How to Cope with Loving an Addict

Loving an addict can be one of the hardest and most trying experiences. Addiction, whether it be to alcohol or drugs, can have long-lasting and negative effects on those closest to the addict. Below are some strategies for those who love an addict can employ to cope with their loved ones’ addiction, while at the same time guide them towards a path of treatment and recovery.

For the person who loves someone addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can be heart-breaking to watch the cycle of addiction spiral out of control. Oftentimes, it feels like your relationship is secondary to their addiction. It can leave you feeling powerless before the strength of their addiction and helpless to steer them towards recovery.

The downward spiral of addiction results in the destruction of their life including relationships with those around them, loss of a job, and withdrawal from society. Their actions hurt not only themselves but can also hurt you. While things can seem hopeless at times, there are steps you can take to help both you and the person you love.


Acknowledge the Addiction

The first and most important step you can take is to recognize and acknowledge their addiction. Whether addicted to alcohol or drugs, identifying and acknowledging their addiction is the first step towards freeing yourself and your loved one from the cycle of addiction.

While some cases of addiction have clear and present signs, others are less apparent, particularly to those closest to the addict. Look for ways in which the addiction has had a negative impact on their lives and the lives of others including with yourself, others they are close to, their job, and changes to their health and finances.   Sometimes looking at the effects of the addiction can help you better understand the severity level of the addiction.

Acknowledging that your loved one may possibly be suffering from an addiction problem can be difficult. The person may not have been an addict when you first met and may have only drank or used drugs occasionally or socially. However, over time your loved one began to rely more on drugs or alcohol to treat the demands or pain they are faced with. An important first step is for you to recognize that there is a concern and consult with a professional to better understand the next step to get the help they need.


Set Boundaries in Your Relationship with the Addict

Once you have identified and acknowledged their addiction, it is important to set clear and firm boundaries for yourself and for them. You must identify the ways that you may have been enabling their addiction in the past, and create boundaries to prevent these behaviors in the future. For those closest to an addict, it can be difficult to identify the ways they are enabling their loved one’s addiction because it can take on many forms.

Developing an understanding of addiction and its effects can help you to see how your actions may be enabling them to continue with their addictive behaviors. Setting proper boundaries in a relationship with an addict is crucial in order to show them exactly how their addiction is affecting the lives of those they love. It is important to commit to your set boundaries and communicate with the person you love why you are needing to change your own behavior.


Love Yourself

With proper boundaries in place, those who are in love with an addict can move towards loving themselves again. Often the destructive cycle of addiction and substance abuse will take an emotional and physical toll on those closest to the addict. In order to help the person you love, you need to take care of yourself first. This can be particularly difficult for parents, family members, or spouses/partners of addicts.

Loving yourself first is not an act of selfishness or callousness. Rather, loving yourself first allows you to create a healthy space from which you can help the addict in your life. It allows you to be in a better mindset supported by strength and clarity to better help the person you love. Taking a step back from an addicted loved one and helping yourself first is perhaps the most difficult step most people face. However, it is necessary in order to truly help the addict in your life through their process of recovery.


Build a Support System

As part of loving yourself, reach out to those around you for support. Begin to build a network of those you love and who love the addict in your life. Other members of your family, loved ones, friends, and others close to you can help lend strength and knowledge to helping the person you love. Speak with the members of your support system about how the addiction has affected all of you, and take the time to document this information.

Your support system is there for both you and the addict in your life. Even if you are the primary point of contact with the addict in your life, your support system will provide you with a point of stability you can rely on. A strong support network can also help demonstrate to the addict that there are people around them that care about them and want to see their life change for the better.


Determine a Treatment Plan

Loved ones can learn how to be in a relationship with an addict by acknowledging the persons addiction, setting boundaries, empowering yourself, and building your network of support. A strong support network should always include a qualified medical professional who will assist the patient and family through the recovery process.

The professional is instrumental in developing the individual’s treatment plan which will greatly increase their chances of a success. A comprehensive treatment plan should include spiritual, physical, and emotional components. In addition, the medical professional will provide guidance to loved ones by providing support and directing them to the resources needed to help the patient along with their journey.


If you are in need of a medical professional or treatment advice, call Casa Palmera at 888-481-4481 any time of the day.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.