25 Aug The Difficulties of Loving an Addict
Having a relationship with an addict isn’t an easy thing. People who struggle with substance abuse often also have mental health issues as well. They may also have various physical problems stemming from their substance abuse. Anyone who has a relationship with an addict, whether a spouse, friend, parent, or sibling, is likely to be inadvertently harmed by that person’s substance abuse.
At the same time, it’s important to know how you can help an addict get addiction treatment and take care of yourself too.
What Are the Symptoms of an Addict or Alcoholic?
There are a number of symptoms that addicts experience when they abuse drugs or alcohol. Some symptoms are fairly personal and only apparent to the addict experiencing them. However, there are various behavior changes that can indicate to others that a person has become an addict. Some of these symptoms include the following:
• Obvious intoxication on a regular basis
• Problems with memory and understanding things
• Sleep problems like insomnia, or sleeping too long, or having the appearance of lethargy or tiredness
• Work or school problems, including losing a job or dropping out
• Only attending social events to get intoxicated or avoiding social events to spend more time using drugs or alcohol
• Stealing or having financial problems due to drug-seeking behaviors
• Lying about substance abuse
• Having an aggressive response to anyone confronting them about being an addict
• Withdrawal symptoms when they are denied their substance of choice
• Lack of hygiene or poor appearance
The other thing you may notice about an addict is that their behavior tends to change when they are sober versus when they are intoxicated. When they’re intoxicated, an addict is more likely to say hurtful things and engage in risky behaviors. If you are in a relationship with an addict, these behaviors are likely to cause a lot of intense stress and worry.
How To Influence an Addict
If you’re in a relationship with an addict, you will probably try to steer them towards recovery at some point. Even if it works initially, they may still end up in relapse. Substance abuse is not something that an addict can truly control. It’s very difficult for an addict or alcoholic to stop using drugs or alcohol. The brain’s risk/reward center becomes rewired as the addiction progresses. The addict is unable to resist cravings and often uses more and more of the drug in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms as well.
When you’re in a relationship with an addict, it’s important not to blame them for giving in, but also not to protect the addict from the consequences of their behavior. At some point, if the addict fails to seek treatment, you may want to consider arranging an intervention. An intervention should include only the addict’s closest friends and family. It’s important that the intervention is supportive and loving towards the addict and not blaming or accusatory. This is your chance to offer the addict social support and information about treatment. A well-planned intervention is more often successful than not.
Codependency With an Addict
If you’re in a relationship with an addict, you might also be in a codependent relationship. Codependency can be described as enabling when it comes to an addict or alcoholic. You may want to help the person and show them love, but it often takes the form of enabling the addiction. How do you know if your relationship with an addict is codependent? Ask yourself the following five questions.
1. Do you find yourself being responsible for the addict’s problems? This can take the form of helping them out with work or school when they’re hungover or giving them money when you know they’re just using it on drugs or alcohol.
2. Do you put the addict’s feelings first before your own? This can result in your own needs not being met, which may also result in feelings of resentment and bitterness in the future.
3. Are you holding onto your relationship with an addict to avoid being alone? It’s common for people in codependent relationships to have a strong fear of being abandoned or rejected.
4. Do you have trouble talking about or recognizing your own feelings? You might be so focused on trying to help the addict in your life that you don’t realize that you may also need help.
5. Do you have a hard time setting personal boundaries with the addict? In a codependent relationship, you might have trouble saying no to the other person. You might believe that by helping the addict, you are helping yourself. However, in reality, the opposite is true.
It’s possible that your relationship began in a normal way, i.e. not codependent. However, when one person becomes an addict, the relationship can quickly turn codependent. This type of relationship can happen between spouses, between parents and children, and between intimate partners among other types of relationships.
How To Help a Loved One Who is an Addict or Alcoholic
Getting treatment is the first step towards recovery for an addict. How do you help a loved one who is also an addict? The first thing to remember is that addiction is a brain disease, which means it’s not a choice or moral weakness. Other than the initial choice to use, the ensuing addiction is something that can’t usually be controlled. A common way to encourage an addict to get help is through an intervention. As previously mentioned, an intervention can be very successful in urging an addict to get help as long as it is well-planned and focuses on support.
If the addict in your life refuses to get help, it’s also very important to set boundaries and let them know that you can’t continue having a relationship with them if they won’t seek help. Sometimes an alcoholic or addict will have another mental issue such as depression or anxiety. This can be a way to get an addict to seek help if they will consider seeing a therapist for the mental health issue.
Al-Anon is another option if you need to understand problematic drinking in your family or friends. Al-Anon can help you cope with a problem drinker and also give you ideas on how to help them seek help. At Al-Anon meetings, you get the chance to hear from others who have gone through the same experiences.
Choose the Path to Recovery with New Method Wellness
At New Method Wellness, we offer accredited inpatient and outpatient treatment for those struggling with substance abuse. Some of our services include the following:
If your loved one is an addict, then getting them to seek help is an important step towards recovery. Contact New Method Wellness today for more information by calling 866.951.1824 or contacting us through the website.