Interpersonal Relationships and Opioids

Relationships are an extremely important factor for establishing necessary emotional connections. Healthy and unhealthy relationships can determine the quality of someone’s wellbeing. When relationships are healthy, people feel respected and heard and work together to make each other feel loved. There is a strong level of trust and belonging as individuals strive to bring joy, support, and love to one another. Healthy relationships bring out the best in the involved parties in order to support their goals and encourage growth. Both parties are seen as equals in the relationships.

Boundaries in Relationships

Boundaries are central to creating positive relationships. This means 1 party can say no, and the other party or parties respect it. Parties understand they are not to apply pressure or force someone to do something they don’t want to do. Lacking healthy boundaries can encourage people to take on unhealthy behavior patterns of toxic people around us.

For instance, someone with weak boundaries who has a friend who abuses opioids may be easily influenced to abuse opioids. Soon, there can be a budding opioid dependence. Studies show adolescents who have tried drugs often did so through peer pressure or wanted to fit in.

We can set boundaries for

  • Personal space
  • Sexuality
  • Belongings or possessions
  • Emotions or thoughts
  • Time and energy
  • Culture, religion, and ethics

When we set boundaries, we are honoring ourselves. There are many benefits of boundaries, including increased self-esteem, conserving emotional energy, and increased independence.

The word boundary can be a bit misleading. It conveys the idea of keeping yourself separate. However, boundaries are actually connecting points because they provide healthy rules for navigating relationships, both intimate and professional.

To determine one’s boundaries:

  • Ask, “what are my rights?”
  • Follow your gut
  • Determine your personal values

Our boundaries are shaped by:

  • Our heritage or culture
  • The region we live in or come from
  • Whether we’re introverted, extroverted, or somewhere in between
  • Our life experiences
  • Our family dynamics

Unhealthy Abusive Relationships

Abusive relationships are characterized by 1 or 2 people controlling, blaming, manipulating, and isolating others. Furthermore, abusive relationships often include a lack of trust and respect and a violation of one’s boundaries. As a result, there is pressure, hitting, devaluing, and much damage done to the victim. Additionally, there can be spiritual, mental, sexual, and financial abuse as someone attempts to control and damage another’s resources and sense of value.

Types of Abuse in Unhealthy Relationships

Physical violence is often the first image many get when they think of abusive relationships. It is characterized by hitting, punching, shocking, or beating someone. This is the type of abuse most think of when the think of abusive relationships. Sexual abuse exploits another’s sexual boundaries in order to establish dominance and power. This can include lacing someone’s drink with harmful substance to take advantage of them when they are unconscious.

Emotional abuse is another component of abusive relationships, marked by inflicting emotional harm on someone. In some cases, emotional abusers lack the empathy to see the impact of one’s actions on another. They may belittle their partner, make condescending remarks, or accuse their partner of cheating. Abusers may dismiss a victim’s negative reactions to their emotional pain as “crazy” and “too sensitive” in order to downplay their harmful actions. They may humiliate or devalue their partner in order to control their behavior.

The abuse of suffering can result in the victim developing traumas, emotional and mental disorders and opioid use disorders. Any behavior that is damaging and disrespects the boundaries of another or inflicts pressure of another can classify as abuse. It is important to leave or get help as soon as possible.

Unhealthy Toxic Relationships

Toxic relationships differ from abusive relationships but are still harmful to others. Both types of relationships should be avoided as they can affect one’s sense of joy. Relationship toxicity can stem from manipulation, or a need to control, but it may not have abusive results. The result of toxic behaviors in a relationship can create arguments, frustrations, confusion, and resentment. These behaviors can range from:

  • Belittling
  • Mistrust
  • Dishonesty
  • Resentment
  • Poor communication
  • Secrecy
  • Invalidation
  • Mean jokes or put downs
  • Assumptions
  • Stonewalling

Toxic relationships negatively affect one’s health and wellbeing. If someone has a history of opioid abuse, they may again turn to drugs for a false sense of comfort.

Relationships and Opioid Abuse

Healthy Relationships Bring Both Parties Up and Are Critical for Those in Opioid Recovery

The quality of a relationship greatly determines someone’s relationship with substance abuse. To illustrate, if someone has a history of abusing opioids to deal with stress, they may begin using again if their relationship turns stressful. If someone experiencing anxiety and depression endures toxic relationships, they may also self-medicate in unhealthy ways.

On the other hand, people with opioid use disorders can impact their relationships. For instance, parents who abuse opioids teach kids to cope with stress through substance abuse. Couples battling opioid abuse can enable each other–excusing the other’s behavior or supplying each other with drugs. Individuals who use opioids to cope can create tense relationships or develop habits to fuel their substance abuse. Some can endanger their lives and risk dying.

Codependency and Substance Abuse

Codependency is a potentially harmful practice in relationships. Although codependent people have good intentions and can be of much help to others, they can unknowingly harm themselves. Codependency is characterized by people looking for others for self-worth and self-esteem. In their pursuit of self-worth and validation, they may enter unhealthy relationships.

Codependents may subconsciously be attracted to abusive personality types in attempts to rescue or rehabilitate the individual. Moreover, they may enter into relationships with people experiencing opioid use disorders for similar reasons. In helping the person with an opioid use disorder, they may see themself as having worth as they are caring for and having compassion for their partner, when in fact they are enabling them.

Codependents may be prone to blaming in relationships and having little to no boundaries. They may use manipulation out of feelings of low self-esteem and the need to please. Due to these inner challenges, relationships with codependents, or people codependents become involved with may be unhealthy. Hence, toxic behavioral coping like alcoholism, anxiety and depression can occur.

Form Healthy Relationships Through Sobriety

Once someone makes a decision to get help for an Opioid use disorder, the people they are around after rehab are critical to their wellbeing. People seeking comfort in harmful substances as a result of abuse can get help in a safe environment. If you or a loved one needs counseling from unhealthy or abusive alcohol use, and uses harmful chemicals, help is available. The first step is to realize you deserve a life of peace, love, and sobriety. Peer groups like 12-Step groups allow people to bond with a like-minded community. Contact a treatment provider for rehab related questions.