It’s OK to Leave an Addict: Tips for Loving an Addicted Person and Stepping Away

Loving an addicted person isn’t easy, and sometimes the best thing you can do for your addicted loved one is leave.

Many people who love an addicted person wonder how to have a relationship with a drug addict. Loving an addicted person can be heartbreaking. It usually leads to negative emotions like fear, anger, resentment, and even guilt.

The truth is, addiction is a family disease. It affects everyone who is involved with the addicted individual. It causes family dysfunction as family members develop unhealthy coping skills to deal with often-upsetting situations and the uncertainty and chaos addiction brings to the household.

Enabling and Co-Dependence

Most of the unhealthy behaviors family members develop have to do with enabling and co-dependence.

Enabling behaviors are those that help the addicted individual continue their drug use, either directly or indirectly. Loving an addicted person can lead you to do things like:

  • Protecting your loved one from the consequences of the addiction, such as by taking on his responsibilities or hiding the situation from friends and extended family members.
  • Giving the addicted person money to buy drugs or alcohol.
  • Drinking or using drugs with the addicted person so that you can keep an eye on her.

Co-dependent behaviors occur when you end up controlled by the addicted person because you’ve learned to believe that approval, love, and acceptance are based on taking care of the addicted person in the way that he wishes. Co-dependent behaviors are characterized by:

  • Taking responsibility for the addicted person’s behaviors.
  • Letting your mood be decided by the mood of the addicted person.
  • Obsessing about your loved one’s addiction.
  • Putting the addicted person’s needs above your own.
  • Loving an addicted person but also deeply resenting him.

Both enabling and co-dependent behaviors interfere with an addicted individual’s recovery. That’s because addicted people need to experience the negative consequences of the addiction in order to come to the realization that they need help. Sometimes, loving an addicted person requires ending the relationship, at least until your addicted loved one agrees to get help.

How to Leave an Addict You Love

Often, leaving the addicted person is the best way to help her. But leaving isn’t easy, and the question becomes how to leave an addict you love. Chances are, you’re worried that the person won’t be able to function without you, and you may experience deep guilt for even thinking about leaving. But the whole point of leaving is to allow your addicted loved one to experience the natural consequences of the addiction. Only then will she realize that help is needed to overcome the addiction.

If you’re thinking about leaving your addicted loved one, let him know that in order to continue a relationship with you, things need to change. Encourage your loved one to get professional help to end the addiction. Tell him that if he doesn’t get help, you’ll have to leave. And then follow through. Chances are, if your loved one refuses treatment and you leave, he will eventually come to the realization that he needs help.

Meanwhile, engaging in therapy can help you overcome the unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns you’ve developed while living with the addiction. This will help you better support your loved one once she decides to get help.

Leaving is Best

Wondering how to have a relationship with a drug addict is counter-productive, because usually, whether directly or indirectly, the addicted person calls the shots, and you end up enabling the addiction or developing co-dependent behaviors that dramatically reduce your own quality of life and sense of wellbeing. If you feel that leaving is the best thing for your own mental health and wellbeing, then leaving is the best thing you can for you, and it’s the best thing you can do for your addicted loved one.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.

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