Whether the addict you love is addicted to alcohol, drugs, shopping, food, gambling or anything else, loving him is not easy. He may be your partner, your child, your parent or a best friend, but whatever your relationship, you love him and want him to be well. Maybe you are supporting him as he goes through recovery or you are living with and caring for him after a stint in rehab. Maybe he has yet to admit to having a problem and getting help. Whatever your situation, loving an addict is a challenge, and it is important that you consider your own well-being as well as his. Here’s how to survive this stormy relationship.
- Face reality. You are in a difficult position. No one wants to have a loved one struggling with addiction, but in order to cope with it you need to face the facts. If you are in denial, you won’t be helping him get better. You will be enabling his habit. Once you have accepted the reality of your situation, you will be able to put together a plan for dealing with it.
- Know your limits. You love this person and you want him to be well and to get better. You should help and support him to the best of your ability, but you also need to recognize that there are limits to what you can do. You are not a superhero and you cannot cure him of his addiction. You can never fix another person, so know that there are limitations. This will save your sanity, as you will inevitably experience failures throughout this experience.
- Ask for help. No one can survive alone and without support. Your addicted loved one certainly can’t. He needs guidance and support to overcome his addiction. Your role is difficult, too, and also requires support. Reach out to other people and ask for help. This could mean talking to a therapist, asking another loved one to step in and take on some of your responsibilities or just asking a friend to go out for a cup of coffee so you can talk. You can’t do this alone, so ask for help.
- Take time out for yourself. It may seem selfish, especially when your loved one so desperately needs you, but in order to survive this you need your own time. You can’t be on duty 24 hours a day, so take a break from time to time. Go out with friends. Go for a jog. Take an hour out to sit quietly and read a good book. This isn’t selfish; it is necessary for your survival.
- Find a support group. Social support is an important part of your loved one’s recovery, but you can benefit from it, too. Find a support group for loved ones of addicts and spend time with people who understand what you are dealing with. Vent your frustrations and learn from the experiences of others.
Loving and supporting someone with an addiction, whether he has been in treatment or not, is a daily struggle. You can survive this and support and love him at the same time. Your survival depends on taking care of yourself. You deserve to be well and to be happy, and you can’t care for him if you are not. Take time off, look for help from others and take care of yourself while you also help the addict you love.