“Let’s face it – life with an addict is hard. No matter what the outward addiction is, the underlying dynamic of an addict’s life is one of CHAOS.”
~Candace Plattor, M.A., Loving an Addict, Loving Yourself: the Top 10 Survival Tips for Loving Someone with an Addiction
No matter where you live – Kentucky, Connecticut, or Colorado – addiction is a disease that takes a tremendous emotional, mental, physical, and financial toll on not only the substance abuser, but those people who are closest to them.
An active addict will experience their own personal cycles of emotional ups and downs, from false confidence and “pie-in-the-sky” dreams to remorse, despondency, self-loathing, and every other imaginable emotion in between.
And, if you’re in a romantic relationship with an addict, you are taken along for the ride.
Up—There Is Always a “Honeymoon Phase” When You Love an Addict
For all their other dysfunctional behaviors and addiction-driven actions, many substance abusers are amazingly charming. At the beginning, they are so full of fun and joie de vivre that they seem like nothing more than a person who likes to party and have a good time.
Down—The Honeymoon Always Comes to an End as the Addiction Gains Control
When the alcohol or drug becomes absolutely necessary for a person to enjoy themselves, that is a definite sign of a problem. All of an addict’s thoughts, time, energy, and money goes to the next drink, the next bag, the next shot, or the next pill. Courtesy, consideration, and any sense of responsibility all go out the window in that pursuit. And if ANYONE tries to stand in the addict’s way, they risk the addict’s anger and abuse.
Up—There are Always Apologies and Attempts to “Make up” When You Love an Addict
Even though an addict is not always in control of his or her actions, they are almost always aware of the consequences of their actions, at least on some level. To try and smooth things over, the addict will say everything you want to hear. There is a predictable pattern of post-binge behavior:
- Profuse apologies
- Blaming it on the drug or drink… “I was drunk, I didn’t know what I was saying…”
- Swearing that it’ll never happen again
- Playing on your sympathies… “You know I love you and need you…”
- Excessive affection and attention
- Showering you with gifts – flowers, jewelry, a romantic dinner, etc.
Down—All of the Apologies and Promises are Disregarded When They Can’t Resist the Cravings
Addiction is a disease that is characterized by:
- Denial – “My problem is not that bad…”
- Deflection – Blaming, focusing on other issues, looking for sympathy, etc.
- Deception –Blatant lies about their actions and whereabouts
- Disregard– Of any promises that interfere with their drinking and using
- Dysfunction– Actions– on either of your parts – that are hurtful, unproductive, self-serving, or that allow the addiction to continue to progress.
Here’s the thing – the addict was probably entirely sincere when they promised to stop, but addiction “hijacks” their brain, to the point where they are compelled to do or say anything that allows them to get their next fix – including lying to or hurting their loved ones.
Up—When You Love an Addict, You Get to Be the “Good One”
Everyone in a romantic relationship wants to prove their love and be there for their partner, and that is definitely possible when you love an addict. In fact, you’ll soon find yourself in a “caretaker” role, where you help protect the addict from the natural consequences of their actions. You will:
- Cover for them when they are still too high or hung over to go to work.
- Make excuses for them when they miss a family obligation.
- Pick up the financial slack when all of their money is gone.
- Bail them out of jail.
- Try to hide their drinking or drug usage from others.
- Physically clean up after them.
- Take their verbal – or even physical – abuse because they are “sick”.
Down—An Addict Who Never Has To Face Any Consequences Will NEVER Have Any Reason to Change
Unfortunately, when you “protect” the addict in this way, you are “enabling” the addiction and allowing it to worsen. Rather than helping your loved one, what ends up happening is:
- The addict can drink or use as much as they want, because you will always be there to “save” them.
- You end up neglecting yourself, your own obligations, and the rest of your family because you are constantly focusing upon the addict.
- What started out as loving – albeit misguided – actions on your part creates resentment against the addict, because you are giving more and more while receiving less and less.
- In your own way, you become just as sick and as affected by the addiction as your loved one.
In the end, there are only two things that are going to have any kind of positive affect on your situation.
FIRST, your loved one has to stop abusing alcohol and/or drugs of every type. This can almost definitely not be done without professional help.
SECOND, you have to stop putting the needs of your addicted loved one before your own. You have to start focusing on yourself and your own well-being. You also would benefit from talking to a professional counselor that specializes in codependency issues. Most importantly, you have to do this whether your loved one gets clean and sober or not.
If you live in Colorado and you want to get help for both yourself and your addicted loved one, contact AspenRidge Recovery today. Located conveniently in Southwest Denver, AspenRidge Recovery combines the latest therapeutic methods with established 12-step principles to provide suffering addicts, alcoholics, and their families with a roadmap for their journey back to sobriety, sanity, and serenity.
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