HomeLifestyleDating & Relationships

How to cope when a loved one is an addict


1st Jan 2015 Dating & Relationships

How to cope when a loved one is an addict

For every person dealing with addiction, there’s at least one other person suffering along with them. Loving someone an addict can be exhausting and challenging. Here are seven tips for coping.

Learn about addiction


By educating yourself about addiction, you’re less likely to judge the person you love.

For example, to a person who is not addicted, it can seem as simple as ‘just stopping’, but it’s important to understand that addiction is not a choice.



Don’t use guilt tactics

It’s important to understand that simply pleading with your loved one to stop isn’t going to work.

Addiction is complicated, multi-faceted and powerful, and trying to reason with “if you loved me/us, then you’d stop,” is likely to be more damaging to you when they don’t.



Talk to your loved one

talking to loved one

Instead, find a time when your loved one is sober (and you are too), to try and talk, calmly, about what is worrying you.

Go in with a determination to remain calm, no matter how frustrating it gets. You can get advice on talking to a loved one with drug and alcohol addiction here and for gambling problems here.



Understand that your lives will change

When all you’re wishing for is for your loved one to ‘go back to how they were before’ it’s easy to wish for your lives to go back to where they were, too.

It’s important to realise that there’s no quick and easy fix and that recovering from addiction requires hard work and acceptance. Things will inevitably be different.



Avoid enabling behaviours

enabling behaviour

Protecting a person from the consequences of their behaviour, lying for them or covering up an incident, all act as enabling behaviours.

Allow the addicted person to experience the consequences of their actions. Enabling behaviour for someone with a gambling addiction, for example, would be bailing them out of a debt.

For a substance misuser, it might be calling in sick for them when you know they’re out drinking/using.



Find local support

Addiction is a medical condition, so you shouldn’t expect your loved one to be able to spontaneously stop. It is most likely that they will need help and support.

You can’t force someone to seek treatment if they don’t want to, but finding local support and offering information is a good start—even if to start with, the information is just for you.

There are a number of charities, support groups and helplines available, as well as NHS and private addiction services. Some useful advice and services can be found through the NHS and through Adfam



Look after yourself

look after yourself

Loving someone who is addicted can be exhausting. Be sure to look after your own health, both physical and mental.

Take time out to think about something else. Be mindful that you’re not working harder than the addicted person to ‘try and fix the problem’. Finding a support group is a good start.


This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...