How Loving an Addict Affects Your Life
When You’ve Caught Feelings, But He is Caught Up in the Cycle of Drug Abuse
The world of dating is often a confusing, heartbreaking, and frustrating landscape. In a swipe left or right culture, it can feel like a fairy tale when you find someone that you have a real connection with. You want to hold onto that person and live out your happily ever after. But what if your knight in shining armor is battling a dragon of his own? — The monster of drug addiction.
This was probably not a part of your dream for falling in love. Your mind is likely spinning with a million questions upon finding out this information. What does this mean for your relationship? Should you stay or go? How can you help him? Can love alone conquer this beast?
Though no one else but you can make these decisions, there are ways to become more informed about addiction and how it may impact your relationship.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic disease that, however unfortunate, is often characterized by relapse. In order to continue your relationship, there likely needs to be a focus on recovery in addition to the normal maintenance a partnership requires.
This can be a challenge to balance your own needs while the aftershock of your partner’s addiction could be taking a toll on you. You see the potential for a future and want to help, but you may not be sure how.
Road to Sobriety
Your role can be one of love and support by encouraging them to prioritize their recovery and even valuing it above the relationship. You could begin by starting the conversation about going to treatment.
It is important to remember that you and your partner are not alone. According to a 2017 report, about 19.7 million Americans were struggling with a substance use disorder that year. It is normal and suggested to seek outside help and your partner’s willingness could be a good indicator for their motivation to change.
Learning Triggers and Relapse Prevention
Although relapse is a definite concern, it is not inevitable. To avoid relapse, your partner needs to develop a strong game plan and make daily actions towards recovery. When there is a plan both of you can feel more confident about how to act.
You will need to have ongoing communication about their triggers, which are potential temptations for use. Not addressing triggers can make even the most motivated person fall back. This may mean sacrifices in your own life, like not having alcohol in the house or modifying where you go on dates or even which friends come around.
Recovery is an Ongoing Process
There is no end date where a person can say “I don’t have to think about my addiction anymore”. What recovery looks like will most likely shift and change through time, but it will never be out of sight.
To commit to someone who is or who has struggled with addiction is also committing to being invested in recovery. This could take up your partner’s time by going to support groups or the potential for more treatment in the future. It could also involve feeling fearful of relapse when life circumstances become more challenging. To commit to this person means committing to being an active participant in communicating about maintaining sobriety.
Prioritize Your Own Needs
- It is not your responsibility to save anyone.
Sometimes, despite our best intentions, helping someone can become hurtful. If you notice that you are in a cycle of enabling behavior, this is a red flag.
Enabling is protecting a person from the natural consequences of addiction such as paying their rent or making excuses for them. You cannot force someone into recovery and it is not helpful to want their sobriety more than they do. This type of support is not going to get the results you want and will leave you feeling drained.
- Set personal boundaries.
Take time to consider your limits and make that clear for yourself and your partner. This will help protect you from being in situations you do not want to be in. If a boundary has been pushed, there will need to be a consequence for that as well. This can look like not allowing them in your house if they have been using.
- Seek your own support.
To help you make the actions that are best for you, you may want to consider your own personal counseling. This is a stressful time and you could benefit from having space to air out your own concerns. There are also resources like Al-Anon, so you can connect with other people who love someone in addiction. Going to support like this can help you identify what is actually in your control and make decisions healthy for you.
- Continue self-care.
It can be very easy to get swept up in caring for your partner, but throughout this your self-care is key. This can look like basic things like making sure that you are eating and sleeping well and also engaging in the hobbies you enjoy. Relieving stress and being involved in your interests can help you feel more in tune with yourself to make needed decisions.
- Take time to consider your feelings.
Have you felt emotionally in this relationship? Addiction can put a large strain on a romantic partner and could lead to arguments due to the increased stress. You may need to ask the question of if you are feeling satisfied in the relationship as it currently is or if there is the hope of it getting better. Do you really want to stay or is it too hard to leave? Your feelings and mental wellness is just as important as your partner’s in recovery.
Thriving Relationships in Recovery
Every relationship will have its ups and downs and dating an addict can feel like a rollercoaster. A healthy relationship is possible, but that’s only if this person is willing to pursue their lifelong recovery. People in recovery can have incredible insight and awareness due to the self-work they have pursued.
Love alone cannot slay the dragon of addiction, but knowledge of triggers and coping skills, being active in the recovery community, and a willingness to accept help are positive places to start. No matter what you decide to do in your relationship, make sure you are listening to your own needs.
If you or someone you know is needing help addressing their addiction, Launch Centers is here to help with many treatment options. Contact us today for more information and support.