If you have any kind of relationship with an addict, you know very well that you can’t change their behavior. However, you can change how you react to the situation and take care of yourself. The hardest kind of relationship is a loving, romantic relationship. Perhaps the person you love wasn’t yet an addict when you met or you didn’t know the extent of their problem.
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Now, you are in love and it’s hard to let go of those feelings. You don’t necessarily have to end the relationship, but you do need to learn how to take better care of yourself and stop enabling the addict in your life. Here’s how to approach the problem to benefit both of you at the same time.
This is much like when you create a list of rules and consequences for your child. You need to decide what you’re willing to put up with and then stick to your guns when that boundary is crossed. Perhaps you prefer not to have drugs or alcohol in your home. If that boundary is crossed, you could ask the other person to leave the house and return when they have got rid of the items. Perhaps you agree that you will file for divorce if your partner is ever arrested for actions associated with their addiction. These boundaries allow you to have an action plan when things get to be too much or when your personal safety or comfort is compromised.
Stop Helping Them
This might sound heartless and mean, but when you stop jumping to your loved one’s aid, that person is forced to face up to the consequences of their actions and figure out how to solve the problem. In some cases, this will help a person decide that being an addict isn’t worth it, and they may decide to head down the road to recovery.
This means that if your loved one gets a fine or ticket, they must pay it themselves. Perhaps they crashed their car while under the influence. It’s now up to them to figure out public transportation or another way to get from here to there. Experts say that it’s fine to offer love and support, but that’s as far as it should go. You can be supportive without solving the problem and bailing your loved one out once again.
Get Your Own Support Network
When you love an addict, it cannot be stressed enough how much you need a support network of your own. It’s very hard to love someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and having people who can support you when it gets tough can be a real lifesaver. Instead of keeping what you’re going through a secret, talk about how hard it is, and seek out people who understand and can help you.
Join a support network for people who love an addict, and you’ll have a whole set of people who can commiserate with you and share tips that might help you. At the very least you’ll have a group of people who understand you and are there to listen when things get too hard to handle on your own.
Take Care Of Yourself
It’s very important to take care of yourself when you love an addict because being in this situation can often leave you feeling a complete lack of control over life in general. You never know when the choices of your addict are going to interfere with your life, so taking control where you can helps a lot.
In addition to having a good support network, be sure you are eating healthy foods and getting enough exercise. Spend time with friends, and do the things you enjoy as often as possible. Doing so gives you a sense of control over many areas of your life, which can help balance out the loss of control you have when you love an addict.
Help Without Enabling
There is a difference between helping and enabling. Giving an addict money, letting them live with you, driving them places or making sure they eat would be considered enabling. That’s because an addict will take advantage of those things to drive their addiction rather than using them to make a better life. You can still help your loved one by offering support when they try to quit. You can let them know that you are ready and willing to help them work through the issues driving the addiction, but you will no longer let their problems interfere with your life.
Practice Saying “No”
It will be very hard to learn now to say “no” to your addict, but the experts say that is one of the most important things you can do when you love someone addicted to drugs or alcohol. Going against your gut feeling of helping whenever they ask is going to be very difficult to get through, but you’ll find that learning to say “no” gives you back the power in the relationship and lets you live your life without letting the addiction of someone else rule your life. Say “no” when your addict asks for money, a ride, food or a place to stay. Learning to go against your gut will be one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself.
Break Your Own Addiction
You might not be addicted to drugs or alcohol, but perhaps you are addicted to bailing out your loved one or keeping their secret. Your addiction is driving the other addiction, and you need to stop right now. Stop letting your loved one keep you from doing the things you enjoy and making your life difficult. Use the tips above to take back the control, and show your addict that you will no longer be putting up with it. Breaking your own addiction may be just what it takes to help your loved one break theirs.
Loving an addict may well be the hardest thing you ever have to face in your life. Learning how to cope is important because it helps you resist letting the addiction of someone else ruin your life. At the same time, your actions can help your loved one see that their addiction could ruin their own life and that getting help to break it is vital for your relationship.
If you need help, seek counseling so that you can learn techniques and behaviors that can get you through the hard times that are inevitable when you love an addict. Your choices can influence your loved one’s choices, and that could be the miracle you’ve both been looking for. Helping yourself can help your addict and that’s something you’ll both be so glad you did. It won’t be easy, but it will be worthwhile, and you will be proud of giving it your best shot.