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How to Love a Drug Addict

Learning how to support and love a drug addict can be integral to their recovery and help your relationship with them too.

How to Love a Drug Addict - Iris Healing®

Article Contents

Important Considerations With Loving a Drug Addict

Because so many drugs cause feelings of euphoria, it can be easy to see how drugs and feelings of love can easily become intertwined. Unfortunately, toxic relationships often form out of drug addiction, especially if both people in the relationship partake in drug use.

This is because relationships, especially romantic ones, require honesty, trust, communication, and responsibility from both sides to work. Addiction, while a disease, is inherently self-destructive, and it changes the way that a person’s brain chemistry works. This, in turn, often leads them to act and behave in ways that they didn’t before the addiction.

Understanding Addiction

It is important to remember that addiction is a mental illness, not a choice. In addition, there may be other mental health conditions that need to be addressed as well before you or your loved one can recover fully. Remember that of course it’s possible to love someone who has a substance abuse disorder and have it be a fulfilling relationship as well.

How Drug Addiction Affects Relationships

When a person loves a drug addict, it can be difficult to navigate. In many cases, the person that has a substance use disorder does not believe that they need help, or are not fully forthcoming about their usage or what they need. As a result, they may also refuse any offers of help when it comes to their recovery.

Emotions in Drug Affected Relationships

When a person has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it drastically impacts the relationships that they have with others. As a person’s addiction progresses, they will often become more secretive, mostly out of shame, fear, or guilt.

Eventually, this secrecy will lead to a lack of trust, which leads to distance and isolation in the relationship. This then causes feelings of resentment and anger on both sides.

If left unchecked, this anger can quickly turn to physical, emotional, or mental abuse, and in some cases, it can turn a well-meaning partner or family member into an unintentional enabler of the other’s addiction. This does not happen in every instance, of course.

Impact of Addiction

In extreme cases, addiction in relationships can also lead to codependency as a result of low self-esteem, misplaced feelings of guilt, martyrdom, and loyalty.1

How Addiction Can Lead to Conflict

It can be difficult to love a drug addict. Conflict can start in many different ways, including with money issues, a lack of responsibility, or secrecy about where a partner has been or is going.
These conflicts can quickly escalate as the person with the substance abuse disorder begins to shirk more responsibility in order to use more of the drug, and then often looks to their partner or family member to make excuses for them. This may be the point where the drug or alcohol abuse becomes more apparent as the addict makes less of an effort to hide it.

At this point, isolation – on both sides – begins to occur and, in some cases, the addict may escalate their arguments to domestic violence. Many people remain in these relationships because they believe that their partner can get clean on their own without intervention, or they are ashamed to go to counseling.

Seeking Professional Help

It is important to understand that for most people, recovery requires medical intervention to be successful. Additionally, the sooner that help is sought out, the more effective it will be.2

Signs Your Loved One is Using Drugs

There are several symptoms of drug or alcohol use that are easily recognizable. These symptoms can occur suddenly or start to happen over a longer period of time. The most common signs of drug abuse include:3
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Increased risk-taking behavior
  • Potential legal trouble
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of motivation
  • Impaired coordination
  • Changes in sleep patterns or insomnia
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Enlarged or shrunken pupils
  • Engaging in secretive behaviors
  • Periods of unexplained hyperactivity
  • Sudden and unexplainable weight gain or loss
  • Mood swings with angry outbursts and irritability
  • Deteriorating physical appearance and neglect of personal grooming

What to Do if You Love a Drug Addict

The main thing to avoid is helping them with their addiction. Don’t enable your partner by helping them lie about where they have been or where they’re going. You may think that you’re helping your partner, but it only hinders them in the long run.

Speak with a therapist that specializes in interventions and get their help in holding an intervention for your loved one. Interventions have a much higher chance of success when they are properly planned with the aid of a trained intervention team.4

Help them find treatment options, and help them understand what their options are such as detox, therapy, and medication. Support them in their recovery and help them find a reputable treatment center, or a support group that they can attend.

How to Communicate with Someone Who Has an Addiction

When helping a person with an addiction, it can be difficult to set boundaries, especially when you love the person. Loving or dating someone with an addiction is not easy.
Unfortunately, addiction and dishonesty frequently go hand-in-hand, often without either partner intending it. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are trying to communicate with a loved one with an addiction.

Listen More Than You Talk

Be kind, empathetic, and compassionate in your interactions. Be cautious of the words that you use when you are speaking to them as well. Do not call them names or any other hurtful words. Compassionate listening without judgment will go a long way.

Educate Yourself on Addiction

Understanding addictions and the way that they affect people is essential in helping your loved one recover. Take the time to understand how the drug that they are using is affecting their brain and their decision-making process. This is the time that you should try to involve a therapist or intervention specialist as well.

Set Boundaries

Loving an alcoholic or a person with a drug addiction is an intense and emotionally draining experience. It is important to take care of your own mental health and well-being first and foremost. It is possible to be compassionate and caring without allowing them to turn you into an enabler. Set your boundaries and stick to them.

When You Should Consider Leaving a Partner Struggling with Addiction

Sometimes, no matter how much you may love each other, addiction’s effects on a relationship simply cannot be overcome.
For some people that are struggling with addiction or living with addiction, the damage that the addict’s actions cause to their family or other loved ones can be too great to ignore. In these situations, it may be time to leave your partner to preserve your own health and well-being.5

If You Enable Them

Sometimes, when people try to help their loved ones deal with addiction, they unintentionally begin to enable it. If you find yourself lying about your partner’s location, activities, or behaviors, it may be time to revisit your boundaries and your motives.

Emotionally Unavailable Partner

When addiction is present in a relationship, it is common for partners to become distant from one another. When your partner begins to consistently put their own wants and desires, particularly those involving drugs and alcohol, above your feelings or well-being, then it may be time to evaluate if the relationship is worth staying in.

You’ve Lost Hope

At the end of the day, your partner needs to choose to help themselves because no one can make that decision for them. If your partner is refusing to get treatment and it has begun to negatively impact your own life, then it is time to leave the relationship and enforce your boundaries.

Get Help with Addiction at Iris Healing®

Love a Drug Addict

While many people want to do anything that they can to support a loved one struggling with drug addiction, it is not always possible to do alone. Luckily, there are many treatment options available for people who are struggling with addiction. Some of the help for substance abuse disorders that is available includes detox, talk therapy, CBT therapy, group therapy, and many more.

Loving someone in recovery can be just as difficult as loving an alcoholic or an active drug user. It is important to remember that just because a person has gotten help with their addiction to drugs or alcohol, it doesn’t mean that their relationship with addiction is over.
Addiction support continues through recovery, and if you choose to continue loving someone in recovery it is important to be understanding, compassionate, and supportive through their journey.

Reach Out Today

Communication in addiction recovery is essential, and if you and your partner are ready to begin their recovery journey, then reach out to Iris Healing® today to learn how we can help support you both.

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