and encouragement. Help them research treatment options, accompany them to appointments, and provide emotional support. Let them know that you believe in their ability to overcome their addiction and that you'll be there to support them every step of the way.

Educate Yourself

Take the time to educate yourself about addiction, its causes, and its effects on individuals and relationships. Addiction is a complex illness. When you understand its impacts, you'll be able to empathize with your partner's struggles and provide more effective support. You also want to learn about healthy coping strategies and communication techniques to navigate the challenges of being in a relationship with someone in recovery.

Communicate Openly and Honestly

Maintain open and honest communication with your partner about their addiction and how it's affecting your relationship. Express your concerns, feelings, and needs in a non-judgmental and supportive manner. Encourage your partner to communicate their thoughts and emotions, creating a safe and supportive environment for both of you to express yourselves.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Establish boundaries within the relationship to protect your well-being and encourage your partner's recovery. Communicate your boundaries calmly and assertively, and enforce them consistently. Examples of boundaries may include:

  • Avoiding certain triggers or situations
  • Maintaining sobriety during specific activities
  • Seeking professional help when needed

Take Care of Yourself

Prioritize your self-care and well-being while supporting your partner through their recovery journey. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, practice stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness or meditation, and seek support from friends, family, or a therapist when needed. Remember that you can't effectively support someone else without caring for yourself first.

Encourage Healthy Habits

Encourage your partner to adopt healthy habits and coping mechanisms supporting recovery. They can practice regular exercise, nutritious eating, and stress management techniques and participate in support groups or therapy. Offer to join them in these activities or provide encouragement and accountability as needed.

Know When To Quit

You deserve to be in a relationship that is healthy, fulfilling, and supportive of your needs. So, as much as you're trying to help, you also want to be honest about their recovery efforts. Are they:

  • Actively seeking help?
  • Attending therapy or support groups?
  • Making tangible progress towards overcoming their addiction?

Evaluate whether their actions align with their words and are committed to positive changes for themselves and the relationship. Think about the long-term prospects of the relationship and whether you envision a healthy and fulfilling future together. Consider whether you can realistically see yourself continuing to support your partner through their recovery journey and whether you are willing to navigate the challenges that may arise along the way.

If you find that the relationship is negatively impacting your mental, emotional, or physical health, or if your partner's efforts toward recovery are insufficient to support a healthy and fulfilling partnership, it may be necessary to reassess the relationship and consider making difficult decisions for your own sake.

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