Drug and alcohol problems permeate all classes, cultures and demographics. America’s largest minority – the disabled – are perhaps at even greater risk of developing addictions than other groups due to a number of factors. For one, many forms of disability, such as blindness and deafness, are not adequately accounted for in the many options for rehab and counseling. Furthermore, many driving forces of addiction stem from issues in which the disabled are especially vulnerable: bullying, loneliness and depression.
Developing a psychological and/or physiological dependence on drugs and/or alcohol affects men more than women. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when addiction exists in relationships involving one or more people living with a disability, it’s almost always the man with the problem. That doesn’t mean the coin doesn’t sometimes flip the other way; it’s simply that one side weighs more than the other.
Sometimes, the most common denominator in the many relationships where a man has an addiction issue is that the drug or alcohol problem existed prior to the start of the relationship. This is not immediately evident to the woman, her friends or her family because the addicted individual is temporarily cured by romance. He is willing to put drugs and alcohol to the side – at least relative to his typical consumption – because feelings of love for another person override the love of a bottle, needle, pill or pipe.
Women, especially those with disabilities, must be particularly careful not to let men use them as a temporary cure for their addictions. Though seemingly benign at the beginning, drug and alcohol problems lead to further issues. For example, dual diagnosis for men can start with addiction and leads to mental health disorders, whereas for women, it’s the other way around. While not every addict eventually becomes bipolar, depressed or OCD, many do. Women who get romantically involved with men suffering from drug and alcohol addictions have to weigh the risks before taking the relationship to the next level.
Men: relationships cannot be used as substitutes or distractions from drug and alcohol addiction. Recognize when chemical dependence exists and take appropriate steps toward fixing the problem without forming a new dependency on somebody rather than something. Seek recovery treatment, counseling and online support.
Let’s say the relationship is already underway. In this case, accept your partner’s help in solving the addiction problem. Do not ever tell a woman she’s wrong for wanting to change you. Do not use her love as a weapon to get what you want – mainly the substances your body and mind crave.
Appreciate that someone is there for you. Honor her commitment by doing your best to beat the drug and alcohol demons once and for all. Keep her happy, and make sure to still find time to ask her about her day. No matter how dramatic of a rehabilitation you’re going through, life goes on in many other ways for those around you. Be mindful of her wants and needs like she is of yours, and not only will addiction be conquered, but loved will grow.
–Sara Stringer is a freelance writer who most enjoys blogging about lifestyle, relationships and life as a woman. In her spare time, she enjoys soaking up the sunshine with her husband and two kids. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article.
[Photo via We Heart It]