Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

When Someone You Love has an Addiction


When Someone You Love Has an Addiction

The fallout from an addiction, for addicts and the people who love them, is devastating – the manipulations, the guilt, the destruction of relationships and the breakage of people. When addicts know they are loved by someone who is invested in them, they immediately have fuel for their addiction. Your love and your need to bring them safely through their addiction might see you giving money you can’t afford, saying yes when that yes will destroy you, lying to protect them, and having your body turn cold with fear from the midnight ring of the phone. You dread seeing them and you need to see them, all at once. 

You might stop liking them, but you don’t stop loving them. If you’re waiting for the addict to stop the insanity – the guilt trips, the lying, the manipulation – it’s not going to happen. If you can’t say no to the manipulations of their addiction in your unaddicted state, know that they won’t say no from their addicted one. Not because they won’t, but because they can’t. 

If you love an addict, it will be a long and excruciating road before you realise that there is absolutely nothing you can do. It will come when you’re exhausted, heartbroken, and when you feel the pain of their self-destruction pressing relentlessly and permanently against you. The relationships and the world around you will start to break, and you’ll cut yourself on the jagged pieces.  That’s when you’ll know, from the deepest and purest part of you, that you just can’t live like this any more.  

I’ve worked with plenty of addicts, but the words in this post come from loving one. I have someone in my life who has been addicted to various substances. It’s been heartbreaking to watch. It’s been even more heartbreaking to watch the effect on the people I love who are closer to him than I am.

I would be lying if I said that my compassion has been undying. It hasn’t. It’s been exhausted and stripped back to bare. I feel regularly as though I have nothing left to give him. What I’ve learned, after many years, is that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to change him. With all of our combined wisdom, strength, love and unfailing will to make things better for him, there is nothing we can do. 

I realised a while ago that I couldn’t ride in the passenger seat with someone at the wheel who was on such a relentless path to self-destruction. It’s taken many years, a lot of sadness, and a lot of collateral damage to people, relationships and lives outside of his.

What I do know is that when he is ready to change direction, I’ll be there, with love, compassion and a fierce commitment to stand beside him in whatever way he needs to support his recovery. He will have an army of people behind him and beside him when he makes the decision, but until then, I and others who love him are powerless. I know that.

Nobody intends for a behaviour to become an addiction, and if you are someone who loves an addict – whether it’s a parent, child, partner, friend, sibling – the guilt, the shame and the helplessness can be overwhelming. 

Addiction is not a disease of character, personality, spirit or circumstance. It can happen to anyone. It’s a human condition with human consequences, and being that we’re all human, we’re all vulnerable. Addicts can come from any life and from any family. It’s likely that in our lifetime, if we don’t love someone with an addiction, we’ll know someone who does, so this is an important conversation to have, for all of us. 

The problem with loving an addict is that sometimes the things that will help them are the things that would seem hurtful, cold and cruel if they were done in response to non-addicts. Often, the best ways to respond to an addict have the breathtaking capacity to drown those who love them with guilt, grief, self-doubt and of course, resistance.

Loving an addict in any capacity can be one of the loneliest places in the world. It’s easy to feel judged for withdrawing support for the addict, but eventually, this becomes the only possible response. Unless someone has been in battle armour beside you, fighting the fight, being brought to their knees, with their heart-broken and their will tested, it’s not for them to judge. 

The more we can talk about openly about addiction, the more we can lift the shame, guilt, grief and unyielding self-doubt that often stands in the way of being able to respond to an addict in a way that supports their healing, rather than their addiction. It’s by talking that we give each other permission to feel what we feel, love who we love, and be who we are, with the vulnerabilities, frayed edges, courage and wisdom that are all a part of being human.

When Someone You Love is an Addict.

  1. You’re dealing with someone different now. 

    When an addiction takes hold, the person you love disappears, at least until the addiction loosens its grip. The person you love is still in there somewhere, but that’s not who you’re dealing with. The person you remember may have been warm, funny, generous, wise, strong – so many wonderful things – but addiction changes people. It takes a while to adjust to this reality and it’s very normal to respond to the addicted person as though he or she is the person you remember. This is what makes it so easy to fall for the manipulations, the lies and the betrayal – over and over. You’re responding to the person you remember – but this is not that person. The sooner you’re able to accept this, the sooner you can start working for the person you love and remember, which will mean doing what sometimes feels cruel, and always heartbreaking, so the addiction is starved of the power to keep that person away. The person you love is in there – support that person, not the addict in front of you. The sooner you’re able to stop falling for the manipulations, lies, shame and guilt that feeds their addiction, the more likely it will be that the person you remember will be able to find the way back to you.

  2. Don’t expect them to be on your logic.

    When an addiction takes hold, the person’s reality becomes distorted by that addiction. Understand that you can’t reason with them or talk them into seeing things the way you do. For them, their lies don’t feel like lies. Their betrayal doesn’t feel like betrayal. Their self-destruction doesn’t always feel like self-destruction. It feels like survival. Change will come when there is absolutely no other option but to change, not when you’re able to find the switch by giving them enough information or logic.

  3. When you’re protecting them from their own pain, you’re standing in the way of their reason to stop.

    Addicts will do anything to feed their addiction because when the addiction isn’t there, the emotional pain that fills the space is greater. People will only change when what they are doing causes them enough pain, that changing is a better option than staying the same. That’s not just for addicts, that’s for all of us. We often avoid change – relationships, jobs, habits – until we’ve felt enough discomfort with the old situation, to open up to a different option.

    Change happens when the force for change is greater than the force to stay the same. Until the pain of the addiction outweighs the emotional pain that drives the addiction, there will be no change. 

    When you do something that makes their addictive behaviour easier, or protects them from the pain of their addiction – perhaps by loaning them money, lying for them, driving them around – you’re stopping them from reaching the point where they feel enough pain that letting go of the addiction is a better option. Don’t minimise the addiction, ignore it, make excuses for it or cover it up. Love them, but don’t stand in the way of their healing by protecting them from the pain of their addiction. 

  4. There’s a different way to love an addict.

    When you love them the way you loved them before the addiction, you can end up supporting the addiction, not the person. Strong boundaries are important for both of you. The boundaries you once had might find you innocently doing things that make it easier for the addiction to continue. It’s okay to say no to things you might have once agreed to – in fact, it’s vital – and is often one of the most loving things you can do. If it’s difficult, have an anchor – a phrase or an image to remind you of why your ‘no’ is so important. If you feel as though saying no puts you in danger, the addiction has firmly embedded itself into the life of the person you love. In these circumstances, be open to the possibility that you may need professional support to help you to stay safe, perhaps by stopping contact. Keeping a distance between you both is no reflection on how much love and commitment you feel to the person, and all about keeping you both safe.

  5. Your boundaries – they’re important for both of you.

    If you love an addict, your boundaries will often have to be stronger and higher than they are with other people in your life. It’s easy to feel shame and guilt around this, but know that your boundaries are important because they’ll be working hard for both of you. Setting boundaries will help you to see things more clearly from all angles because you won’t be as blinded by the mess or as willing to see things through the addict’s eyes – a view that often involves entitlement, hopelessness, and believing in the validity of his or her manipulative behaviour. Set your boundaries lovingly and as often as you need to. Be clear about the consequences of violating the boundaries and make sure you follow through, otherwise it’s confusing for the addict and unfair for everyone. Pretending that your boundaries aren’t important will see the addict’s behaviour get worse as your boundaries get thinner. In the end this will only hurt both of you.

  6. You can’t fix them, and it’s important for everyone that you stop trying.

    The addict and what they do are completely beyond your control. They always will be. An addiction is all-consuming and it distorts reality. Know the difference between what you can change (you, the way you think, the things you do) and what you can’t change (anyone else). There will be a strength that comes from this, but believing this will take time, and that’s okay. If you love someone who has an addiction, know that their stopping isn’t just a matter of wanting to. Let go of needing to fix them or change them and release them with love, for your sake and for theirs.

  7. See the reality.

    When fear becomes overwhelming, denial is a really normal way to protect yourself from a painful reality. It’s easier to pretend that everything is okay, but this will only allow the addictive behaviour to bury itself in deeper. Take notice if you are being asked to provide money, emotional resources, time, babysitting – anything more than feels comfortable. Take notice also of the  feeling, however faint, that something isn’t right. Feelings are powerful, and will generally try to alert us when something isn’t right, long before our minds are willing to listen. 

  8. Don’t do things that keep their addiction alive.

    When you love an addict all sorts of boundaries and conventions get blurred. Know the difference between helping and enabling. Helping takes into account the long-term effects, benefits and consequences. Enabling is about providing immediate relief, and overlooks the long-term damage that might come with that short-term relief. Providing money, accommodation, dropping healthy boundaries to accommodate the addict – these are all completely understandable when it comes to looking after someone you love, but with someone who has an addiction, it’s helping to keep the addiction alive. 

    Ordinarily, it’s normal to help out the people we love when they need it, but there’s a difference between helping and enabling. Helping supports the person. Enabling supports the addiction. 

    Be as honest as you can about the impact of your choices. This is so difficult – I know how difficult this is, but when you change what you do, the addict will also have to change what he or she does to accommodate those changes. This will most likely spin you into guilt, but let the addicted one know that when he or she decides to do things differently, you’ll be the first one there and your arms will be open, and that you love them as much as you ever have. You will likely hear that you’re not believed, but this is designed to refuel your enabling behaviour. Receive what they are saying, be saddened by it and feel guilty if you want to – but for their sake, don’t change your decision.

  9. Don’t buy into their view of themselves.

    Addicts will believe with every part of their being that they can’t exist without their addiction. Don’t buy into it. They can be whole without their addiction but they won’t believe it, so you’ll have to believe it enough for both of you. You might have to accept that they aren’t ready to move towards that yet, and that’s okay, but in the meantime don’t actively support their view of themselves as having no option but to surrender fully to their addiction. Every time you do something that supports their addiction, you’re communicating your lack of faith in their capacity to live without it. Let that be an anchor that keeps your boundaries strong. 

  10. When you stand your ground, things might get worse before they get better.

    The more you allow yourself to be manipulated, the more you will be manipulated. When you stand your ground and stop giving in to the manipulation, the maniplulation may get worse before it stops. When something that has always worked stops working, it’s human nature to do it more. Don’t give into to the lying, blaming or guilt-tripping. They may withdraw, rage, become deeply sad or develop pain or illness. They’ll stop when they realise your resolve, but you’ll need to be the first one to decide that what they’re doing won’t work any more.

  11. You and self-love. It’s a necessity. 

    In the same way that it’s the addict’s responsibility to identify their needs and meet them in safe and fulfilling ways, it’s also your responsibility to identify and meet your own. Otherwise you will be drained and damaged – emotionally, physically and spiritually, and that’s not good for anyone.

  12. What are you getting out of it?

    This is such a hard question, and will take an open, brave heart to explore it. Addicts use addictive behaviours to stop from feeling pain. Understandably, the people who love them often use enabling behaviours to also stop from feeling pain. Loving an addict is heartbreaking. Helping the person can be a way to ease your own pain and can feel like a way to extend love to someone you’re desperate to reach. It can also be a way to compensate for the bad feelings you might feel towards the person for the pain they cause you. This is all really normal, but it’s important to explore how you might be unwittingly contributing to the problem. Be honest, and be ready for difficult things to come up. Do it with a trusted person or a counsellor if you need the support. It might be one of the most important things you can do for the addict. Think about what you imagine will happen if you stop doing what you’re doing for them. Then think about what will happen if you don’t. What you’re doing might save the person in the short-term, but the more intense the addictive behaviour, the more destructive the ultimate consequences of that behaviour if it’s allowed to continue. You can’t stop it continuing, but you can stop contributing to it. Be willing to look at what you’re doing with an open heart, and be brave enough to challenge yourself on whatever you might be doing that’s keeping the addiction alive. The easier you make it for them to maintain their addiction, the easier it is for them to maintain their addiction. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.

  13. What changes do you need to make in your own life?

    Focusing on an addict is likely to mean that the focus on your own life has been turned down – a lot. Sometimes, focusing on the addict is a way to avoid the pain of dealing with other issues that have the capacity to hurt you. When you explore this, be kind to yourself, otherwise the temptation will be to continue to blunt the reality. Be brave, and be gentle and rebuild your sense of self, your boundaries and your life. You can’t expect the addict in your life to deal with their issues, heal, and make the immensely brave move towards building a healthy life if you are unwilling to do that for yourself.

  14. Don’t blame the addict.

    The addict might deserve a lot of the blame, but blame will keep you angry, hurt and powerless. Addiction is already heavily steeped in shame. It’s the fuel that started it and it’s the fuel that will keep it going. Be careful you’re not contributing to keeping the shame fire lit.

  15. Be patient.

    Go for progress, not perfection. There will be forward steps and plenty of backward ones too.  Don’t see a backward step as failure. It’s not. Recovery never happens in a neat forward line and backward steps are all part of the process.

  16. Sometimes the only choice is to let go.

    Sometimes all the love in the world isn’t enough. Loving someone with an addiction can tear at the seams of your soul. It can feel that painful. If you’ve never been through it, letting go of someone you love deeply, might seem unfathomable but if you’re nearing that point, you’ll know the desperation and the depth of raw pain that can drive such an impossible decision. If you need to let go, know that this is okay. Sometimes it’s the only option. Letting go of someone doesn’t mean you stop loving them – it never means that. You can still leave the way open if you want to. Even at their most desperate, most ruined, most pitiful point, let them know that you believe in them and that you’ll be there when they’re ready to do something different. This will leave the way open, but will put the responsibility for their healing in their hands, which is the only place for it to be.

And finally …

Let them know that you love them and have always loved them – whether they believe it or not. Saying it is as much for you as it is for them. 

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I have loved an alcoholic for 34 yrs. We married other people and got back together 10 yrs ago. He doesn’t like doctors for obvious reasons. For the last 7 days he is in ICU fighting for his life from emergency surgery to remove an anuerysm that was full of infection. Watching him detox and sitting with his 86 yr old parents watching has been heartbreaking. Please share if anyone has advice on what steps to take when he gets released from the hospital so gin doesn’t win. I lived with him 5.5 yrs and had to move out so after living alone for 3 yrs I just moved in when all of the health decline issues began. Any advice is much appreciated!


Such a great article, it reminds me of how messed up people can be and how selfish they are. The writer and the comments I have read are so sad. How can you truly understand why a person does the things that they do if you have not been in their shoes? Just because a person is an addict doesn’t mean that they are bad or horrible people, I’m not saying that there are none out there. But to say all addicts are the same and the best way to help them is by cutting ties with them because they will just bring you down is a bunch of bull and a copout excuse to not caring. Most people use because of trama they have gone through either in childhood or as an adult, and they are unable to cope with it because they don’t get the help that is needed and then people like you all who take it to the extreme by saying we care but were cutting you off because were all weak minded individuals who can’t say no to an addict and we allowed them to bring us down but instead of being responsible adults we will blame the addict because its easier to do. So just remember next time you have a headache and you pop those little pills in to take away the pain remember you might be an addict. Next time your tiered and drink coffee or an energy drink remember you might just be an addict. All a bunch of judgemental hypocrites that know nothing.

Karen Young

Nick, nobody is saying that addicts are bad people. In fact, if you read the article and the comments properly, you would see completely the opposite. There is deep love and compassion for people who are addicted to substances. It sounds as though you may never have had to support someone you love going through an addiction to the point where it breaks your heart, traumatises you and leaves you bare. The people in these comments have. The only voice passing judgement is yours. You are right – you can never know what somebody is going through until you have stepped in their shoes, yet you judge those who have been through the trauma – and it is trauma – of watching someone they love deal with an addiction. I would caution you against judging those who love people who are addicts and have done everything humanly possibly to support them. At some point, it is up to the addict to get the help they need, not only for themselves, but to end the trauma to everyone in their lives who has been there supporting them and loving them. Your comment is judgemental and small-minded, and lacks compassion and insight into what it is actually like living with an addict. Compassion for an addict doesn’t give you the right to judge those people who have reached the very hard (and extremely brave) point of choosing to no longer enable or support their addiction. Their compassion and their love for the addicts in their lives is no more than yours.

Mager L

I’m an addict for the last 4 months I have been in a relationship with a lady who also is an addict I’ve stopped using and sought help. My desperation lead me to recovery her desperation lead her to the streets because I refuse to buy drugs or condone the drug use she was doing. She will soon be in jail for warrants when the police find her. she’s pregnant and through it all I love her deeply. I don’t know where she is right now or what she’s doing for the drugs but can only think the worst but I still love her there’s a long road up ahead for me and her. so I will take the advice in the article and the next time I talk to her. Tell her how much I love her how much I want to see her get clean and her life become manageable I will be there for her and this child. because I don’t see myself stopping the love I have for her anytime soon. I can only hope and pray that she’s picked up soon and the baby will get a break because I feel like every child deserves a chance to be born healthy. all I can do is pray that she will realize what she’s done to this baby and to me. And she becomes the mother this child needs and the person I need in my life. I havnt tried telling her that I’m here for her no matter but I’m hoping for the best.

Givin' Up

My partner cross addicts from Porn, to sexting, to drugs, to cigarettes, and always video games. His brain is totally wired into the need to escape, and whatever is in his environment he will do. The only one he does in front of me is video games (for obvious reasons). I don’t find a lot of resources, info or support for partners of addicts with severe cross addictions. I have reached my breaking point. And am putting my exit plan together as we speak. It’s so devastating to be put in this position by their addictions, and to feel so powerless against their addictive wiring. His mom is sadly his biggest enabler, and just when it seems he might be seeing the light, he goes to her tells her pieces of whats been happening and she pats him on the back for stopping alcohol (which he still abstains from, and thinks he is sober coz he doesn’t drink, OR she says oh but you have stopped those other things before, so its ok – completely making him stuck in the pattern of he can do it coz he can stop it… but she doesn’t realise he stops one and moves to the other! I told her last night that he doesn’t just stop, he starts the next thing on the rotation list, she has now cut me off and went and sent all my messages I sent about it straight to my partner, which just enabled him more). Devastated 🙁 No support, i’m the only one who is not in denial, and its too tough with everyone else adding to the ease of his addictions. Time to leave. My love definitely cannot help him … like I thought it could.


This is so bizarre to read! My ex had all these problems and his mom was the biggest addict/idiot who encouraged all sorts of lame ideas and ideals.

Video games, porn, drugs, cigarettes! It was a true sh*t show. I’m sure living with his dad and mom who are ex users really weren’t the best influence. Not to mention their other pasttimes were also terrible hobbies. My ex grew up in not a home, but simply a house with figures of authority who probably couldn’t even spell the word! They lacked the introspective judgement they so crucially needed to raise him right. A child who is left alone countless times and is left to witness a verbal (and occasionally physically) abusive marriage filled with lying mothers and beaten down fathers probably isn’t going to develop very well without some serious self dedication on leaving that lifestyle behind.

Unfortunately, that was the only lifestyle he wanted to know. Not much you can do about someone who is not willing to change. Beg and beg, degrade yourself, and maybe you can get him to put a shoe on. Meanwhile, you are already IN THE CAR waiting!! The love just has to be there. The self love and the passionate love between you. Young minded people, and people with addictions(!) are a big fat X for me now. It sounds as though you understand this will not be going very far very fast. I wish I had your intuition. The money and emotional trauma I could have saved myself. Phew.

I just assumed at 20 I wouldn’t have to babysit all three of them. Or at the very least my ex could take care of himself/help me! It was a huge cake that was made of plaster and cancer. Although appealing to the eye, the minute you go to have a piece everything begins to break. The colors are all fake, the foundation crumbles. There is nothing to that cake, but I was a firm believer that plastic shit would magically become sweet fluffy victory… I thought my love could save them all, it was certainly immense and unyielding… But it doesn’t matter how much love you give to anyone if they have no idea how to accept/appreciate/utilize/reciprocate it.

I had a decent head on my shoulders and I’m not saying the whole family is what caused many of my problems, but boy did they sure accelerate em. My ex’s mum was the biggest culprit! Which actually, sadly, says a great deal about the son she raised. That’s just how the dynamic of family relationships go. Donna was an absolute wreck. Constantly bouncing between an undeveloped school girl mentally to a bestfriend/”homie” type deal, and then sometimes, when she wanted complete power, a mother like figure. Continuously went against her own ideals and words. Seemed to always be looking for a fight to pick, or something to extirpate. It was exhausting! Families, and extended families, are allowed to poke and prod, but do remember we all have limitations, and if there is arising dissatisfaction with the family of your lover, I can guarantee you 9/10 times you will be very miserable with the whole situation. I couldn’t get my ex to pick a side. Typically there should be no sides, when it’s a healthy relationship. But I was being abused in many ways that were small and downright hurtful. I learned a man who cannot stand up for me, and who will not stand up for us, or even his own family, is not someone I want to be involved with. I am much happier with someone who shares the same value of family with me. At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, it’s just the two of us and our family. Things should, for the most part, flow. You have plenty of red flags and I’m so proud of you for realizing this. You have a great understanding of your own self-worth. Kudos to you.

Regardless of your age, it is absolutely not your job to be the only one trying to find solutions and resolve the problems. Unfortunately, for me I thought I could just be amazing and thoughtful enough they would see and value the time, effort, and energy I was expending (in great quantities because three addicts is a whole lot of personality and physical mess) in them. But I was naive and thought they all had a little more common sense than they did, lol! Do not put your faith into a man’s family. Or a man, simply because he is filled with kind words, understanding, and fuzzy feelings. The grass is ALWAYS greener, if you’re sitting in dirt…

From personal experience, I suggest a partner that exceeds you in age. I am 23 and have found men within the 26-33 age are typically put together and have a better understanding of the maturity level I seek. Getting back into the world of socializing (after that traumatizing relationship I literally locked myself away for 3 months and wrote a reflective book filled with poems and such explaining and analyzing the devastating affects of that toxic relationship as well as the inevitable heartbreak I had set myself up for.) I realized it is more natural for a gentleman/young adult male to want to give you more attention than the other things that have consumed his life before you entered it.. I quit cigarettes cold turkey just like that because someone was worth it. Make sure he’s showing you you’re worth it, because I can promise you from reading just that snippet, you are!

It’s a wonderful and enlightening experience to be courted by a true gentleman. The heartache comes from the ideas we make up in our head. “He will love me enough, he will realize.. he will understand…maybe I didn’t… maybe if I…”
These preconceived ideas are comfortable and heartwarming, but the person is very interchangeable. It’s a crazy thing, but there’s like millions of hot guys out there! And do you know how many of them would kill for an attentive sweet girl like you and myself? I hadn’t really been on a real date till recently. It was a startling and intoxicating experience. In my 2 and a half years with my ex, not once did he have even half the attentiveness or passion when it came to ME! Love is not a fairy tale, but there are many times where it will feel that way. Don’t let a boy make you think differently. And sex won’t even be a legitimate concern. That is another part of the cat and mouse game we forget. Someone who is genuinely into your character and your well being will wait forever. Sexual attraction is a beautiful thing, but if we’ve got the rest of forever, there’s no reason to rush. That was a hard lesson to learn because my ex was… lacking in that field.

Never again will I waste my time with someone who is unable to communicate, listen, or reciprocate my enormous love, intelligence, or emotional depth. The man I am seeing currently is such a delight to be around, for my soul GROWS when I’m near him and I have a natural happiness seeping from the cracks my ex slowly and painfully chipped into me. I am now aware that the tranquil waters of love are attainable, and it will have the intensity of a hurricane. Rather than it being a fucking hurricane.

And don’t feel as though it’s your fault, or you were too demanding, or whatever excuse and facade your boyfriend says and puts on. It’s the cat and mouse game and we are most certainly the mice. Go have a relationship with someone who doesn’t need fixing, or even if they do, your support will be enough for them to come back to life and be a part of your life, collectively.

A true man, and someone who values you, will not have to be taken care of like a little boy, will not have the overly demanding family that drains (the both) of you, and will need no written instructions on things you like or appreciate. He will pick up, sense, or go out of his way to LEARN whatever he needs to (which will be absolutely everything) because of the love and admiration he has for you.

Alrighty, sorry for that long comment! I just couldn’t believe how tragically similar your story sounded. Everyone deserves a healthy, happy, and committed relationship. They are not a strenuous thing and often you find harmony and real comfort in a true relationship. I can’t stress enough how important it is to wait until Mr. Right comes, because Mr. Right Now is very temporary. Let that man grow up on his own, and if he doesn’t, which is very/more than likely, you’re not missing out on anything except a loser who can’t figure out it to save himself. Cold words, but nonetheless facts.

Good luck sweetie, I am cheering for you and all other ladies that are put in these difficult positions of manchildren and crazy families and overextending of the precious and malleable heart. Your heart is invaluable and people who can’t understand and grasp that are not for you. Save yourself, only he can save himself. xoxo


Thank you for this set of comments (as well as many others I have found tonight online).
1) I noticed things since day 1 when I met him but I ‘discarded” them because he was “charming” plus I was single/lonely.
2) Lies, contradictions, cheating, spiralling out of control and you being negatively affected are part of that “relationship” which in reality is a 3 some on which that VICE (or vices in his case) will always win while you pour your heart, your soul, your mind to “fix” someone when in reality all you can fix is YOU (or truly DECIDE to walk away… I know now.. there is NOTHING you can do … simply leave).
3) You are always in the MIDDLE between that “ADDICTION” and the addict, as a result, you will ALWAYS be the subject to violence (words or physical) and aggression in many ways/forms. You will ALWAYS come 2nd (or 3rd, 4th, depending on how many addictions are in the picture).
4) An Addict sounds convincing because THEY BELIEVE THEIR OWN LIES.
5) Only an expert (or group of experts) might be able to help AFTER the addict decides to move to a better reality, YOU/I (regular human beings) are not CAPABLE to help.. in fact we are enabling them by not leaving. Leaving might help as a “wake up call” and if not, it’s your own time to move to a healthier state of being.

We all deserve happiness, calmness & joy
Staying with an addict brought me fear, lack of stability & unhappiness


My husband of 13 years have been addicted to online gaming. It may sound silly but like any other addiction, it was serious to a point he lost jobs because he couldn’t focus in his work. he was lost in his own world and spent every waking moment (other than work, and eat) raiding, leveling up…. for as long as I can remember starting a month into our marriage. he sought out counseling twice in 13 years. when I was ready to throw in the towel, he quit and delved into another addictive thing. I now know he has a condition. Can’t control his compulsions and obsessions. I’m ready to walk away but he is begging to work it out and doesn’t want to get a divorce because of kids and he grew up in a broken family. I’m not sure what to do except try to get a diagnosis so he can get the help he needs. Having read these feeds, I have compassion for those who walked my path and feel comfort.


Hey all so glad I got hold of this page I’m really on the edge, me and my fiance are almost 4years together and we have been blessed with two beautiful kids and I’m on that point where I just want to end the relationship, my fiance been abusing meth I’m emotionally and spiritual drained broken hearted I just don’t know what do with him any more I really love him but can’t take the lies anymore and and yet he not seeking help from what do you do when kids is involved. .


This has been the most inspiring article I have yet to read.
I have been dealing with my adult daughter whom fell victim to the prescribed opioid addiction turned heroine addiction for almost 2years now all while having the task now of raising her children. It’s been very painful watching her and the children suffer. We have tried everything from inpatient rehab to methadone clinics and all has failed. I have just recently tried cutting ties with her in hopes that she will hit that rock bottom and hopefully make some changes, she begs me for help paying for the methadone clinic which I stopped paying for because after speaking with her counselor I found out she was only going periodically and the most recent drug test revealed opioids, barbiturates, cocaine & marijuana, I believe she was only using the clinic for when she couldn’t get her fix. This has been extremely hard and I just pray I’m doing the right thing by not helping her with the clinic.


My adult sister with two kids is addicted to cocaine as well as is selling pills to support her habit and then some. Actually she just inherited a good bit of money from our mother and can supply herself with whatever she wants, but still sells the pills as it gives her some extra money. Now she is faced with sending her daughter to college and does not know how to budget for it and therefore has not told her daughter she can go. My sister wants that money for herself in her old age, if she gets there and for her habit. I am afraid she might say to her daughter that she cannot go to school, or even worse, that she can and will us her “dealing” skills. Yes she is divorced and my niece lives with her addicted mother. She also has a 14 yr old son, my nephew who lives with his father. My sister displays all the behaviors and mindsets of an addict and it is getting harder and harder to be around her. The cocaine thing started a year ago. It was pot, just before that and all through this, opiate pills. The excuse? Treatment resistant depression, no real will to live, nothing to look forward to, and getting high, made her escape her dreary life. I know all of those are justifications for something that she can really take care of and turn it around if she wants to, but she does not. I live in a different city about 3 hours away and luckily I am not around it. She never has food in the house for her kids, but she does for her dogs. Her dogs and drugs are her priority. The father is not much better. He is a sex addict, narcissist, control freak, ego maniac and workaholic. I would threaten to tell her jerk of a husband about her habit to take away her partial custody of her son, but he is no better and I despise him. I am just so worried for my niece and nephew. They walk on eggshells around my sister and she is prone to all sorts of outbursts as well as excuses of being sick or not feeling well, due to the drugs. It is a no win situation unless she wants to do something. I have my mother’s funeral planned out of state and have made reservations with my sister and her kids to fly there, rent a car together and take a mini vacation, but now I am questioning whether I want to do that at all. Maybe I will just have her have her own car so I do not have to ride with her. Anyway, thank you for letting me vent.


I came across this article right on time. My child’s father,the love of my life is addicted. I noticed things in the beginning of our relationship but turned a blind eye. He comes from pain.he was abondonded while he was at a pivotal moment in his teenage life. When I met him later I discovered he was using pills,weed,alcohol,it wasn’t until later I discovered coke. It wasn’t until 2016 when things hit the fan after our now 4 year old son was born. I started noticing his distance,lies,disappearing acts.well he disappeared for a month,and next thing you know he was arrested. Needless to say I stood by him for his 8 month sentence. He got out and things seemed great. He moved in at my mom’s house with me and things were looking up. I noticed he started adding toxic people back in his life he cut out when we had our first argument after his release. He took classess ordered by the jugde graduated and literally 6 months later things started reverting back to normal. He got kicked out and started staying with a toxic friend,in a toxic environment. He picked back up smoking cigarettes,then weed,and I found out later cocaine again. He fought sbout everything.we need up breaking up for a while,and during that space he really got lost into the drug,sex,lies world. During this time,I took part in my role.and we began to build back life. I never let him claim my son for taxes,and somthing told me to let,him because my taxes were offset by a student loan. We were about to sign a lease for our townhome,and just like that the taxes came back,he never told me he got them,and he dissapered. We took our son to monster jam Sunday night and I haven’t heard from him since. I do know he is back with the toxic crowd. Has people lying God him,he is using everyone. He deactivated all his social media and just left his son and I again. 2 years later. I am hurt devestated and can’t believe he betrayed us yet again .please help me understand. I have been with him for 12 years. I’m so lost at this addiction. Now I don’t know what to say to my son because he loves his dad and asks about him daily.I gate yo lie to my son anymore please help


I’m in a relationships of almost 2 years. Currently dating an addict. These 2 years of my life have been a messy painful journey. When he is sober he is golden. When he is not he is nothing but evil. He has been so hurtful. Everything has been nothing but confusion. Once he starts drinking it leads to drugs which turns into benders lies and manipulations. Thn excuses after excuses. I am his punching bag. When he gets the urge to do drugs. He becomes defensive over nothing and starts fights. He is also very jealous and hypocritical. Controls my life yet he does everything he tells me not to do. I am so tired of it all. I feel I like I’ve been aged with stress depression and anxiety. My life is walking on constant egg shells. I don’t have a social life I can’t see my family. I can’t do anything bc if I do I come home to him either gone getting blasted or him at home absolutely donezo. I have grown to hate being alive. I just don’t know anymore. I am sorry for everyone that is in this situation. I genuinely respect everyone tht is still in a relationship with someone that is dealing with addiction or alcoholism. You are so tough.


my daughter, her husband and my grandson are living with me. my granndson is addicted to dabbing narijuana, he has ruined the room we had fixed up for him because of his acid reflux and vomiting on the carpet as well as not cleaning up the cat box or the carpet. my daughter quit her job as a high school teacher and hasen’t been able to find gainful employmen i am 76 and have had 2 small strokes since december 31st. my husband left because l wouldn;t kick them out. I feel emotionally incapable of doing that, my daugher has been very helpful, cleaning house, shopping, fixing meals, getting my meds sorted doing laundry and feeding the dogs, I don;i know what to do next. I would like them to leave and my husband to come back but I am anxious about my daughter;s ability to support herself and my grandson. I am caught in a trap and would like ome support and feedback


I love this person more than words can say. She has refused to take even a sip of alcohol, because she watched her father destroy their family because of his alcohol addiction. That is, until very recently. She has started drinking, and drinking very heavily. This now has opened the door to her doing cocaine excessively. I have begged and pleaded with her to stop this, as I get phone calls or texts from her, saying that she is scared because her heart feels like it’s going to beat out of her chest. She knows that she is on a self destructive path. It’s in the beginning stages though, but I fear that her addictive personality will not alllow it to stop. I’ve seen friends lose themselves in this over and over again. She knows I’ve even been there too, but thankfully was able to just walk away from it. Being that this is still in the beginning stages, is there ANYTHING I can do or say to help prevent this from escalating? I know it’s the company she keeps, but she refuses to hear that at all.


My husband (who I’ve been with for almost 24 years) is an addict. In his younger years, he was addicted to speed and then cocaine. He was also addicted to alcohol. The substance abuse aspect of his addiction has now ended, but he has become addicted to other things – pornography, another woman, lying about everything, etc etc. His current addiction is to hurt me – not physically, but mentally, blaming me for all of the problems of his life . This has become an addiction that I can no longer tolerate. I cannot remember a day when I didn’t love him, but I can no longer stay with him because this is not living – I am heartbroken that I couldn’t save him from himself.

Karen Young

I wish it was possible to love someone out of an addiction, but it’s not. You can love someone, and not be able to be with them. It sounds as though you have given this relationship everything you could. The growth is his now, and you need to take care of you.


We started as addicts its what brought us together..i sobered up had two children asked for his sobriety for our children..was going great for two or three years..one thing lead to another and he is back into his drug of choice..i tolerate it so i can receive the perks..he kept me comfortable and busy so i wouldnt focus on his addiction..i and used it to my advantage..then fighting gets intense and more frequent although i never had a black eye i was still being treated like i didnt matter..i couldnt understand why..what did i do but let him continue his addiction…i didnt want to be a single parent or think about leaving him for i loved him deeply and i stayed and endured because i believed it couldnt get worse..so wrong…he started a new drug..one i knew had only two ways out death or jail..he is starting to display a lot of anger and hate towards me calling me every name in the book..i become so defeated and heartbroken and stuck i allowed myself to become an addict as well..painful truth i was about to find out is he loved his drug so much it never bothered him that i was willing to distroy myself and children if getting high with him would get me the love i so longed for from him..these thoughts help drive me into a full blown addict within a year..he is threatining to kill me now on a daily basis..im terrified i barely sleep..its affecting my job which i loved and my children..i still feel guilty about what they have or may have witnessed or experienced from two parents who are addicted..he goes to jail im alone for the first time and i feel safe…i continue to abuse drugs even more now im my own boss..i lose my job,vehicle,home,and was too close to abandoning my kids and all i can do is cry..i isolate myself from everyone..im lost..i decide to kick the habit because on the fourth day without my kids i couldnt bare the thought of abandoning them as a mother i couldnt and i didnt..i struggle every minute of the day with making the decision of leaving my 12 year relationship with a man i know loved me at one time and i still love to this day..im a very broken confused and lost person now..i cry every time everyday for his love..he gets out soon and i cant sleep i shake i cant concentrate im so afraid of seeing him i dont know how he will act..i cant think of one happy time..all i remember are the feelings of not taking the opportunity to leave him before it got worse..Damaged is barely enough description of me today..i hope he finds himself and loves himself and stays in recovery..i hope i never have to be put in a situation of working it out..i will dive in head first..but then what if i end up in the exact scary place we were before and what if i dont survive this next round..fear is keeping me from love..im afraid of everything being left alone..not being able to live a normal happy life..its been 7 months and i still pour tears lose sleep and constantly try to remember that we did love each other and theres no way it couldve been onesided..loving an addict was harder than being one or going into recovery… these articles have brought sense to his behaviors but it doesnt take the pain away..i love him enough to let him go..i think i love myself enough to let him go…but still my heart…its permanently damaged…


Dear Nina,
Re-read your comment, read it out loud. Imagine a close friend, or maybe a sister wrote that. What would you tell her to do?
I say, let go and run!


My boyfriend of 4 years, soon to be ex, is an alcoholic. He has been through detox and drank again and drinks neat vodka every opportunity he gets. I have been through everything with him to try and make him stop including locking him in the house. After everything we have been through over the last few years, I have decided I cant bear it anymore and we are splitting up. After not working for 4 months he has just got sober enough to go back to work, he is a very talented artist and has been given an amazing opportunity to work at a great studio. He has only managed to go in 5 days out of 2 weeks so far and is still drinking at every chance. I have asked him to move out which he has said he will but done anything about it. What is the worst is watching this incredibly talented and good person destroy themselves with alcohol. He has so much going for him, but i think he will move out and loose this job and end up on the streets as an alcoholic. It tears me apart so much to watch him do this to himself, I don’t know how to cope with seeing him continually destroy himself.


Hi Becky,
I’ve just read your comment and your situations reminds me of my own. I’m also a Rebecca but I am hundreds of miles away. I just thought I’d check in to see how you are?
My partner is an alchoholic and was doing well managing his life and his drinking for a while but this week he has completely spiralled out of control again and as much as I love him I think it’s time to stop enabling him. I know that if he moves out he will lose his job and end up on the streets (this has happened before but I took him back) and even though I know it’s not my fault, I still feel laden with guilt and can’t bring myself to follow through. I just put up with his behaviour even though it’s wearing me down and I feel exhausted from it all.


So much great information all in one article! It is so refreshing to be reminded that I’m not crazy and that I am not alone in this journey. My 23 year old son has been a drug addict for 10 years. We have done it all, and then some! Today he is in jail, facing a long road of incarceration. For that we are thankful because it means that he is still alive.


Thanks my name is josh and someone I love very much is addicted to pain killers and I’m so lost about what to do this helped me a lot

Karen Young

It’s heartbreaking when someone you love has an addiction that is hurting them. I wish you could live someone out of an addiction but you can’t. It is their growth and they are the only ones who can put things right for themselves.


Thanks for sharing this, I found it most insightful. I recently fell for someone and then too late discovered he is an addict. He’s now in rehab and I have offered support as someone who has been through recovery (I have a spending addiction where his is drugs and alcohol) but I know about the 12 steps and I know about addiction behaviour and the addiction cycle. I have just been hurt because he reached out to someone else to try get them visitation rights and not to me. Sometimes though I see that people shut out those that really care about them or that they really care about because they are embarressed for those people to see them at their worst. Advice would be appreciated. I refuse to enable the behaviour so I have offered support when he is out. But still hurt he never tried to contact me.


Ms. Karen, it was indeed very sad to read about the situation you were put through. You honestly mentioned here how you could not show any empathy for this particular person, after a certain point of time. This is the harsh truth that everyone should realize, that it becomes difficult to love a person who is an addict, year after year, and that this is in no way make them a bad person. I particularly want to stress upon the point that, it is necessary to allow the person to bear a brunt of his/her addiction. Certain boundaries need to be set up, to make the person realize that you are supportive, but only till a point that it helps them to get rid of the addiction. Under no circumstance, should that person be allowed to use your empathy to their advantage.


Reading this was an answer to prayer. It has been such a hard day. I have an adult daughter addicted to drugs. Today I’ve been so sad, depressed, felt like I’m not going to make it through this. I asked God to please help me. I need help now. I acccidently found this article, and know it was an answer prayer. He is a good God.


Thank you for your article. I’ve been struggling with loving a husband with a sex addiction for the last 18 years. The lies, manipulations, and secretiveness have severely damaged me in ways I never even realize. I’ve spent so many years enabling him thinking I was helping him. Everything you said rang true for both of us. After many attempts of getting myself out of the relationship, only to be dragged back by his pleas and my guilt, I have walked away with a clear understanding of what I need, deserve, and want in a relationship. You were so right in that I couldn’t change until it hurt more not to change. But I also still struggle with feelings of love for him. Which is how I found your article. Thank you so much for helping me to reframe my situation. I just didn’t think I would feel this much grief for a man that has hurt me for so long.


I have been with my ex for 3 years. I have known him for 4. He is 20 and I’m 18. I have always been there for him and put my complete and utter trust in him. He has always put himself around the wrong group of friends. They all took pills and did drugs. He always told me that he never did any hard drugs, just smoked marijuana. I trusted him because he was my partner. Recently his very best friend died from mixing pills and alcohol. His heart stopped. I was at school and work while his friend was in the hospital in a medical induced coma. I only visited on the third day when he was pronounced brain dead. He told me that he needed my utter most support and I told him it was hard for me because they shouldn’t have been doing those kinds of things. He broke up with me for good because I wasn’t there at the hospital in the time he needed me the most. I had school and work and I told him if he needed me there then to call and I’d be right there. He replied with an okay, so I felt more pushed away than needed. So right after he broke up with me 4 people confirmed to me that he had been taking pills frequently and has done other forms of drugs. He had been mean to me and I had noticed personality changed months before. I still trusted him though. Every couple of days I would message him and ask how he’s been bacuse his best friend did die and I still loved him. He never replied to any of my texts and made it clear it was over. I feel betrayed that he was using drugs and lying to me. I blocked him from all social media and have not made anymore contact. Will he ever realize I only wanted what was best for him and to care for him? Please help me. I love him so much.


First of all thank you for sharing this.
I have been married for 17 years but for the 7 or 8 years it has been hard my husband and I are alcoholics but I have stopped drinking for 3 years now and it took me basically took my body shutting down and dying and having the doctor come in and say we brought you back along with seeing what my family and friends went through because of it to realize I need to stop. They finally meant more to me than the alcohol. But my husband still drinks. All though he does work as soon as he is off he is totally drunk within an hour and if it’s a Friday he will stay that way pretty much all weekend only to drink pass out wake back up and do it all over again until late Sunday night. He said time and time again he will quit soon but it never happens. I have distanced myself from him some what I sleep in another bedroom and have for 3 years now. At first I felt sorry for him tried to help but it never did. Then I went through a time of sadness and sorrow for him but now I am just very angry and hateful and I am mean when he is drunk. I can’t seem to help it. And I don’t want to be this way it’s not the true me. I get so angry when he had been on-call at work because he will stay sober. But the minute he’s off it’s right back to being drunk. Even when he’s told me it’s going to stop he can’t do it anymore. And that he wants to sleep in the same room with him again. I have even stopped going anywhere with him because of it. No camping, go to friends and families parties. Anything! I think 1 thing that really angers me is he doesn’t even try. I told him he can see his doctor and get medicine to help, I’ll go to counseling with him etc.. But nothing changes he says he loves me but I just don’t see it. I’ve told him that I have thought about leaving but I don’t because I don’t want to burden anyone else. And financially I can’t do it on my own. So what can I do I’m so tired of this battle. I just want the man I married back.

Anonymous friend

Hi Chantal!
I’m a recovering addict myself. And there are things that you should know, and I would really like to help you out. The substance is just a channel for the disease of addiction to manifest it self, not the disease itself (I’m an addict therefore I used, not the other way around) Addicts can be addicted to people, places, activities, circumstances, feelings and emotions. Not just the drinking or the drugging.

1. You need to find an NA meeting in your area as soon as possible you can find that info online. Stopping the substance will not restore sanity and a manageable, healthy lifestyle.

2. Get yourself a sponsor. There a lot of wounds which need to be healed before you can influence or attract others into recovery as well, hence your spouse in this matter. Love yourself first in order for you to he able to love someone else.

3. Have faith and believe in your recovery because it does give you uncountable gifts and a healthy marriage can be one of those amazing gifts. Remember that every process is different, you stopped the substance of alcohol which means there is also hope for your spouse.

4. Be patient it takes time, our addiction didn’t occur overnight neither our recovery. Remember that the disease of addiction can be arrested or controlled like diabetes or hypertension. We have a program and we follow it as best as we can but it will not “cure” addiction.

These have been the suggestions I’ve given to new comers and I really hope it serves you well. Serenity+Courage+Wisdom I wish you many happy 24hrs to come!


Hi. I dated a cocaine addict for over 2 years. He is a 55 year old man. He told me he would “quit” by the end of March 2018 (I knew this was not reality) and then on April 7 he dumped me. He told me he is “just not feeling it anymore, was in love with me but now is not and has not been for a while but didnot want to hurt my feelings.” Wanted to know if we could “still be friends.” I was shocked. All of this


Thanks for your article and also publishing the reply from the addict and his point on communication. I have been dating an addict for 15 months. He has been in rehab clean for a bit than repapsed over Xmas for 2 months. Clean up than relapsed again in may. Went to jail for 6 weeks as a result of trying to again more crack. He came out of jail clean started sober living was great for 3 months than just relapsed again for a week and got kicked out of sober living. I have been lied to, stole from, begged for money, used my vehicles, lived off me for 8 months I loaned him money and he owes me a lot. He is a wonderful man when he is sober but it is horrible when he has used. I am at the breaking point. How many chances do you give and when do I come first. I have enabled for sure and feel like giving up on him but that feels wrong and you don’t do that to someone you love.
How do you know if he will really stay clean.
I have never had any experience with addicts or addition and I have to say I was totally nieve and will never be involved with an addict again


Although the person I love is a gambling addict – you have spoken many of the same feelings I share, especially the level of conflict I feel around not giving up on someone you love.

Like you, I have reached my breaking point and have continued to ask myself how many chances do you give someone? Even if he does get clean (and stay clean), this battle with addiction will be in your lives forever. It never entirely goes away.

I have finally made the decision to remove myself from the toxicity, because I also feel like I will never come first in the relationship and I deserve more than that. He has torn at the seams of my soul, manipulated, emotionally blackmailed and destroyed my ability to trust him. There’s no coming back from that, regardless of how much you love someone.

I really hope you find the strength to recognise your own worth and know that love doesn’t conquer all. Walk away and seek happiness in your own life, I promise you the weight you will feel lifted is entirely worth it.


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