Living and dealing with a drug addict can be devastating. There’s no easy way to find out, no way to soften the blow. Deciding how to proceed with your friendship or relationship with someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol is tricky, and it often feels like all the pressure is on you to figure out a way to not only save your relationship but the person who is suffering. Unfortunately, this usually ends with both of you living in pain and perpetuating a never ending cycle of abusive behavior-the addict abusing himself and you.
Whether or not you share a home with the addict in your life, you are subject to the instability and unpredictable behavior that accompanies their drug addiction. Lies about their drug use and whereabouts, stealing from you to pay for their habit, abusive behavior when they’re under the influence or when they are recovering from a stint of using followed by profuse apologies and promises that everything will get better… It’s an endless cycle, and it’s one that can keep you in a whirlwind.
The only way to end this cycle is to guide your loved one to the help that they need to get better. They can’t do it alone and you can’t do it for them. You can offer choices, provide information and support, but they are responsible for doing the work.
A codependent relationship occurs when you are involved with a drug addict or alcoholic and enable their behavior. That is, you lie for them or cover for them when they lie, make mistakes or don’t show up for work due to their addiction. You make excuses for their behavior, give them money or in other ways take care of them even though they can-and should-do it for themselves but don’t because of their addiction. You believe you are helping them but ultimately you are only enabling their addiction and depleting your own resources, resources that you have no energy to renew.
Choosing to take care of yourself means forcing the addict in your life to take care of him or herself. If you don’t take care of yourself, soon there won’t be anything left for the addict, either. You need your energy, your optimism, your spirit to handle your own problems. Who’s helping you while you’re taking care of the alcoholic or addict you love?
By putting the person you love in the position of opting for help or opting out of your life, you are saving yourself and giving them the opportunity to save themselves. Remember: you can’t save your loved one from addiction. You can only encourage them, guide them, support them, and show them a way out of addiction; The responsibility for the recovery is all theirs. They make their own choices and you are responsible for making yours.