Drug and alcohol addictions are painful, destructive, and often times devastating for individuals. As agonizing as addiction may be for the person struggling with it, addiction is sometimes just as excruciating – if not more so – on the people around them. Friends, family members and spouses, all suffer greatly watching their loved one change through the disease. The person they once knew becomes masked by the addiction – sometimes lying or stealing to feed his or her addiction, becoming emotionally and physically unavailable, acting irrational and irritated.
So when is enough, enough?
When do you cut an addicted person out of your life? How do you detach with love? Should you continue to remain an active part of your loved one’s life? Understanding when it is healthy to detach and walk away – or when to stay – may be one of the most difficult decisions you must make as a loved one.
Realize that while you can encourage and support someone to getting help, you can’t make anyone change: only he or she is able to make that choice. And walking away from an addicted person in your life must be a personal choice – and one that only you can make.
Below, we have compiled some important reasons to stay – and important reasons to detach from a loved one struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Important Reasons To Stay With An Addicted Loved One
Your Continued Support Can Encourage Your Loved One To Seek Help
If your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol – he or she will fall and make mistakes. It’s okay to be there for him or her physically and emotionally when it happens. Even if your loved one isn’t ready to quit, understand that by not giving up on him or her, you may help your loved one believe in his or her own capabilities to recover.
Your Love Can Help Them Love Themselves
“I don’t want you around unless you stop drinking and drugging,” is something many people struggling with addiction have heard over and over. Love can often feel conditional for people who have spent years of their life in active addiction. However, supporting and loving your friend or family member when no one else will do say, can encourage them to love themselves.
Your Solid Foundation Can Give Them A Place To Go
Whether your loved one is on the brink of losing a job, facing a second DUI, or being kicked out of his or her home – it is likely that he or she will want to drink or use drugs to drown out the sorrows. By being there for your loved one, you remain a constant in their life that will be there regardless of the other chaos and noise in the world. You don’t have to fix anything for him or her, but what you can do is listen.
Important Reasons To Consider Detaching From An Addicted Loved One
Your Health Is Suffering
Whether physically, emotionally, or mentally – loving and caring for someone struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol can take an enormous toll on you. If your health is suffering, how can you expect to help your loved one’s health? If you are experiencing major health issues including extreme stress – to the point of insomnia, weight gain or other major issues – you need consider making a change. If your health is suffering, it’s okay to detach in order to get yourself better. Once you feeling better and getting healthy, you can considering trying to help once again.
Your Generosity Has Been Taken Advantage Of
Love and support go a long way when a person is struggling with addiction. However, without boundaries, love can easily translate into enabling. If you’ve given money to help pay an electric bill, and it’s been spent on drugs; if you’ve paid a car note and the car has been used to go buy drugs; or paid a cell phone bill and that phone has been used to connect with a dealer – you’re generosity is being taken advantage of. At this point, not only are you being hurt by your loved one, but you’re also enabling his or her addiction. It is ok to lay the limits, and if those boundaries are broken, to detach from a loved one. Only you can decide what those limits are – and how much you can take.
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Your Loved One Has Become Violent Or Your Safety Is Threatened
When it comes to violence and threats of violence towards you or your children, take a zero-tolerance stance. Your safety and the safety of your children needs to take priority in your life. Regardless of the addiction and any other circumstances, the moment you feel that your own safety has been threatened or violated, you need to detach. If your loved one comes around and can genuinely prove that he or she cannot or will not threaten or become violent, you can re-evaluate. However, when your safety is in jeopardy, don’t wait around to see what happens next.
Detaching from a friend or family member is a difficult, and very personal decision for each individual. Sometimes it is inevitable. Sometimes detaching is the motivating key for some people to get help. While it is important to be there the best you can for your loved one, you must also set the limits and consider your own health, safety, and well-being. Understand that detaching isn’t always a permanent decision – it’s okay to say goodbye “for now” while you get yourself better.