You may have a close friend or family member who is a drug addict or alcoholic. Loving an addict is difficult, it requires significant pain to watch them deteriorate to the point of not being recognizable. Either they’re already at that point, or you fear they will be. Regardless, there are several ways to help an addict get sober. None of the ways you will like, but as a recovery advocate I can tell you what I’ve seen work from my observations.
Loving an Addict – Where do you draw the line?
A lot of loved ones of addicts forget where the addict ends and they begin. They tend to have a strong need to help the addict to the point of neglecting themselves. Addiction is commonly noted as a family illness. What’s meant by this is that the addicts addiction doesn’t just affect them, it affects you as well. It’s easy to write off the pain we’re going through as insignificant relative to their pain. However, writing off your own recovery in the end hurts both you and the drug addict. Not only is it prolonging suffering, its cultivating resentments towards a person who’s not themselves as a result of that suffering. The drug addict is less likely to get sober and the relationship is more likely to end without reconciliation.
How does focusing on my recovery help them?
No one has ever “helped” an addict get sober. A drug addict is just as powerless over their addiction as you are. The sooner you accept that there’s nothing you can do the sooner you’ll begin to heal. Once you begin to heal from focusing on your recovery the addict can be inspired to quit. They can see that you’re moving on in a positive direction and feel inclined to do so as well. You won’t be harboring resentments or enabling the addict, you’ll be living life to the fullest. As selfish as this may feel, you have to accept until you focus on yourself you aren’t at a capacity to inspire sobriety for any drug addict. You’ll never stop loving an addict, but by loving yourself you’re a walking demonstration of what they can have without drugs.
Philip Markoff (Associate of Science) is an online influencer and thought leader on addiction education; he is known as his alias “CG Kid” who’s obtained a large audience primarily on YouTube as a vlogger and journalist. His current sobriety date from polysubstance chemical dependency is June 9th, 2013.