What To Do When Someone You Love Has an Addiction
Loving someone who has an addiction can be painful and confusing when you don’t understand what’s going on with them or how to help them in the right way.
Here are the things you need to think about when you’re close to someone who has an addiction:
Assess The Situation
No two situations are exactly alike.
When someone you love falls into addiction it’s important to have an honest look at your situation so you can determine what your next step should be.
Is your situation life-threatening to you or anyone else? It could be your kids or you or someone else you share a home with.
Living with an addict is a real risk.
They are unpredictable, sometimes dangerous but most importantly they are not in control.
So if your situation makes you feel like there’s a serious risk, you need to get out before you can do anything else.
Do not try to be a hero in a situation where somebody’s life is at risk, addicts are not able to rationalize and will not act in the way that they would before they became addicted.
If you want to maintain your relationship with the person who has an addiction you will have to be strategic about it. But you will still need to get out before you can get your loved one on the road to recovery.
Once you are in a position to do so, get your loved one the help he/she needs. Recovery Centers of America have 24-hour helplines and can help you through the rehabilitation process.
You Come First
Maintaining a relationship with an addict is brutal in so many ways.
Emotionally it can and will wreck you.
Loving this person who looks like someone you love but talks and acts like someone completely different, someone who would do anything to get their high, will mess with anyone’s head.
So from now on, your first responsibility is to take care of yourself (and other dependants like kids) like it is your sole purpose in life.
Love yourself harder than anyone else, because the road to recovery is not an easy one for any parties involved.
See your friends and family that make you happy.
Take care of your health and do things that make you feel alive and inspired.
Addiction is a soul-sucking pit, it will drag in anyone who doesn’t fight to get out and even though you may not be the addict, there’s a special sort of hell you go through when you let the pit suck you in with the person you love.
Not to mention that addicts have no regard for anything or anyone else.
Focus on The Right Things
Blame is an endless search and a vicious cycle that only adds more misery to the situation.
Know that this isn’t your loved one’s fault, and it isn’t yours either.
Addiction is a disease and it takes no prisoners.
The best you can do is to focus on the things you can control and the things you can do to help your loved one:
Different addictive tendencies are triggered by different things in people. No one acts the same way but educating yourself about the specific type of addiction, the withdrawal, as well as the actual rehabilitation process, can really go a long way towards helping you cope.
Set Very Firm Boundaries
Manipulation is a language that addicts can become very fluent in very fast.
It’s crucial to set up boundaries that not only protect you but also support recovery and not enabling.
Learn the difference between what enables and what supports recovery and build your boundaries around that.
Always remember that the person you love is buried under the addiction, the addiction is the thing that’s talking to you, trying to persuade you to give in to what it wants.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.
Get comfortable with them, because they’re there to stay.
When Dealing With The Addict In Your Life
As you may have guessed, there are do’s and don’ts when it comes to dealing with addicts. They are fragile and relentless at the same time.
Here are some ground rules to establish something resembling effective communication:
Be Kind and Gentle
Even Though you may probably have anger or resentment bubbling up inside you every time you see this person who has caused you so much pain, remember that it’s very likely that person is angrier and more resentful at themselves deep inside.
When talking to an addict always be kind and gentle towards an addict in recovery and remind yourself that this is the person you love, he/she is very sick with a massively complicated disease.
Stand Your Ground.
Remember those boundaries we talked about?
This is where they come into play.
The addict will push you because it’s obvious that you care.
Make sure that your no is no and yes is yes.
You will have to be strong.
Something else to keep in mind is, in the same way most treatments work for illness, things will probably get worse before they get better.
Prepare yourself mentally for some heartache, pain, and anguish while helping this person through the first part of recovery.
Change Your Perspective
Life with an addict is a stressful rollercoaster of fears and boundaries.
Yes, recovery is possible for those who fight for it, but relapsing is very common (40-60%)
There’s a substantial chance that you can have a normal enough life with a recovering addict.
There’s also a substantial chance that you will have to endure the person you love having endless relapsing, drug-related health problems or even overdosing.
The sad truth is no one knows which way this will go.
But despite that, it is important for you to maintain hope whilst also preparing yourself that you may have to make some really tough decisions to protect yourself and others from the heartbreak a drug problem can cause.