What Is It Like Loving an Addict?

Loving an addict, whether it’s a parent or child, or you’re in love with an addict romantically, is one of the most difficult things you will likely face in your life.

When you love a drug addict, you will often find that they seem to choose the substance over you time and time again, and it’s not just your perception. In reality, that’s more than likely what they’re doing. It’s important to understand when you’re in love with a drug addict that so much of what they’re doing is out of their control, and that during their addiction they don’t necessarily have the ability to love you in return. When someone you love is addicted to alcohol or drugs, the substance is going to be their number one priority.

Addiction is a powerful disease, and it changes the way a person thinks and feels. So often when you’re loving someone with an addiction, you may feel as if you have the ability to change them, or if you just keep working at it hard enough they’ll love you enough to quit using drugs. These aren’t things that can happen.

Instead, it’s important to understand what addiction is, and the real ways that you can help an addicted loved one.

What Happens When You’re Loving Someone with Addiction

Before thinking about how to help a loved one with drug addiction, it can be helpful to understand what it’s like loving an addict. Being in love with an addict, or having a parent or child who is an addict means that you’re often going to feel heartbroken because of their actions.

First and foremost, when you love a drug addict, they are not going to be able to love you in return. That doesn’t mean they didn’t love you before their addiction, and it doesn’t mean they can’t return to loving you, but when you’re in the midst of addiction, that’s your priority. That substance is what the person’s mind and body are in love with, above all else.

When you’re trying to love someone with an addiction, no matter what they tell you, their addiction comes first. It’s impossible for an addict to return love in the way you deserve.

It’s also important to understand that when someone you love is addicted to alcohol or drugs, they’re going to do everything in their power to use you as a way to continue getting these substances. This can include regularly lying, cheating or stealing. Because of the power of addiction, when you’re loving a drug addict you may find that they will manipulate you in any way possible to facilitate their addiction.

In many cases, you will also find that when you love a drug addict or alcoholic, they will try to get you to use with them as well, and you may end up doing it because you want to make them happy. You may also find when you’re loving a drug addict that they can seem like the life of the party or a charismatic person to be around when they’re intoxicated, but this isn’t the reality of who they are or the life they’re living.

Finally, when you’re in love with an addict, or you have someone close to you who is an addict, you will begin constantly worrying about their safety. Loved ones of addicts often find that they stay up constantly hoping the addict is okay, and praying that they are alive for another day. There’s never a time you can really breathe a sigh of relief when you’re learning how to love an addict because there’s constant fear and apprehension about what’s happening next in their life, or when they’ll have a fatal overdose.

How To Help An Addicted Loved One

It’s natural to feel out of control when you’re in love with an addict or trying to learn to love an addict in the right ways. You may be looking for ways how to help a loved one with drug addiction, and it’s difficult, to say the least. It becomes particularly difficult when you’re trying to learn how to avoid enabling an addict when you love them or are in love with them.

Enabling means that you’re supporting the addict in a way that removes the consequences of their behaviors. Just one example of loving an addict and being an enabler can include covering for them or lying to keep their addiction a secret.

When you’re learning how being in love with an addict should be handled, you want to focus on continuing to love that person, but doing so within the framework of boundaries and the elimination of enabling.

A few ways to learn how to help a loved one with drug addiction includes setting firm boundaries and sticking to them. You have to outline what will happen if the person comes home intoxicated, as an example. You have to also avoid living in the fantasy world that the addict tries to create. It’s important that you don’t gloss over the problem or minimize it. You also have to make sure that you remove your own sense of fear about creating consequences for the addict.

Finally, a big part of learning how to help an addicted loved one is having an understanding that there’s no way you can fix them. They are responsible for their actions. The best way how to learn how to help an addicted loved one is trying to encourage them to receive treatment, but you can’t threaten them or coerce them into changing their behavior otherwise.

Medical Disclaimer

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.