Living With A Drug Addict: How To Deal With It Soberly
Drug addiction can affect entire families. The instability, dishonesty, denial, and manipulation that accompany drug abuse are potent enough to drive even the sanest individual to the edge. When your partner or someone you live with is abusing drugs, it can quickly cultivate codependent behaviors and even a result in abuse of drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate.
Prior to someone getting treatment for addiction, a drug addicted person may behave irrationally. Even the most honest person can resort to lying and manipulation to hide the drug use, or to acquire more drugs. Someone living with a drug-addicted person faces two new realities. One involves leaving the situation and the other means staying and coping with the addiction.
Useful Strategies For Maintaining Sanity While Living With A Drug Addicted Person:
- Recognize that Drug Addiction is an Illness
- Set Clear Boundaries and Follow Through on Consequences
- Stay Safe, Be Prepared
- Stay Physically Fit, Reduce Stress
- Seek Support and Consider Counseling
- Group Support
- Educate Yourself on the Type of Addiction
- Help the Person; Don’t Enable Behaviors
- Consider an Intervention
Treat Drug Addiction As An Illness
A person who has become addicted to drugs or alcohol is no longer in control of their lives. Addiction is a disease because no healthy or sane person would choose the life that results from it. While these behaviors are challenging to deal with, it is important not to punish or blame the addicted person.
An awareness a person living with a drug-addicted person must come to is the understanding that the person they once knew is changed through use of drugs. Drugs don’t simply affect the mind temporarily, they can cause damage and alter a personality significantly while the person is using. The first step in living with an addict is understanding the person is not the addiction; they are sick and require professional treatment.
You can help preserve your sanity by looking at the addiction as an illness, maintaining some distinction between the individual you know and appreciate, and the signs and symptoms of the addiction.
Set Boundaries And Consequences With The Addicted Individual
When living with a drug-addicted individual, set and maintain clear boundaries. This will require a level of assertiveness that might feel uncomfortable and require some practice and support from a counselor. Follow through on consequences you set up if boundaries are broken.
For example, if you find yourself in a situation where you feel physically endangered by the person, you may remove yourself from the situation to a location you have arranged ahead of time in case of such an event.
Stay Safe; Be Prepared
Remember, a person who has lost all control of their life due to drugs, will seek to control something or someone else. If you are living under the same roof, you are a likely target.
Violence or other aggressive or threatening behaviors are never acceptable. Depending on the level and type of addiction, it may be wise to seek out an alternate housing situation so that when emergencies arise, you are prepared and can make a quick exit. It can also lend peace of mind to have an action plan in place for other circumstances that might arise.
This type of planning does not imply you are scheming behind the person’s back or abandoning your friend, partner, or spouse. Instead, you are preserving your well being so that you can be a solid support for that person once they are ready to seek treatment.
Stay Mentally And Physically Healthy
If the person facing addiction is your partner or spouse, it may be harder to remove yourself from the situation. A focus on your health and stability is paramount. Talk with your doctor or a therapist about your situation and consider regular exercise or other healthy methods of stress relief, including spending time with friends and family as a way to cope. It may also help to speak with your employer if you are concerned about how home-life might impact work, requesting some flexibility in the event of an emergency.
Physical exercise and social time can reduce stress, as can maintaining some kind of sleep schedule. Even if you’ve never had a problem drinking, it is best to not drink during stressful times, as this may lead to increased drinking and dependency.
Increasing support from those around you is a great way to reduce stress and afford an outlet when you need to talk with someone. It can also help if you decided to form an intervention team, when you feel ready.
Drug Addiction Survival Support Groups
In addition to personalized therapy, support groups offer a unique opportunity to listen to others going through many of the same struggles in coping with someone who is addicted to drugs. Having someone to talk with who understands some of the feelings of frustration, guilt, anguish, and anger you’re experiencing can help alleviate isolation, and offer additional support for you.
Educate Yourself About The Addiction
Sometimes simply knowing what to expect when an individual uses a certain drug, can help reduce some of the anxiety and stress associated with the drug abuse. Education on the addiction can be an empowering tool in addressing issues in understanding the challenges your partner or friend is facing and is a key element in separating normal behaviors from those that are drug-induced.
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Helping, But Not Enabling A Drug-Addicted Person
Guilt holds a lot of power over people. It’s the driving force behind depression that often plagues those coping with a drug-addicted spouse or friend. And it is guilt that can lead to complacency with the addiction or codependent behaviors.
When you care about someone, it can be an agonizing experience to deny them help to acquire more drugs or enable other related behaviors. However, enabling the addiction is hugely damaging for both the user and the co-survivor of the addiction.
Instead, let the drug-addicted person know you love them and that you see them changing as a result of the drugs. You can let them know you are concerned for them and will offer support to help them find treatment or support for the addiction. This may generate some anger or friction between you and the person. Be prepared for these reactions, maintain your boundaries, and if you must leave to stay safe, then do so.
You Can’t Control A Drug Addict; Consider Intervention
Even the most together and organized person has no control over someone abusing drugs. Not only will it leave you feeling frustrated, it isn’t likely to work. Most addicts are living in a perpetual state of denial and blame. Instead of telling the person what they should do with their life, consider an intervention.
An intervention led by a treatment professional can be an effective way of getting help for the person coping with drug and alcohol addiction. Interventions typically involve sitting down with the drug-addicted person and sharing your insights into how their behaviors have changed since they began using.
This is not an attempt to control the individual or force them into treatment, but offers a barrier-free pathway to recovery for the addicted person. It affords the person an opportunity to listen to you and others who have witnessed changes in behaviors as a result of the drug abuse, and allows them the freedom to choose to enter a treatment program.
An intervention is also a great way to garner support from others who are also close to the person coping with addiction.
Support Is A Phone Call Away
The resources on Addiction Campuses can help educate you on the type of addiction you may be facing and treatment options available in your area. Contact us and speak with someone today on how you can get started down a pathway of preparedness, support, and awareness to help you stay healthy and get help for your partner or friend.