The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines addiction as “a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence.” Addiction, clinically known as substance use disorder is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli without regard for consequence. An individual that struggles with addiction will prioritize satisfying her drug craving above all else. This will affect all areas of one’s life and can lead to damaged relationships, financial strain, legal complication, and a slew of adverse health consequences.
Addiction encourages the development and reinforcement of harmful patterns and behaviors that corrode relationships. The nature of this disease is all-encompassing, and therefore individuals struggling with an active addiction are inherently unable to achieve authentic intimacy with others. Verywell Mind explains that “intimacy refers to the ability to genuinely share your true self with another person and relates to the experience of closeness and connections.” Intimacy is not limited to romantic partnerships, but rather speaks to necessary elements of any close friendship, family tie, or partnership (e.g., closeness, vulnerability, familiarity, trust, etc.). Individuals that have struggled with addiction will have to re-learn how to prioritize relationships and other areas of life as they progress through the recovery process.