Loving an addict is one of the most difficult things anyone can go through. Whether you’re in a romantic relationship with this person or they are a family member or close friend, the situation can be incredibly difficult for various reasons. Although you might make your best efforts to love this person and be there for them, where do you draw the line? While loving a drug addict can be difficult, parting from one can be even harder. We wanted to share some tips on how to let go of a drug addict for those who have reached a breaking point with their loved ones.
Why Do Addicts Hurt the Ones They Love?
Addicts hurt their loved ones because they’re blinded by their addiction. While there are many layers to the psychology behind a drug or alcohol addiction, the plain and simple truth is that when it comes to addiction, the drug takes precedence over everything else. Even people who start as high-functioning drug users eventually succumb to the overpowering hold that drugs have.
So, when there’s a spouse, sibling, child, or close friend who’s struggling with a substance use disorder, they might lie, steal, manipulate, blame, and abuse the people who love them the most in an attempt to get more drugs and continue their behavior. While many people with drug addictions get drug or alcohol treatment before they get to this point, others lose their relationships due to their addictions.
Unfortunately, loving a drug addict also comes with a lot of self-blame. As a parent, you might say to yourself, “Maybe if I would’ve taught him… when he was younger, he wouldn’t be using drugs now”. As a spouse, you might think, “If I would’ve been more supportive, maybe she wouldn’t feel the need to drink.”
In these moments of self-blame, it’s important to remember that addiction is a multidimensional disease that’s caused by a variety of factors. So no matter how supportive you are with a spouse or with a child, they might still fall into addiction for a hundred other reasons. You are not to blame.
Letting Go Of A Drug Addict: When It’s Time and HowWhen to Leave an Addict
Loving someone with a drug addiction can be a slightly different experience for everyone, but there are general similarities among these relationships. One of these is understanding that the person’s drug use takes precedence over everything, even you. Understandably, people can begin to take this personally and feel hurt, but the addict’s brain is simply driven toward the goal of getting and using more drugs.
These individuals might also lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want, no matter how wrong it is. Oftentimes, there’s not much you can do to change this behavior. They might even be as charming and manipulative as possible to serve their purposes. But it’s nothing more than manipulation.
They aren’t doing this to hurt you, but rather to get more drugs or alcohol without much thought to the consequences of their actions. In the midst of this, you might get to the point where all you can do to help this person is avoid enabling them. This might mean denying them a place to crash after another night of heavy drinking or not lying for them if they’re caught with drugs by the authorities.
It's time to let go of an addict when:
- They’ve refused treatment and continue to use drugs despite the obvious repercussions.
- Their behavior poses a threat to you or your loved ones.
- Your attempts to help this person have put your life or the lives of others in danger.
- Your financial stability is threatened from your repeated attempts at helping this person.
- You or your loved ones are struggling with physical or mental health issues as a result of the person’s drug use, such as depression, anxiety, rage, or other issues.
At this point, you might have done everything in your power to help this person, and anything else that you do might only enable their behavior.
How to Let Go of an Addict
While you might have decided what you want to do, leaving an addict is another story. Making that step to separate from a spouse, part ways from your parents, or break off a close friendship can be heartbreaking. You might be fearful of whether that person will get worse without your supervision or support.
However, your constant presence might actually be enabling their behavior. They might believe they can keep using drugs or drinking because you’ll always be there to clean up their mess. Some people just need to be hit with a harsher reality to change their lives for the better.
Below are some tips on how to let go of a drug addict that you can follow:
- Set up boundaries and consequences.
- Let go of the idea that you can help them get better.
- Don’t blame yourself for their drug use.
- Don’t pay for their rent, groceries, or other expenses.
- Stop any financial, mental, or emotional support for any issues related to their addiction.
- Do not allow them to live in your home.
- Take a short break from your relationship or temporarily halt all contact.
- Completely cut off communication until they decide to get clean.
- End the relationship entirely until they decide to get clean.
Leaving a drug addict should be done with the ultimate goal of helping them achieve sobriety. In implementing these changes in your relationship with the person, there are also some proactive things you can do to help them, such as mentioning any consequences of their behaviors and talking to them about getting drug or alcohol treatment.
While you should avoid ultimatums and threats, simply be clear about the possible consequences should they refuse to get addiction treatment. This may include not being able to live in your home anymore or being cut off from the relationship entirely. Sometimes people need to hear what will happen and see it in action to believe it.
It’s also crucial to help them find help for their disorder. Offer them your constant support should they choose to seek treatment. Be willing to take them to all of their doctor appointments or offer them a ride to all of their group sessions. If they know they don’t have to do it alone, they might be more willing to take the plunge and get help.
You should also speak to a therapist or facility like our Central Texas rehab. We offer various drug and psychotherapy programs to help patients physically and mentally recover from addiction. We even offer family therapy and support to promote healing within the family unit as patients do some healing of their own.
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, Banyan Treatment Center can help. We offer inpatient drug addiction treatment in Texas as well as in other states to help addicts focus on their recovery and learn how to live sober lives.
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