When you are in a relationship with a drug addict, it can be incredibly challenging, frustrating, and at times heartbreaking. Addicted partners tend to display problematic and unhealthy relationship patterns; if your partner isn’t willing to get the help they need, splitting up may be the best decision – for both of you. This article will go into more depth and provide some insight to make breaking up with an addict easier.
Being in a Relationship with An Addict
The hard truth is that addiction affects relationships. If your partner won’t commit fully to a drug and alcohol addiction treatment program, their addiction will always be their top priority over everything else, including people.
Addiction is a selfish disease. There is nothing more selfish than chasing a good feeling despite the negative consequences it has on your life. Every aspect of your life is affected by your decision to use drugs; your relationships, your career, your finances, your health, your appearance… everything.
You may have become romantic partners before the person you love developed their addiction; this makes it easier to see how much drug abuse changes a person. Think about what sort of changes you’ve seen take place in your time dating an addict. If it has been a long time, how many times have they tried to get help in treatment centers? How many times did they fully commit?
Since addiction is a mental illness, it affects thought processing and behaviors, but treatment programs teach that having a mental disorder like addiction just means you have to work extra hard to not let the disease ruin your life. Your disease is never an acceptable excuse, or justification, for your unhealthy decisions.
How Someone With An Addiction Might Behave In a Relationship
To maintain their habit, your partner may become dishonest, deceptive, and manipulative. This doesn’t even account for the changes caused by the actual drug they’re using. Some drugs can make a person become verbally or physically abusive, careless, reckless, and cruel.
When active in drug abuse, nothing will stand in the way of your impulses. You may find yourself engaging in some toxic behaviors, including lying, cheating, stealing, and breaking the law. You may not even care that your lack of boundaries puts others at risk.
The following are common behaviors reported as concerns by licensed relationship counselors who try to help couples affected by addiction:
- Deceit: The most common complaint when it comes to dating an addict is lying. Lying is a primary tool addicts use to facilitate and hide their drug use. Once they get caught, they may lie about the reasoning or even lie about getting help. It’s very difficult to fully trust someone who struggles with addiction.
- Lack of Responsibility: When your primary goal is to keep feeding your addiction, your other responsibilities take a back seat. Additionally, it’s hard to do a good job taking care of your responsibilities while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Abuse: Drugs change people’s behaviors, both while high and while not high. People who actively use drugs are often more aggressive, irritable, confrontational, defensive, and angry; these behaviors wear down on a relationship quickly.
- Fear: As a result of all the factors mentioned above, people tend to become afraid. They’re afraid to say or do the wrong thing and trigger an abusive response, they’re afraid important tasks won’t get done, they’re afraid that their lives are in danger, and they’re afraid their partner will end up in prison or dead.
These issues are extremely toxic and no person deserves to be subjected to this kind of behavior. You are worth so much more than this.
Codependency in Relationships
Before you decide when to break up with an addict, you might have to focus inward and look for signs of codependency in your relationship. Codependency means you rely on each other so much that you lose your independence. There are many reasons you might become codependent in your relationship:
- You can’t stand the thought of being alone, so you date someone even if they mistreat you.
- You rely on your partner for comforts of life like money or housing.
- You believe that since you have your own shortcomings you don’t deserve to be with someone who is at a healthy place in their life.
- You may also be struggling with your addiction, and this lifestyle is now your reality.
- You are just so blinded by love for the person you’re not willing to give up.
Do you fit into any of these categories?
The main feeling behind codependency seems to be fear. Fear of the unknown is enough to make some people settle. It may be clear that your relationship is bad, but there is still the fear that things could be worse without it. This is a very unhealthy mindset and often leads to another common issue when dating an addict: enabling.
Codependency may cause you to fall into new behaviors that involve taking care of your partner, or helping to facilitate their drug addiction habit. This is considered enabling, and it’s harmful to your relationship and life.
Enabling behaviors to include giving a person money, not calling them out when you know they’re lying, allowing them to use drugs in your presence, not stopping dangerous decisions like driving under the influence, and not telling people when you think things are getting worse.
You might believe that you can somehow fix their addiction, or that if you turn a blind eye long enough you’ll get lucky and see them change. That’s not the reality of how beating addiction works, and you can’t put those responsibilities on yourself.
Healing begins once a person has hit their own personal version of rock bottom and they finally admit they have a problem and need help, once they are at this point they should get admitted to a treatment facility, like Pacific Sands Recovery Center, and allow professional counselors to help them through evidence-based treatment methods.
When to Break Up with an Addict
It’s going to be impossible to have a healthy, thriving relationship with someone who is active in addiction. Again, because of their illness, that person can only care about perpetuating their addiction. They will never be able to meet your needs when that’s the case.
You may not know when it’s time to say “enough is enough” or be able to see the point that splitting up is the best decision for both you and your partner. What you need to do is set up and communicate healthy boundaries, and be aware when they are unable to be maintained on either end. When your boundaries aren’t being respected, it is time to say “good-bye.”
Some examples of healthy boundaries are:
- Commit to being in a treatment program
- No lying or being deceitful
- Don’t allow your habit to ever put me at risk or in danger
- Take care of yourself and your responsibilities
How to Break Up With An Addict
The following are tips to keep in mind when breaking up with an addict.
Be Ready to Cut All Ties
If you’re thinking about breaking up with an addict, you will have to be ready to cut all ties. You can’t leave any communication path open because if that person is in active addiction, they will exploit it. That means that you need to prepare yourself to avoid phone calls, texts, or other interactions. You’ll need to get a new place to live if you share one currently and separate yourself financially as well as emotionally.
Do It When the Person is Sober
It may be challenging to find the opportunity, but it’s essential to go through with the break-up when they are sober. First, this will help you keep safe. If someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they might be more likely to lash out against you. Also, you want them to be clear-headed enough to realize that you genuinely are ending the relationship.
If you’re worried about your partner’s reaction, you should try to break up with the person in a public place, so other people are around. If that person threatens you in any way, contact the police. You may also want to consider having the break-up discussion with the guidance of a counselor. They would be able to moderate and keep the conversation constructive.
When you’re breaking up with an addict, you may feel angry with yourself because of what they’ve put you through, or that you were unable to help them. You have to remember they aren’t well and they are struggling with an illness. Put aside the urge to blame or point fingers, as this isn’t going to get you anywhere in this situation.
Finally, when you’re breaking up with an addict, you may not even realize what an emotional toll the relationship has taken on you. Along with having a personal support system, you might also want to talk to a counselor or therapist. This can be an integral part of healing, moving past the relationship, and having a healthier future.
Getting Help Before it’s Too Late
Has being in a relationship with an addict led to you developing an addiction of your own? Being the stronger person in the relationship and committing to substance abuse treatment could end up helping both of you. Pacific Sands Recovery offers programs specifically for men and women that are facing these sorts of issues.
Maintaining a healthy long-term relationship with a person who battles addiction is possible with help. Once you are ready to fully commit to an addiction treatment program the potential for a very fulfilling life is available. Call us today at 949-426-7962 and let us help you start your fulfilling life.