The impact of Addictions on Relationships

The use of alcohol and substances can complicate any relationship. The problematic use of alcohol and drugs can lead a non-using partner to feel confused, frustrated, and alone.


Living with a substance-abusing partner is often incompatible with creating and maintaining a healthy romantic connection. Whether both partners have an addiction or one is sober, the emotional impact of addiction damages both.

Marriages in which one or both partners abuse drugs or alcohol are four to seven times more likely to end in separation.

Treating addiction and relationship issues

At Side by Side Counselling, our therapists have the necessary knowledge and training to treat both the addiction and the relationship issues so that relationships can be maintained through the challenges of gaining long-term recovery for both partners.

We work with intensive systemic-focused interventions to treat addictions within the couple-family context alongside the individual with the addiction.

How addictions impact a relationship

The relational tension common in the couples with a partner struggling with addiction often creates a dynamic that continuously triggers the substance- abusing partner to either increase substance use or relapse from recovery.

The partner who does not abuse substances often feels hurt and anger associated with carrying the heavy burden of maintaining the relationship while forgoing their own individual and relational longings. The unhealthy dynamic between addiction and relationship stress creates a downward spiral of addiction and marital duress which couples find hard to escape.

Addictions whether they involve alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography or other problematic behaviours, represent a societal problem that is steadily growing and contributes to the destruction of families and communities. Addiction affects all areas of the lives of sufferers, including their health, employment, finances, family-of-origin relationships, and intimate and current family relationships.

Addiction fundamentally erodes core aspects of committed relationships, including trust, commitment, friendship, emotional intimacy, and communication. Understanding the nature and development of substance dependence is complicated and the challenges it brings to a relationship need to be understood and treated appropriately for the success of the relationship.

Read about our relationship counselling services or contact us to discuss your concerns.