When You Love an Addict
A 2017 survey from Pew Research Center shows that 46% of Americans have a family member or close friend who has been addicted to drugs.
No matter who you are, there’s a good chance that you have a loved one struggling with addiction. Loving an addict can lead to challenging situations that test the limits of your relationship. Many people find that they can use the following advice to respect themselves and your loved one without contributing to addiction struggles.
Learn About the Struggles of Addiction Recovery
People recovering from addiction face a lot of struggles that you might not know about. The more you know, the easier it gets for you to understand your loved one’s behaviors.
Some of the most common things that addicts struggle with during recovery include:
- Boredom and loneliness
- Negative feelings such as irritability, aggression, and sadness
- Inferiority and embarrassment
You can’t change the way that an addict feels, but you can sympathize with your loved one’s feelings as he or she recovers. Make sure the person you love knows that you’re there when you need them.
Know the Common Signs of Substance Abuse
It’s difficult to know how many recovering addicts relapse. Unfortunately, most reports show that a considerable percentage of addicts relapse at least once.
Relapsing doesn’t mean that your loved one will make substance use a daily part of his or her life. It simply means that your loved one, for whatever reason, used a substance at least once. The sooner the person gets help, the more likely it is that he or she can enter recovery, again. That means your loved one gets another chance at long-term sobriety.
As someone who loves an addict, you should know the signs of relapsing. Some common signs include:
- Avoiding contact with you and other loved ones
- Erratic behavior
- Poor hygiene
- Physical signs like the smell of alcohol or needle marks
- Spending time with friends who aren’t sober
- Skipping recovery meetings
If you notice any of these signs, you should approach your loved one to talk about his or her sobriety. Don’t judge the person, but express your concerns. Remember that addicts are struggling to overcome a complicated disease.
Set Boundaries for Your Relationship
While you shouldn’t judge an addict, you need to set clear boundaries for your relationship. Without boundaries, you run the risk of developing codependency and contributing to your loved one’s struggle.
Codependency is a common problem for addicts and their loved ones. You want to help your friend or family member so much that you can contribute to the problem.
Try setting boundaries like:
- Not spending time with the person while he or she is using
- Forbidding drugs or alcohol in your home
- Rejecting requests for money
- Refusing to accept manipulative insults or ridicule
- Always telling the truth, even when the person wants you to lie
Attend Therapy Sessions With Your Loved One
Learning how to maintain a positive relationship with someone recovering from substance abuse can take a lot of effort. Many people find it helpful to attend therapy sessions with their loved ones.
For example, Spring Hill Recovery Center offers family therapy that makes close friends and family members a part of the recovery process. Guests at Spring Hill can also invite their loved ones to family education events. The events include group discussions, family therapy, and educational panels from addiction specialists.
You don’t want to abandon your loved one, but you do need to change your relationship and expectations in ways that encourage sobriety and healthy communication. Therapy can teach you strategies that will help you reach those goals.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.