Loving a Drug Addict
In This Article
Signs Your Loved One is Using Drugs
Being in love with a drug addict is difficult.
For many people, drug addiction is enough to end the relationship. If you also struggle with addiction, it exacerbates the problem. Two drug addicts in love is not a healthy relationship, even if they adore each other.
Domestic violence is common in relationships that involve addiction.
Family members are often forced to enter counseling or conduct an intervention for a loved one or a couple struggling with addiction.
There are several ways to tell if a loved one is using drugs, even if that person is not honest with you about drug use.
Physical signs of drug use include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Enlarged or shrunken pupils
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Unusual smelling breath or odors on clothing and the body
- Deteriorating physical appearance and neglect of personal grooming
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
Behavioral signs of drug use include:
- Poor performance at work or school
- Lateness or absenteeism
- Financial challenges that sometimes lead to theft
- Suspicious or secretive actions
- Changes in friend groups and other social habits
- Legal problems
Psychological signs of drug use include:
- Personality changes
- Mood swings with angry outbursts and irritability
- Lack of motivation
- Periods of unexplained hyperactivity
How Drug Addiction Affects Relationships
Substance abuse affects everyone who cares about the addicted person. There might be only one person in a relationship who is addicted to drugs, but the addiction is a problem that both partners, as well as other people, must deal with.
Drug addiction alienates the addict and their loved ones.
It damages trust and creates a lack of intimacy. People who love addicts tend to feel lonely and isolated. Many develop depression and find that their interactions with the addicted person affect all of their future relationships.
What to Do if You Love a Drug Addict
There are many things you can do if you love a drug addict to help your loved one and maintain your well-being. For example:
Don’t Enable Your Partner
It’s tempting to defend your loved one’s destructive behaviors or try to protect them from consequences when they are addicted to drugs. It makes sense to keep an addiction private, so life outside of the home continues as usual, but addiction inevitably causes problems outside of the home.
Enabling your addicted partner only delays the inevitable and makes the problem worse.
Enabling also includes offering or fulfilling a request to buy drugs for your partner.
Addiction causes someone to be very deceitful. The addicted person will do anything they can to get their drug of choice. Set a boundary and refuse to get drugs for your loved one, no matter how much they beg and tell you it will have a positive outcome.
If you love an addicted person, resist trying to clean up their messes or “cover” for them when they use drugs. Enabling your partner does nothing to help you or them.
Hold an Intervention
An intervention is a structured encounter that addresses an addicted person’s issue.
Friends and family, usually with the assistance of an addiction specialist, confront the addicted person. They present examples of how the addiction is destructive and what they will do if the addicted person refuses to get treatment.
Interventions are not intended to attack or bombard the addicted person with complaints. Instead, it’s an opportunity to be clear and direct about the problem, to set boundaries regarding the handling of the problem, and to offer love and support to the addicted person as they begin their recovery journey.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a 12-step peer group support program for people with alcohol use disorder. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a similar program built on the same 12-steps for people addicted to drugs.
These programs are great for people who have been struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction for a short or moderate period. They are also useful for those who have completed comprehensive treatment programs and need something to help them maintain sobriety.
AA and NA are free to attend and require that someone only have a desire to stay sober to participate.
Help Them Find Treatment
One of the best ways you can help an addicted loved one is to assist them in finding an addiction treatment program. If you intend to conduct an intervention, research treatment options in advance so you can present them during the intervention. An addiction specialist can help you with this.
Even if you do not conduct an intervention, you can still approach your loved one with treatment options. In some cases, a person might want to get help for an addiction, but they have no idea where to begin or how to find a treatment program.
Join a Support Group
Support groups are a great option for people who care about a person addicted to drugs or alcohol. Al-Anon is one of the most popular support groups for loved ones of alcoholics.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a similar program for people who loved drug addicts. These support groups offer partners and loved ones of addicts a place to share their experiences and learn from others who share a similar experience.
Learn When to Let Go
There comes a point in some relationships that one partner must walk away from the addicted partner. It’s one of the most difficult things for a person to do, but it might be the only option for helping an addicted loved one recover.
There is nothing wrong with walking away from an addicted partner if it’s for the best.
Getting the guidance you need from addiction and mental health professionals can help you determine the best time to walk away. Knowing when to give up on an addicted person is an important part of understanding addiction and taking care of your own health and well-being.
Can a Drug Addict Love You Back?
No, at least not in the way that healthy love is defined while the addiction is active. An active drug addict might believe they love someone, and at times, they might behave in a loving way. But it is a broken relationship if active addiction is a part of it.
If you are asking yourself if a drug addict can love, seeking counseling and learning about addiction can be helpful.
It’s important to note that many addicts are attracted to people with codependency issues or who are also addicts. Your enabling behaviors do nothing to help your loved one. The same is true if you neglect your health issues or fail to set healthy boundaries.
Suppose you are in a relationship with someone who is addicted to drugs. In that case, the best thing you can do is seek support from a professional who understands the dynamics of drug addiction and how it affects relationships.
All hope is not lost, though. It is possible for someone with a drug addiction to recover and the addiction to be inactive.
Many people recover from addiction and live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives capable of healthy and loving connections. The healthier you are and the more you focus on your own life, the more you can help the person you care about if he or she is willing to accept help and break their addictive behaviors.
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- “Intervention: Help a Loved One Overcome Addiction.” Mayo Clinic, 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451.
- “National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).” Drugabuse.gov, 2018, www.drugabuse.gov