10 Tips to Loving Someone Suffering From Addiction
When we love someone who is suffering from an addiction, we can feel helpless, scared, and a whole myriad of emotions because we want them to get support. When it comes to relationships, everybody’s situation is unique, and when somebody you love displays the symptoms of addiction, your relationship is going to be affected by this in a number of ways. What do we need to think about when we are in love with someone suffering from an addiction?
When we love someone who is suffering from an addiction, we can be in denial of so many aspects of the situation, including their behavior. The concept of “radical acceptance” can be a very useful practice here. Defined as the ability to accept situations outside of your control without judging them which reduces the suffering caused by them in the context of an individual suffering from addiction means accepting that the person you are in love with is going through a roller coaster of emotions due to their addiction, but you may also have to come to terms with parts of your life will be affected as a result. You could be worried about them every single day, or they may be by attempting to get you involved in their addiction in some way, but whatever your situation is, accepting what you are dealing with is a crucial step.
When we love someone who suffers from addiction, we’ve got to remember that looking after ourselves is just as important. We have to learn to keep healthy in terms of our mental health, for example, by setting and maintaining relevant boundaries to ensure that we do not enable their addictive behavior. You should also ensure you maintain good nutrition and fitness, while also focusing on a good balance in your life. You can be in love with someone who is suffering from addiction, but you can choose to do it in a healthy way.
Be Willing To Look at Yourself
When we love someone suffering from an addiction, it can be so easy to blame everything on them. But we have to remember we cannot change people- the only people we can change is ourselves, which is why in this situation we have to be willing to look in the mirror to see how we have played a part in their addiction. For example, we could have participated in enabling behaviors by lending money or cleaning up their mess (physically and metaphorically). All these actions do not help in the long run, which is why it’s important for you to understand your unhelpful behaviors and get support for yourself as well.
Accept That You Cannot ‘Fix’ Someone
We only have control over ourselves, and we need to come to the conclusion that we’re not able to help others. Trying to fix another person is impossible, so we need to stop trying. In this situation, the best thing you can do is focus on fixing yourself by grasping the reality of the situation.
Learn the Difference Between ‘Helping’ and ‘Enabling’
Enabling behaviors sometimes get confused with empowering ones. People believe that they’re trying to help the situation when they are in love with someone suffering an addiction by cleaning up after them, paying their bills, and trying to keep the peace, but the reality is that these are classed as enabling behaviors because they are trying to fix the issue in indirect ways. Helping someone involves giving them the tools to solve their problems. When you are enabling someone, you may believe you are trying to “rescue them from themselves,” but this is something that we cannot do.
Understand That Self-Care Isn’t Selfish
In a relationship where we feel we’ve got to dedicate ourselves to the other person because they need more help, we can run the risk of letting our own needs fall by the wayside. In a situation like an addiction, many people believe that practicing self-care and putting themselves first is classed as being “selfish.” But being selfish means you are willing to step over anybody to get what you want. When you are trying to take care of somebody else, this can result in you becoming more exhausted, which is why self-care means determining what your needs are and respecting yourself enough to look after yourself. Self-care means making sure that your needs are met, whether this means looking after your mental health, maintaining your physical health, or ensuring that you can build up your resources to care for the person you love, self-care is so important in any relationship.
Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
When we are in a relationship, we can use many excuses to avoid addressing the real deep-seated issues. When we love someone who is suffering from an addiction, we may believe that we are doing everything we can for the person, but the reality is that we may be just as addicted to our enabling behaviors as the person in our life suffering from the addiction in question. Stepping outside your comfort zone means asking yourself how your life would be different if you were not engaging in behaviors that enabled the person you care about. This is a massive question and could bring up many issues you haven’t dealt with. It may be scary to think about removing any behaviors that are classed as part of your “comfort zone,” but it could be worse if you continue to enable the person that you love.
Learn How To Recognize Manipulation
Those that are suffering from addiction can be adept at manipulation, even with the people they care about the most. For many people, the fear of stopping is so much that they will do anything to keep their addiction going, including manipulative behavior such as blaming, lying, cheating, and making others feel guilty. Recognizing signs of manipulation such as these can help you to become more aware of if they are making unreasonable demands of you, putting a strain on the relationship and your sense of self in the process. It is important to learn how to say “no” and also respect yourself. The more we allow ourselves to become manipulated by the person suffering from addiction, the more manipulative they are more likely to become. It’s important that we learn to recognize manipulation but also refuse to give in to their demands.
Rebuild Your Own Life
If you find yourself enabling the person you love and are in denial of the situation, you need to focus on rebuilding your life. Caring for someone suffering from addiction can take its toll on many areas of your life, such as your ability to look after yourself, your relationships, and your career. You can remove yourself from any enabling behaviors or mental concerns by focusing on the things that fulfill you, which could involve changing careers, getting different hobbies, or rebuilding your life in other ways so you can feel like you are not just focused on the person you love but are benefiting in spite of the situation. When we give up so much of ourselves to care for someone suffering from addiction, we may feel that we are doing a great service to them, but this can be to the detriment of our sense of self in the process. Rebuilding your life around the situation is about you feeling a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness in your life.
Don’t Wait Until the Situation Is Extremely Bad
In relationships, we can feel that we’ve got to give up a lot of ourselves to save the situation. This could mean cutting people out of our lives who do not approve, denying certain behaviors, but also avoiding the inevitable step of reaching out for help. When someone we care about is suffering from addiction, we may believe that they will reach out for help eventually and we just have to wait. But we have to remember that there is only so much we can take. Loving someone with an addiction means that we’ve got to look after them in the right ways, which could mean “tough love,” but it could also mean we are too scared to approach the issue that needs to come; the person you love asking for help. When you want someone you love to reach out for help it is not just about you waiting for them to see if they can help; sometimes we need to intervene.
The fact is that there are a number of ways that we can help someone, and waiting for someone to reach rock bottom so they can build themselves back up can be incredibly detrimental to a relationship. Here at Peaks Recovery, we understand that addiction is something that can have a major impact on relationships. For the sake of the person in question, you, and the relationship, it’s so important to reach out for help right now.