It is devastating to love someone who becomes addicted. The feelings of powerlessness, rage, hopelessness, heartbreak, despair can feel so overwhelming. For many relationships it can feel impossible to know what to do when staying is destructive but walking away feels wrong.
If you are unsure of what to do, that’s okay. The most important thing you can do is protect yourself until you know in your heart what to do.
Ways to Protect Yourself While You Love Someone in Active Addiction
- Try not to take any harmful words or anger personally. It is not about you. The disease has taken over the person you love, and it is the addiction talking. Remember, this is not your fault, and what happened is not your fault. You are not responsible for someone’s addiction. Do not beat yourself up or talk negatively about yourself.
- Set limits and boundaries with interactions or time together. Have a clear conversation about what you will and won’t do, and do not cross that line. A tip is to keep it focused on exchanging information/resources and trying to keep it as productive as possible. The second it devolves, or you feel abused, unsafe, or taken advantage of, remove yourself from the situation. Do not engage with threatening behavior, it can become a trap and spiral out of control. Do not respond to phrases such as, “If you loved me you would…”
- Seek support in the form of Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and other recovery/healing communities. It is an impossible burden to carry on your own, and while your experience belongs to you, there are so many people living in similar situations. Connecting with them will provide invaluable support, and you may feel less alone in it. Additionally, you can seek out mental health support, and find faith/spirituality collectives.
- Remember, you can’t save anyone. We can only control and save ourselves. Take care of yourself, or the impact of the addiction could take you down as well. Give yourself all the love you aren’t receiving, and work to become your own beloved during this time.
- Remain focused on you, your goals, your dreams, and your work in the world.
Create affirmations of self-love and self-assurance. Remind yourself of your gifts, talents, and abilities. Hold on to yourself and hold on for yourself.
- Know that it can be challenging to know if we are enabling or empowering. The line between these two is so narrow, and it can be so hard to decipher what is helpful and what is hurtful, especially when dealing with a loved one. Try not to beat yourself up about what you are doing, not doing, or what you wish you could have done better.
- Take space or time for you to do whatever you need to do to get through it. Reflect on the relationship, and honestly assess the impact of it in your life, and on your health and happiness. While no one can tell you what to do in terms of leaving or staying in the relationship, take time to consider if it is truly giving you what you want and need. It could also be an opportunity for each person to take a break and focus on themselves.
- Remember that while love is strong, it might take more than love to change or stop a behavior and addiction. If mental health professionals, a care team, or treatment centers are involved in the care of your loved one, work to put confidence in them. Ask questions, stay informed as much as you want to, and allow yourself to build trust in them.
- Rely on your support system, reach out to your support system. Find healthy ways to cope with the heartache, and with the anger. Develop a team of people who care about you and check in with them regularly. Remind yourself of healthy love, and ensure you are receiving it in your life. Spend time with people who are healthy, supportive, respectful, and loving.
- Trying to figure out what went wrong can be a pandora’s box. It is possible to get stuck replaying the tapes, questioning, going back over what happened, or wishing you had said or done something differently, because then maybe things would have gone differently. While these thoughts can be inevitable, please do not let them take you down, or let yourself get trapped ruminating. Set a timer if you want to reflect, process, or remember history, but you must pull yourself out of it. Working on the past with a counselor is wise.
- Remember there is no shame in letting go or leaving a relationship. Staying out of guilt or a sense of responsibility is a disservice to you, to your loved one, and will cause more damage in the long run. You are worthy of healthy love, do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
If your loved one or you are seeking support for substance use and are wanting to heal relationships in all their forms, contact us at Ashley Addiction Treatment. Our calm and peaceful residence is located on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, in Northern Maryland. We are committed to walking the path of recovery by your side and provide comprehensive and therapeutic support every step of the way. You deserve to have the best love possible, but that has to start with the love, health, and commitment to recovery you show yourself.
For more information, or to take the next steps, contact us at 800-799-4673.