Loving an addict is one of the most difficult things that can happen to most people. Whether you’re in a romantic relationship with an addict, or it’s your child, parent or someone else you’re close to, it’s incredibly difficult to continue loving someone with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. While you may make your best effort to help them, at some point, you might also have to understand how to let go of an addict you love.
The experience of loving an addict can be slightly different for everyone, but there are some general commonalities that most people say they experience.
First, when you love an addict, you have to understand that their addiction takes precedence over everything else, including you. People can start to take it personally, and it understandably hurts them deeply to feel as if the addict they love only cares about the drugs or alcohol, but the addict’s brain is driving them toward placing the substance at the top of their priority list.
No matter what an addict says or promises, they are only driven by their desire to continue using, and there’s not much of anything you can do to change that.
Also when you love an addict, they are going to lie, cheat and steal to get what they want, which is more drugs or alcohol. They can be charming and manipulative when it serves their purposes, and as the loved one of an addict, it’s essential that you understand that it is nothing more than just that: manipulation.
When you love an addict, you may constantly feel that you’re on edge, or worried when that dreaded phone call is going to come.
So what can you do when you love an addict?
There’s very little you can do, and you certainly can’t fix the person. Addiction is a complex disease, and there’s no amount of threatening or begging that’s going to eliminate the problem. Instead, one of the best things you can do when you love an addict is making sure you’re not enabling them.
Enabling an addict refers to behaviors or scenarios where you’re removing consequences from the behaviors of the addict. It can be as simple as lying for the person or covering for them.
Once you’ve identified how you are enabling the addict, you can start setting boundaries and outline consequences. Then, one of the only real actions you can take to help an addict is to stage an intervention and arrange for them to go to treatment.
What happens if that doesn’t work though? When is it time to give up, and how can you let go of an addict you love?
You may come to a point in your life where you have to let go of an addict you love. This is often after they’ve refused treatment, or continued to use drugs despite your attempts to create boundaries and consequences.
Unfortunately, learning how to let go of an addict you love is much easier said than done.
There are some steps you can take once you have decided the time has come to let go of an addict you love.
First, you will need to separate yourself, both physically and emotionally. During this time, it’s important that you find a strong support system because you will need it. Often loved ones of an addict will participate in a group of other people whose loved ones are an addict. When you do that it can help you move forward in a positive, productive way, and also understand that you’re not alone. During this time you will also need to create a list of things that you know you will have to change as part of your goal of letting go of an addict you love.
If you slip up on some of the commitments you make to yourself during this time, it’s okay, and you can continue moving forward without being too hard on yourself. What’s most important as you learn how to let go of an addict you love is simply to do your best.
You should also try to find things that you enjoy doing for yourself, and you should work on creating the life that you want without the inclusion of the addict.
Finally, when you’re exploring how to let go of an addict you love, as hard as it may be you have to let go of fear. Loving an addict often means that you’re plagued with constant fear, and that can lead you to feel depressed or hopeless. You have to try and work on letting go of those feelings and taking care of yourself while moving forward.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.