Why Do Addicts Hurt the Ones They Love?

Addiction can have a devastating impact not only on the addict but also on their relationships with those closest to them. The effects of addiction on relationships can range from strained communication to emotional and physical abuse. However, one of the most puzzling aspects of addiction is why addicts often end up hurting the people they love. 

Here, we’ll explore some of the reasons why addicts hurt their friends and family members. And we’ll shed light on this complex issue. We will also discuss the importance of seeking help and support for both the addict and their loved ones.

Addiction and its effects on the brain

Addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain’s reward system, leading to compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite negative consequences. The brain’s reward system is designed to reinforce behaviors that promote survival. Things such as eating and socializing, by releasing feel-good chemicals like dopamine. However, drugs can hijack this system, causing an overabundance of dopamine that reinforces drug use and leads to addiction.

In addition, addiction can also affect areas of the brain responsible for decision-making and impulse control. This can lead to impulsive behavior, poor judgment, and a lack of self-control. As a result, addicts may engage in risky behaviors, neglect responsibilities, and make choices that hurt themselves and loved ones. Understanding the impact of addiction on the brain can help us better understand why addicts may hurt those closest to them.

The cycle of addiction

The cycle of addiction is a repeating pattern that includes three main stages: 

  • Craving: This refers to the intense desire or urge to use drugs. It can be triggered by environmental cues, stress, or other factors. 
  • Using: The consumption of drugs to achieve a desired effect, such as euphoria or relief from negative emotions is using. 
  • Withdrawal: This occurs when the effects of the drugs wear off, leading to uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea, shaking, and anxiety.

This cycle can create a sense of emotional instability and unpredictability in addicts. During the craving stage, addicts may become irritable, anxious, or depressed as they struggle with the urge to use drugs. The using stage can lead to erratic behavior, impaired judgment, and a lack of concern for consequences. Finally, the withdrawal stage can cause physical and emotional distress, which can lead to mood swings, irritability, and aggression.

This unpredictability can strain relationships and create a sense of chaos for those closest to the addict. It can also lead to a breakdown in communication and trust. Thus making it difficult for friends and family to support the addict. 

By understanding the cycle of addiction, we can begin to address the root causes of addictive behavior. Additionally, we can help loved ones cope with the emotional toll of addiction.

Couple in an argument as the result of addiction

The impact of addiction on relationships

Addiction can have a profound impact on relationships, often leading to strained communication, trust issues, and emotional and physical abuse. As addiction takes hold, family and friends may feel ignored, neglected, or even betrayed by the addict’s behavior. Communication breakdowns can occur as the addict becomes more focused on obtaining and using drugs. Consequently leaving little time or energy for meaningful interactions with loved ones.

These effects can have long-lasting consequences on relationships. They can create a sense of trauma and distrust that can be difficult to overcome. It’s essential for the addict and their loved ones to seek help to address these issues and begin healing.

Why addicts hurt the ones they love

There are several possible reasons why addicts may hurt the people closest to them. One reason is that addiction can become all-consuming. This causes the addict to prioritize obtaining and using drugs over their relationships. 

As a result, this leads to neglect of loved ones, leaving them feeling unsupported and unimportant. For example, an addict may miss important family events or neglect their children’s needs in favor of drug use.

Another reason is that addiction can cause intense feelings of shame, guilt, and self-loathing. Often, this can manifest as anger or resentment. The addict may blame their loved ones for their addiction or feel that they are judging them harshly. 

This can lead to emotional outbursts, verbal abuse, or even physical violence. For instance, an addict may lash out at a spouse who expresses concern about their drug use.

Finally, addiction can lead to a need for control, which can lead to manipulation or emotional abuse. The addict may feel that their addiction is a personal matter and become defensive when loved ones try to intervene. They may use emotional manipulation to avoid confronting their addiction. 

An example is making false promises to stop using drugs. Another would be threatening to harm themselves if loved ones push them to seek help. This can cause family and friends to feel helpless, frustrated, and even traumatized by the addict’s behavior.

These issues are not unique to addiction, but they are amplified by the intense emotions and behaviors associated with addiction. By understanding these issues, loved ones can begin to address the root causes of the addict’s behavior. And they can seek help for both the addict and themselves.

A hand reaching out for help

The importance of seeking help

Seeking help for addiction is crucial for both the addict and their loved ones. Addiction is a complex disease that requires professional help to overcome. Without proper treatment programs, addiction can worsen over time and lead to severe health consequences, financial ruin, and even death.

For the addict, seeking help can provide access to resources and support that can help them overcome their addiction. This can include therapy, support groups, and rehabilitation programs. They can provide the tools and skills necessary to maintain sobriety and rebuild their relationships. 

It is important for addicts to understand that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. They must also recognize that recovery is possible with the right support.

For family and friends, seeking help provides access to resources and support for coping with the impact on their lives. This can include therapy, support groups, and educational resources. This can help loved ones understand addiction and develop coping strategies to maintain their own mental and emotional health. 

It is important for those closest to the addict to understand that addiction is a disease. And, more importantly, that they are not responsible for the addict’s behavior. By seeking help, loved ones can begin to heal and rebuild their relationships with the addict.

There are many resources available for addiction treatment, including therapy, support groups, and rehabilitation programs. These resources can vary in cost and availability, but many communities offer free or low-cost options for those in need. Researching available resources and seeking out those that best meet their needs is crucial.


Addiction can be a destructive force that can strain relationships, create emotional instability, and lead to unpredictable behavior. And it can cause individuals to hurt the people closest to them in a variety of ways. 

However, addiction is a treatable disease, and seeking help is the first step towards recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available that can provide the tools and support needed to overcome addiction.

At Whispering Oaks Lodge, we understand the challenges of addiction. We are committed to providing individualized care and support to each of our clients. 

If you’re ready to take the first step towards recovery, we encourage you to reach out to our team today. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and the journey towards recovery is possible with the right support and resources.

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