Loving someone caught in the clutches of addiction is profoundly challenging. Whether the person is your romantic partner, family member, or close friend, the situation can be heartbreaking for various reasons. Though you might make your best efforts to support and be there for them, where do you draw the line?
While loving a drug addict can be difficult, letting go can be even harder. If you have reached a breaking point, here’s how to know when to let go of a drug addict.
Understanding Addiction’s Toll on Relationships
While the psychology of addiction is multifaceted, the simple truth is that addicted people hurt their loved ones because the drug has taken over their lives. Drugs don’t discriminate; they overpower, compelling people to lie to, steal from, and manipulate those they cherish the most. While many addicted people seek treatment before they get to this point, others lose their relationships because they can’t stop drinking or taking drugs.
Unfortunately, loving an addict also comes with a lot of self-blame. As a parent, you might say to yourself, “My child wouldn’t be using drugs now if I had taught him better when he was younger.” As a spouse, you might think, “If I had been more supportive, maybe my partner wouldn’t feel the need to drink.”
In these moments of guilt, it’s critical to remember that addiction is a multidimensional disease resulting from various complex factors. No matter how empathetic and loving you are, your loved one may fall into this destructive cycle for many other reasons.
The Painful Realization: Drugs Over Everything
When you love someone with a substance use disorder, it’s essential to understand that the person’s drug use takes precedence over everything, even you. As painful as this realization is, you must remember that substance abuse hijacks people’s brains. They aren’t doing this to hurt you; instead, the all-consuming urge to drink or take drugs makes them overlook the consequences of their actions. Ultimately, you might reach the point where all you can do to help this person is to stop enabling them.
How do you discern that critical juncture? Here are some unmistakable signs:
- The person repeatedly refuses treatment, despite facing adverse consequences.
- Their behavior poses a threat to you or your loved ones.
- You experience financial instability resulting from supporting their habits.
- There’s been an observable decline in your or your family’s mental or physical health, manifesting as depression, anxiety, or aggressive behavior.
Letting Go With Purpose
Your loved one might believe they can keep drinking or taking drugs because you’ll always be there to provide a safety net. Sadly, some people must confront a harsh reality to change their lives for the better.
Below are some tips on how to let go of a drug addict with the goal of convincing them to get sober:
- Set boundaries and define the consequences of breaking them.
- Don’t blame yourself for their drug use.
- Refuse to pay for their rent, groceries, or other expenses.
- Stop financial, mental, or emotional support for any issues related to their addiction.
- Do not allow them to live with you.
- Take a short break from your relationship or cut off all contact and communications until they decide to get clean.
While taking these steps, remember that letting go doesn’t mean giving up. You can still be proactive, such as explaining the consequences of their behaviors and talking to them about getting drug or alcohol treatment.
While you should avoid ultimatums and threats, be clear about what you will no longer tolerate. Some people need to hear what will happen and see it in action to believe it. It’s also crucial to encourage them to find help for their disorder. Offer them your constant support if they choose to seek treatment. Be willing to drive them to therapy or 12-step meetings. If they know they don’t have to do it alone, they might be more willing to take the plunge and get help.
Detaching With Love
While loving someone with an addiction can be challenging, the silver lining is that recovery is attainable. Remember, sometimes letting go is the most potent form of love, paving the way for healing and a fresh start.
At Intervention On Call, our trained interventionists deliver real-time solutions to inspire your family member to seek treatment. Within 48 hours of your request, we’ll host the video or phone meeting at a time that works for you. Our experienced team is standing by to provide you with much-needed advice and guidance.