Menu Close

Build a foundation for lasting recovery

Identifying Toxic Relationships

a person struggling with toxic relationships expressed through overlaid images of painful emotion

If you or a loved one is living with substance abuse, you likely know that it affects all areas of life, relationships very much included. Sadly, toxic relationships can both contribute to substance abuse and develop in response to it. Seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is a great first step if you and your loved ones could use help. Reach out to Evoke Wellness at 866.429.2960 or online to begin the journey toward lasting change. With locations in Chicago, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Florida, we offer a wide range of effective treatments. These include a stellar family program to help identify and heal toxic relationships and their effects on substance abuse.

What Family Dynamics Can Indicate that Toxic Relationships Are Present?

There are many ways toxicity can show up in relationships, but several throughlines exist nonetheless. Here are a few key patterns to watch for that may indicate a family dynamic has become toxic:

  • Damaging financial behavior is present – Seeking to control shared finances or being dishonest or secretive about one’s use of shared resources are two major examples of toxic financial behavior.
  • Controlling behavior is prevalent – This can show up as ordering a family member around, frequently demanding to see their phone or otherwise monitoring their media presence, or attempting to forbid certain behaviors like seeing friends or even going to work.
  • Harsh or damaging communication happens frequently – This can manifest as being overly critical, refusing to engage in a meaningful way, or “gaslighting” a family member so that they question their perceptions of reality.

Habituated disrespect is a hallmark of relationships. This happens when a family member repeatedly shows another member that they do not value their needs, feelings, or thoughts. Failure to hold them in basic esteem can also indicate habitual disrespect.

How Do Toxic Relationships Overlap with Substance Abuse?

There are many ways that toxic relationships and substance abuse can mutually inform one another. In some cases, a toxic or even directly abusive relationship may trigger substance abuse. For example, a spouse regularly being physically assaulted by their partner might turn to drugs as a way to numb the pain. Especially when the numbing agent is a chemically habit-forming substance, this can easily trigger patterns of dependence and addiction.

In other cases, substance abuse may already be present at the time toxic relationship dynamics develop. For example, a parent might have struggled with alcohol abuse for years before becoming a mother or father. When the family faces life stressors, the parent’s underlying addiction may prompt them to treat loved ones in harmful ways. For example, they may unfairly blame children for their very existence because of the financial stress it causes or have angry outbursts if a spouse calls them out for their substance abuse.

Enabling Behavior

Unfortunately, another very common way that toxic relationships and substance abuse interact is through enabling. Emotional health and substance abuse are some of the most challenging topics couples, parents, and families in general face together. It’s little wonder, then, that the temptation to look for “easy” answers is strong. When family members enable one another, they look for immediate relief from painful feelings or situations. They are likewise often working to preserve the status quo.

Enabling may involve protecting a family member from facing the consequences of their addiction. One example would be repeatedly bailing them of jail for their arrests on drunk driving charges. Failing to uphold boundaries, repeatedly excusing loved ones’ addictions, or avoiding painful conversations altogether can all be forms of enabling.

Break Free from Toxic Relationships and Substance Abuse by Contacting Evoke Wellness Today

Seeking professional help with addiction recovery and/or toxic relationships isn’t easy. The task is worthwhile, however, because of the far-reaching benefits it can provide you and your loved ones. People in recovery benefit from family therapy since their primary support network is reinvigorated. Family members benefit in that they gain agency, insight, and concrete skill sets going forward. For assistance today, call the knowledgeable staff at Evoke Wellness at 866.429.2960 or fill out our confidential contact form online.