Dealing with an addict
Living with an active addict
An ‘active addict’ refers to one who is using a substance or engaging in a certain kind of behaviour. Living and dealing with an active drug addict can be devastating.
There is no easy way to find out and no way to soften the blow. Deciding how to proceed in your relationship with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can be very baffling, and it often feels like all the pressure is on you to figure out a way to preserve your relationship and save the person who is suffering. This ends up with both parties living in pain and perpetuates a never ending cycle of abusive behaviour – the addict abusing himself or herself and you.
Some effects of living and dealing with a drug addict
Even if you do or do not share a home with the addict in your life, you will be subject to the unpredictable and unstable behaviour that comes hand in hand with active addiction. They will constantly lie about their drug use and their whereabouts, steal from you or other family members to pay for their habit, and engage in abusive behaviour when they are under the influence of the drug or when they are recovering from a stint of use.
This will be followed by profuse apologies and promises that they will never do it again or that everything will get better. This is an endless cycle, and this can keep you in perpetual confusion. The only way to end this cycle is to guide your loved one to the help they need to get in order to recover.
Co-dependency and living with a drug addict
Codependency occurs when you are involved with a drug addict or alcoholic and you enable their behaviour. For example, you may lie for them or cover for them when they lie, make mistakes or do not show up for work because of their addiction. You may make excuses for their behaviour believing you are helping them. This ultimately enables their addiction and depletes you of your own resources – resources that you have no energy to renew.
Taking care of yourself means forcing the addict in your life to take responsibility for himself or herself. By putting the person you love, the addict, in a position to chose help or to move out of your life, you are saving yourself and giving them an opportunity to save themselves. Please keep in mind that you cannot save your loved one from addiction, but you can give the person a chance to save themselves by getting the necessary help.
Some helpful steps to deal with a drug addicted family member or loved one:
- Love the person no matter what course of action you decide to take ultimately.
- Check out a programme like Al-Anon or Alateen. Although there are no meetings currently in Muscat, they can be accessed online.
- Understand the disease your loved one is suffering from and try to encourage them to get help.
- Please do not give up. You could be instrumental in helping your loved one beat this.
- Educate yourself on the disease of addiction and alcoholism.
- Take your loved one to AA or NA meetings if they want to go. Talking to an addict or alcoholic that is in recovery can be invaluable in finding a good course of action to follow.
- Consider doing an intervention with the help of a professional addiction counsellor.
- If the loved one is a spouse and they choose to get help, do not leave them. They are trying to fix their lives, so please give them the benefit of the doubt. Wish them well while staying in their lives. Feel free to ask if they are going to detox or if they are going to meetings. However, if they choose not to get help, then leave. Do not sit there and watch them do more damage.