Living with an addict can be incredibly difficult. Living with a drug addict or an alcoholic can include your spouse or partner, your child, or even your parent. So how do you cope with living with an addict? What should you do to avoid being an enabler, even when it’s someone you love?
When you’re living with an addict not only is nearly every area of your life impacted by their behavior and their addiction, but it can be easy to start to see it as personal. When they do bad things, it can start to feel like they’re doing it specifically to hurt you, and often when people are living with a drug addict or an alcoholic, they can start to spiral into a sense of depression as a result.
When you’re living with an addict, one of the best things you can do is empower yourself with information about addiction itself. The actions the addict is doing aren’t necessarily personal, but instead, they are being driven by their brain’s dependence on drugs or alcohol. When someone takes drugs or is an alcoholic, their brain is rewired to view gaining access to that substance as their number one priority.
Their brain triggers them to constantly think about getting their next fix, no matter what it takes. That’s why addicts will often lie, steal and even become violent with the people closest to them. Their sole focus is driven by their addiction, and as someone living with an addict, it’s essential that you’re able to differentiate their behavior from yourself and stop viewing it as something personally against you.
Despite the fact that It’s important not to take the behaviors surrounding the addiction as being personal, it is also important that you understand that you have to set boundaries. You need to avoid trying to reason with an addict because logical decision-making or conversations just aren’t going to happen until the person gets some kind of treatment.
If you are living with an addict, including living with a drug addict or alcoholic, you may start to feel out of control, but there are steps you can take to help you manage the situation.
- When you’re living with a drug addict or an alcoholic, the first thing to do is to restrict the amount of access they have to money. When an addict is funding their habit, they don’t think logically, and they can drain the accounts they have access to very quickly. It’s important that this is the first way you protect yourself.
- Also when living with an addict, it’s important that you face the reality of the situation you’re in. Too often people who are living with an addict will try to avoid the problems or pretend like they’re not happening. You need to see the situation for what it is and learn what you can about addiction so you can try and encourage the person toward seeking treatment. When you start facing the problem at hand, the person you’re living with may try to convince you that you’re wrong, or blame you and you can’t let yourself be drawn into that.
- Don’t think you can just ask the person to quit and it will happen. As mentioned above, logic and reasoning aren’t going to work with an addict.
- You need to stop trying to fix the addict in your life when you have recognized the problem. You don’t have control over other people, and there’s no way you can control the actions of the addict you’re living with.
- Learn the signs of enabling an addict, and then work on stopping or avoiding those behaviors. For example, if you continue to give an addict money, you are enabling them, and you have to bear the burden of being at least part of the problem. You may feel like you want to help the person you love, but really what you’re doing is just enabling them to continue their destructive behaviors.
- Be strong in the face of manipulations. Addicts are skilled at manipulation, but you have to remain firm and not let yourself fall into their manipulation.
You also need to take care of your own physical and mental well-being. You can take time for yourself to do things you enjoy, and if you’re living with a drug addict or alcoholic, you should consider joining a support group. A support group for families and loved ones of addicts can help you deal with emotional issues you’re experiencing as a result of the addiction, you’ll learn healthy ways to provide support to the addict, and you’ll learn coping strategies that will help you deal with situations that may come your way.
You’ll also gain a social support network of people with experiences similar to your own, and in a support group for loved ones of addicts you can start to learn about having an intervention and how to help the addict move in the direction of getting treatment.
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.