Woman and man looking different directions in an argument.

Identifying Unhealthy Relationships

Healthy relationships are instrumental to one’s quality of life; they are perhaps especially important to those recovering from addiction or mental health conditions. Having a trusted and dependable support system allows for an environment where one can grow and thrive as they journey their way through recovery. While trying to maintain healthy relationships, whether platonic or romantic, there are certain traits and characteristics to be aware of in order to avoid a relationship becoming toxic.

Characteristics of a Toxic Relationship

While healthy relationships build people up, provide them with comfort and support, and allow their best selves to shine, toxic relationships only bring people down. These relationships are often one-sided, involve manipulation, and offer the victim no substance of value. Remaining in a damaging relationship like this prevents one from being themselves and obtaining their goals.


When one is being manipulated in a relationship, they often do not realize it. The manipulator will make the victim believe that they are the reason for any wrong-doings or struggles within the relationship. This type of manipulation is called blame-shifting. For example, if your partner is caught cheating, they may blame you for not putting enough into the relationship. If your friend gets in trouble, they may blame you for not watching out for them.


Gaslighting is a term used to describe when the manipulator intentionally makes the victim question their reality. The term is derived from a 1944 film, Gaslight, where a husband makes his wife believe she has a mental health condition in order to steal from her. In these instances, the manipulator will constantly discredit the victim by presenting false narratives that lead them to believe their reactions are irrational. Common phrases from a gaslighter include:

  • “You’ll never find somebody better than me.”

  • “You’re just being paranoid.”

  • “I’m only doing this because I love you.”

  • “You really think that…”

These types of statements can lead the victim into believing they are inadequate, insecure, and the source of any relationship problems.


Toxic relationships can often cause one to become detached from their prior social life, friendships, and relationships with others. Isolation occurs when one cuts off contact with others because the manipulator accuses them of not spending enough time with them.

How Relationships Affect Substance Abuse

Without healthy relationships to offer support and companionship, individuals struggling with addiction or mental health conditions can easily fall back into their old routines and relapse. Addiction and toxic relationships seek one another and create a vicious cycle. Only by removing negativity and focusing on maintaining healthy relationships can an individual thrive throughout recovery.

Contact Chattanooga Recovery Center For Support

A sober life is possible when you have people around to support you through recovery! At Chattanooga Recovery Center, our goal is to provide you with the compassionate care, support, and motivation required to start anew. If you are struggling with addiction or mental health conditions, contact us today to begin your journey to sobriety!

Call us today at (423) 226-5331 or reach out to us online to learn more about the support services we provide.


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