We can’t choose who we fall in love with. It’s not uncommon to find someone struggling with the predicament of, “I’m in love with a drug addict; what can I do?” Living with an active drug addict is very stressful, not to mention, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions that can leave anyone burned out. Addiction is such a powerful force that sometimes those in love with a drug addict can fall down the same path without noticing it.
The Dangers of Loving an Addict
Addiction is a disease that affects people very differently. If you’re romantically involved with an addict, you must assess addiction’s intensity and how it affects your loved one. Remember, emotional and physical abuse is common in households where one member struggles with substance abuse problems.
But, if your loved one isn’t aggressive or abusive, it’s common for people to stay with them and try to help them. If you’re in love with an addict and pondering how to handle it, there are some essential things you should know.
When you’re in a relationship with a drug addict, you’re essentially in a fight against addiction and substances. Alcohol or drugs provide a much larger rush than any other activity (even making love). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, certain drugs generate a dopamine rush ten times larger than other non-drug activities. Not to mention addictive behaviors lead to lying, cheating, and other relationship troubles that can wreak havoc.
Of course, this doesn’t mean drug addicts are incapable of love. Love is one of the critical elements in helping someone quit drugs. Ideally, showing compassion for the addict you love will help them to understand the effects of their addiction.
Becoming an Addict Yourself
Here’s where things get complicated. Being in love with a drug addict also places you at a higher risk of becoming an addict yourself. Loving a drug addict can be consuming as you try to “fix them” in any way possible. More than falling addicted to the drugs or substances they abuse, people fall addicted to trying to fix them and help them, losing sight of their health and mental wellness.
Avoiding the Enabler Role
Everyone who is in a relationship with an active addict is an enabler. Whether they accept it or not, continuing to provide for their loved one continues their addiction. You become an enabler when you pay for rent, food, medical bills, and more. In other cases, the enabler might give the addict a place to live despite the addict’s lack of interest in getting sober. It looks different in every situation.
Do you continue to bail your spouse out of jail when they get in trouble? Do you clean up after they make a mess at home? These are some of the examples of enabling addiction that fuel the problem.
If you’re in a relationship with a drug addict, and you become an enabler, you might be struggling with codependency issues. The codependent person cares more about how their partner feels than how they handle themselves. Most of the time, they’ll do anything to ensure their partner is happy and cared for.
As you might imagine, addicts and codependents often gravitate toward one another as romantic partners. The codependent person benefits from feeling like they’re helping the addict while the addict benefits from their partner’s enablement.
Often enablers don’t realize the harm they’re causing. While they want to help their loved one in their mind, they’re preventing them from getting better. Codependency and enabling becomes a vicious cycle that never ends. While it may seem inconsequential to do these things, they promote drug use. If you provide a safety net for the addict you love, they’re not going to stop using.
How to Help Them
If you’re reading this thinking, “I love an addict, but I don’t know what to do…” it might be time to seek professional help. Letting a drug addict go can be quite challenging; working with a therapist can help you find the best way to help them. Maybe you have to let them hit rock bottom; perhaps you have to leave to get better. Whatever the case, having the support of a counselor can make it easier for you.
Help Yourself First
Before you do anything, you have to help yourself first. Whether you realize it or not, being in a relationship with an addict takes a toll on your mental health and wellbeing. Talking to a counselor can help you focus on your wellness first so you can help your loved one. It takes self-love and compassion to help someone struggling with addiction.
Another key portion of seeking help for yourself is to learn as much as possible about addiction. Educate yourself about the dangers of addiction, preventing relapse, and everything you can learn about helping someone with an addiction.
Consider an Intervention
At some point, it might cross your mind that you want to leave the relationship. It might be a good idea to stage an intervention. Consider this your last chance to salvage the relationship and let the addict prove they’re ready to change.
Reach out to other members of the family members and friends. It’s essential to seek professional help who can provide guidance and support to maintain the conversation positive. We recommend you read our guide to stage an intervention to help you get started.
Should You Leave?
If you’re reading this thinking, “I’m in love with a drug addict, should I leave?” Sadly, many occasions can cause you to leave your addicted partner. No matter how much you love them, the emotional burden of caring for an addict can become unbearable. Sometimes, to protect yourself, you may have to serve ties.
Remember, you’re not failing because you decide to cut the addict out of your life. Even if you love them unconditionally, you can’t let yourself lose your life because of them. To care for them, you need to care for yourself first. You must recognize how setting boundaries between you and the addicted person can be necessary.
Here are some signs that you might need to leave your relationship with an addict:
- The relationship has become physically or emotionally abusive.
- Children are now affected by addiction.
- The addicted partner won’t change despite the negative consequences.
- They’re holding you back personally and professionally.
When you’re in love with an addict, you must reach out for support. Al-Anon meetings are one place where you can get the help you need. Surviving a relationship with an addict requires support. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we offer couples and family therapy in our comprehensive addiction treatment programs to ensure everyone affected by addiction gets help.
If your loved one is ready to seek drug and alcohol abuse treatment, contact us today. Our addiction therapists will help them find the absolute best treatment plan for them, personalized to meet their challenges and needs. Addiction recovery is possible, and with your love and support, your loved one is one step closer to long-term recovery.