The Impact of Drug Addiction in Families

Does everything seem to revolve around the addict in your family? How does a family member’s drug addiction hurt your family? We will address how addiction impacts not only the addict but their entire family and give you some suggestions on how to help your family heal. Then, we invite your questions, comments, and experiences at the end.

Addiction Creates A New Norm

There becomes a new norm when a person in the family is grappling with addiction. Typically, when a family member has an issue, the family can get together to help that person get through the rough time. With addiction it may not be that simple. Why? Because addiction and family dysfunction often come together.

There is no one way to deal with an addict and because we love that person, sometimes what is best for them does not seem like it. The more help your family provides, it seems like the deeper the addict goes into their addiction. The more you create an environment of love and support, the more the addict lies and manipulates friends and family.

Why Do Addicts End Up Hurting Their Families?

At first, they may be escaping some issue or pain. The addict knows that what they are doing is not right but they cannot help their urge to get high and escape. Then by the time they realize what is happening, they are physically and psychologically addicted to the high. Now they have to choose their family or their drug.

The drug usually wins.

An addict may not intend on hurting family. But in order to keep getting high they have no choice. Their internal struggle soon gets diluted in their high and, in time, hurting their family just becomes part of the process of getting what they need; drugs.

Division: The New Family Norm

All of the lies, the disappointment, the irresponsibility and watching a loved one hurt themselves can become very taxing; not just on the addict but especially on the family.  The family feels genuine pain alongside the addict.

Sometimes, this can tear families apart, leaving people in separate corners. The family can become divided. Some family members become enablers and some become distant to the addict, casting them out of their lives. Family members start to argue on how to handle the addict; some frustrated by the enabling and others frustrated by what seems like cruel treatment.

Now, not only is the addict struggling, but the family is hurt, divided, fighting and possibly separating. Addiction can impact the family in such a way that it can cause members to stop talking to one another. Addiction can trigger divorce and cause families to have ill feelings towards one another. It seems unfair that the family has an addict to take care of and now has to also deal with the secondary issues occurring within the unit.

Mend The Divide

Even if the addict is not in recovery, the family can be! Though the family may not agree on the best course of action…that is part of the road to recovery. Have hope that addiction and family issues can be worked out, and you CAN come to a point of agreement.

There will come a point where everyone in the family will become frustrated. In fact, it is important for there to be a divide, so mending the family can follow. If every family member does not do what they think is best and explore every avenue, they will feel they did not do everything they could do. Each person must go through their own journey and experience the addict on their own terms. Some need to learn how to love an addict without enabling them. Others need to come to a level of acceptance.

Once everyone has done their part, it is time to get together and re-evaluate the situation. Not everyone may get exactly what they want, but a balance can be achieved. This process can be a relief for families and allow them to start to trust one another again and feel like they are on the same team. Including a specialist may really help each person see their part and how they can get together and be on the same page in regards to the addict. Who can you ask for help?

  • an intervention specialist
  • a certified representative from Alcoholics Anonymous
  • or a psychotherapist…

Each of these professionals can help the family come together and do what is best for the addict. A divided family can allow an addict to play family members against one another. An addict may find it easier to get what they need when they can do this. They can tell mom that dad is mean and make mom feel sorry for them. But remember: ENABLING does not help an addict!

When an addict sees that the family stands firm, a wall is created that is harder for the addict to penetrate. Mending a family can help the family heal regardless of the state of the addict but may also help the addict in the process.

How To Help A Drug Addict: The Law Of Attraction

How To Help A Drug Addict: The Law Of Attraction

The Law of Attraction implies positive attracts positive. If you are acting in a negative way and expressing feelings of sadness and negativity, then it is likely your spouse will feed off of that and/or use this against you. If you behave in a positive way and live your life positively, despite your spouse’s addiction, it may generate positive results.

If you perpetuate anger, disappointment, and sadness, you may generate similar results in the exchange you have with your spouse. You may not be able to change someone else, but you can either inspire them to change or inspire yourself to move on. So, what does this look like in practical, real life terms when living in a codependent marriage. How can you live with or love an active drug addict?

You Want The Lies To Stop

WHAT HAPPENS: The lies and manipulation can hurt the most. Some of us would rather our bank account be emptied for a weekend bender than have a spouse look you in the eye and tell you they are sober, when they clearly are not.

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WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT: If you can understand that lies are part of the addiction, the lies may not hurt as much. If part of the disease is to hide the truth to maintain the addiction, then take a step back and expect to be lied to. You know very well, the truth from a lie, deep down inside. If you want the lies to stop, then try to trust your instincts. If something does not sound right or feel right to you, then that is the truth.

You Want Him To Get Into A Program

WHAT HAPPENS: He may have failed at rehabilitation programs, tried to kick the addiction on his own, or refused that he needs help. You are fully aware he has a problem and you know he will need help.

Rehab or detox does not always work, especially not the first time. You do not have to give up simply because your spouse has failed at recovery. You can however change your strategy. If an addict is forced to get help, it probably means they did not want to. How many times have you done something you did not want to do and kept doing it? The person who is addicted should want to get help, not feel like they are doing it for someone else.

WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT: You cannot control someone into getting help, but you can make it less likely their addiction will run smoothly. Decide to stop enabling a drug addicted or alcohol husband. Shed some light on what is going on to the people around you both who do not know what is really going on. If you have open and honest conversations with people you love and trust they may be able to help and stop enabling the addict. When an addict has nowhere and no one to turn to, sometimes they will have no choice but to see just how unmanageable their life has become.

You Want Him To Stop Hanging Out With Other Drug Users

WHAT HAPPENS: You want to show him how the “friends” he is using with are not a good influence on him. You block or track his calls, you throw his phone out, hide his keys, or confront his friends but he still goes out with them. These are not his friends; these are his dealers, his drug buddies, and people who are in the same point in their life as he is. You cannot compete with anyone that he gets high with. If you try, he will just lie.

WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT: So try a different approach. Stop caring about who he hangs out with and let him do what he wants to do. Stop fighting him. He knows you want him to stop. You have made the things you want him to change clear. Why play the game?

Stop playing into his addiction and let him realize that you are moving on with your life, and he is welcome to do the same. He only detests you when you try to stop him from using, so perhaps letting him know you are not happy with his addiction, that you are going to live your own life, will send a clear message; he will lose you.

Should you leave an addicted or alcoholic spouse? It’s going to be your decision. But once you decide, get help and support to follow through. This time though, you will be showing him, not just telling him.

Can You Get Your Husband Into Recovery?

“I will stop using as soon as I get through this stressful month at work.”
“I need you to help me; I cannot live without you.”
“I will stop drinking for a month, I can control it.”
You pray that each time you hear words of remorse or shame from your addicted spouse that this will really be the last time. You have read every book on recovery for families and how to help an addict and…no luck. You hang your hopes on the few stories you have heard, like urban legends, of wives who have helped their husbands into recovery. You are skeptical of anyone who tells you that you cannot fix your husband.

The truth is that YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR SPOUSE. This is a harsh reality. We know this. So, if you need to share and know that you are not alone, please leave us a comment here. We’ll try to get back with you ASAP.

Enabling is not helping! The secret to helping an addict

Are you helping or enabling?

Have you ever said…

“I don’t understand why he can’t stay sober, I do everything for him, pay the bills, take care of the children, all he has to do is focus on his recovery.”

Q: There is a fine line between helping and enabling. But how do you know that you’re enabling a drug addict or alcoholic? And what are some examples of enabling behaviors?

A: Anything a person does that makes life easier for an addict to use drugs is enabling. For example, taking on extra chores at home or overtime at work for extra money to make up for what the addict is not doing is enabling. Taking care of your children because your spouse is high is not enabling, the welfare of your children come first. However, coming home to an unmade dinner and the house a wreck, cleaning up and making dinner for the addict to eat is enabling.

So, how can you stop enabling an addicted husband, spouse, or partner?

The secret to helping an addict

The secret to helping an addict is NOT HELPING an addict! You might be asking what this means and how can you differentiate between which actions help and which actions do not help. The lines may become blurred, especially when children are involved. However, one thing is very clear: if you find yourself doing anything more than your share for the sole reason that an addict is getting high, you are enabling.

Helping an addict husband, spouse, or loved one is really no secret at all, it just seems that way because no one really takes the most appropriate approach to dealing with an addicted loved one. People seem to do the opposite and try to help the person they love by taking care of them. This natural instinct is acceptable in other circumstances but not when someone is deep into addiction and when that addiction is (and it almost always does) destroying your relationship, home, and family.

Doing nothing

“So I should just sit by and watch my spouse fall apart and do nothing?”

YES. But it is not that simple.

Every morning, I ask my ten year old to make her bed and every morning she does not do it and I go in and do it for her. My husband asked me why she would ever do it herself when she knows I will.

If you apply the same theory to an addict, an addict gets high and they know their spouse or partner will pick up the slack. Even if they endure anger, screaming or the silent treatment, why would they ever get clean? They can get high and have the responsibilities of life taken care of for them. They might apologize, but they do it again because they know they can.

More effective help

No one is saying that if a loved one is struggling with addiction that you should just get up and walk away. When an addict is struggling, it is in their best interest for you to create boundaries with them and abide by them. Taking the SAFETY NET away from the addict allows them to decide their life is unmanageable and make a change or go deeper into addiction, to a place where they will need to decide, at some point, that enough is enough.

You will know when it’s time to help…

When it is time to help an addict, it will become evident. When an addict – on their own and of their own volition – asks for help to get sober, that is the right time to help. The promises of getting clean will not be for next week or next month but right now.

You’ll know it’s time to help again because the addict will want to get help right away because they will no longer be able to go on living as they are. This is a good time to step in and assist them into a recovery program, tell them how you feel about their sobriety, tell them how much you love them while still keeping those boundaries. The best way to help an addict is to let them know you are there to help them as long as they are in recovery.

An addict may relapse but as long as they go back into recovery and chronic relapse does not become the norm, your love and support are still warranted.

how to leave an addict and let go

Do you find yourself saying…

  • “I am scared that if I leave they will die or be homeless or kill themselves.”
  • “I am afraid that if I leave, they will get better and find someone else.”
  • “I am frightened of being alone.”
  • “I am petrified that I will never love anyone like I love the addict.”
  • “I am fearful of telling my friends and family how bad things really are.”

The one thing all of these statements have in common are the words: SCARED, AFRAID, FRIGHTENED, PETRIFIED, FEARFUL. These are all just different words for feelings of fear. It is difficult to think about letting go of someone when you have so many fears about leaving. But, moving on after a relationship with an addict may be just what you need.

Where does the fear come from?

There is seldom a person who is thinking about leaving an addict who does not feel a powerful and sometimes overwhelming sense of fear. If your love for someone consists of fear, you should look at the source of the fear. We all experience love and friendship, but if something is not right, there is someone else out there for you.

It is a healthy thought to know that life can go on beyond a relationship that has failed regardless of who is to blame. If you have a fear of leaving someone, especially when the situation is toxic, then you must turn the mirror on you and take a look. Check out these symptoms of a codependent marriage for a start.

Furthermore, the fear of letting go is usually blown out of proportion because of the dramatic nature of this type of relationship. The ups and downs of dealing with an active addict may put you in a cycle of elation and depression. This fear may be a symptom of a deeper problem engrained in experiences from the past and not so much the present. The fear itself may be unjustified in the present situation.

Let go of the fear

Life will not end for you if you leave an addict. Life may only just begin again. Because addiction can beat you down, you can become used to an attitude of negativity. A lack of enthusiasm for life can become the norm. And even though you may look at addiction as a disease, you cannot blame yourself or hold yourself accountable for someone else’s conscious choices.

If the fear comes from a place where you think the addict may fall apart without you, then you should take a good look at that. You are not responsible for anyone else, especially if they are mistreating you. When you play the role of caretaker, the addict usually dictates how you exist. If you can look at your role in the relationship and what it means to you, why it keeps you from leaving, and why it holds you back, you may be able to see the situation through objective eyes. Gaining perspective usually alleviates the fear.

The underlying truth: You’ve got issues

My husband and I were together for twelve years and we had one child. He had cheated on me, lied to me about everything, used drugs in our home, disappeared, and was verbally and emotionally abusive and yet I could not let him go. I had to ask myself if this was a problem with him or with me. The one good thing about my husband’s addiction was that I learned a great deal about myself. I allowed this to go on for reasons that had little to do with him and more to do with me.
Q: What can you do if your loved one is an addict?

A: Let go!

It is naturally hard to let someone you love go, despite the situation. But what I learned through my fear was that I had insecurities and underlying unresolved issues from my past. I was using my husband’s drug addiction to deflect my own issues. My husband was hiding behind drugs and I was hiding behind them too. I was able to point the finger at what was wrong with him so I did not have to deal what was wrong with me.

Facing yourself starts the healing process

Once I started to delve deeper into my personal issues and uncover self-confidence, the fear lessened. In fact, over time, the fear went away and letting go became a lot easier. When I was no longer afraid to deal with my own troubles, I did not want to be in a relationship with someone who was still afraid to deal with theirs.

If your relationship with an addict is more than you can handle, you may be thinking it is time to leave. If you find yourself daydreaming about a new relationship with a partner who is not an addict, you may be ready to move on. But you don’t need to do it alone. Please share your story, questions, or comments in the section below.

How to STOP enabling my drug addicted husband

Are you ready to hear the truth?

Some women will post on my blog about how they want to stop enabling their husband’s addiction. Their posts seem so desperate and so imminent. I know what they are going through because I have been there; I was married to an addict, too. So, I spend time and energy crafting a heartfelt and realistic response. I try to address their needs and personalize the advice for them and then … weeks will go by and … nothing. Months and … nothing. Some of these women never reply.

I thought about this for a while and tried to put myself in their shoes. When they are reading online for answers and posting their frustrations and their stories they are usually in a crisis situation, either the addict is binging on drugs, disappeared, or done some other inexcusable act. Just because they are posting on my blog does not mean that they are ready to hear what I have to tell them.

When I explain what is most likely to happen or what will help them in the long run, they do not answer back because that is not the answer they were looking for. Most women are not ready to hear that they need to change. Perhaps telling their stories just helps them purge all of their anxiety or they still believe I can tell them how they can fix their partner.

How To Let Go Of An Addict

Letting go of an addict starts by finding help

Each co-addict will find their own journey in the recovery process—some will utilize Al-Anon, psychotherapy, the support of family and friends, uncover strength, or sometimes the addict leaves and gives them no choice but to move on. Others will lose their homes, their savings, and go into debt before being able to walk through the door of recovery. Recovery is a journey—the following are a few skills to help start letting go of the addict and bring you back to center.