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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jeren B

i’m so glad i read this blog , its given me a decision concerning my relationship


Wow. Love is unconditional. Im sorry to say thats not love. I know how this is not a popular idea and it always fail to touch the the hearts of non addicts. This is so hard to explain and non will try to explain it. Im tempted to not say that i am an addict and quit but relapses several times. Now thats out in the open im going to lose your trust, i would say most of you. Especially if you are a non addict. However i do understand why and i do not blame you but not for the lack of trying. I started this comment with thr intention on making a solution i remembered people like you lack the ability to listen, and yes you think you are always right and you think you know everything. But i understand why such ignorance. So im giving up and quit.
If that did not sit right, if that makes you feel just a little furious let it all out. I just gave a peek on what an addicts mindset. How did it feel? Now imagine sad for awhile right, that feeling will fade fast when you are with company who supports and believe you regardless if youre wrong or right. But i want you to remember that feeling and nobody to turn to. That hate will exponentially grow. And over the years yoylu find tharte drugs is the only thing you can feel normal again. Now i know you dont agree and its hard to accept its because the way we treat addicts is very unique. Ask a person why he murdered this and that or why he raped or other vicious and petty crime. They are valid and given value. You have to be an addict to understand how destructive when you are stripped of value. Words cant explain it. It is something you cant relate it is very unique. Unfortunately some addicts are more prone to this than others. Depends on how that connection is lost. Teaching a dog mathematics is how this is similar to me making you understand. Your brain will explode and the only conclusion youll get is that i must be high. How is that helping. I do have the answers i wont tell you because i know you wont do it. Go ahead with your methods that never works.

Leslie L

This article says it all. I was looking for a poem, anything that is appropriate to read at my Grandson’s life celebration in a few days. I am trying to find something positive to say with respect to the last half of his life……he just turned 24 when he overdosed on fentanyl. I didn’t find the words I was looking for in this article but it perfectly summed up his life, his dad’s life and my life over the past many years. His Dad and I loved him so very much….he was such a beautiful baby and child. At age 13 or 14 it began to change and, no matter how hard we tried to get him the help he needed, we lost him to the street. Ultimately, we could not even bring him home for Christmas. The last few years we took gifts to him on Christmas Day at a fast-food restaurant in the inner-city. For years and until a few months before he passed, I spent much of my week taking him for medical treatment, funding, haircuts, appointments, to group homes, addiction treatment, mental institutes and so on. I, too, had to stop giving him money, even $10 as I knew the potential for him using MY money to buy the drugs that would kill him was extremely possible. I realized that with all the sadness and worry, I couldn’t live with the guilt of contributing to his death. While I won’t be using any of this article at his celebration, I was overwhelmed reading it for it was ‘our’ story. I feel so sad for all who are still going through it with their loved ones. In some small way, I am glad his pain is over for he lived a life of hell. Yet I still wonder if there was something we could have done that would have brought him back in the fold.


I probably need to find some kind of support group. I, too, am in love with an addict. Engaged to marry one, actually. Up the point when I accepted his ring I knew many, many things were very, very wrong but like alot of people, I was just so happy an excited to be loved that much. He concealed his addiction successfully up until the point that we moved in together. Now he lies about it, steals from me (and I’m financially vulnerable), never takes me out but goes out all the time with his drug addict friends, and generally treats me very much like his house cat. I’ll never stop caring for the person I feel in love with but this new person would have been DOA with me. I’m peacefully and finally beginning to fear that after 8 long years of wasted time, I need to start thinking about changing up my end game. He constantly puts himself first, and I’m sure I’ve improved the quality of his life dramatically. I need a partner, not deadweight.


I started thinking about my future with my drug addict alcoholic boyfriend after a year and was terrified. Mine always chose his drug addict friends over me too. How sad is that? Like you said you improved his live dramatically.. what did he do for you? I keep asking myself that question over and over. I’m terrified of the realization.

Ellie D

Thank you for pointing out that you should make sure and love the person with an addiction. My husband and I are trying to get my sister treatment for her drug addiction. I’ll have to do some research and find the best recovery area for her.


This article is very enlightening, and heartbreaking. I am in love with someone who has been an addict for most of his life, and I didn’t know it because we are in a long-distance relationship. I had to break up with him and this smashed my heart to pieces, and then we started talking again and he showed me that he was sober and his life was different. We met again and a relapse happened, in a way that made me and my family heartbroken, hurt and deeply sad. He realizes what happened and told me he quit everything, but I can’t know for sure because of the distance, and the trust has been broken twice. He wants to completely turn his life around after this, and start fresh. I really hope it’s true, and that there is hope of healing. I love him so much, and don’t know what to do

joann trinkaus

hi..thank you for writing this…my son is 34 and an alcoholic…severe. he has been homeless since oct 20, 2018. I am so sad, he also has a TBI from Dec 2015. which is because of alcohol. I am trying so hard to not enable him anymore. he has been in jail 4 times since homeless and about 10 times to the hospital. I live 4 hours away and I have not gone to see him. I hate that he sleeps outside in the cold. but nothing seems to get hi. he keeps saying hes going to get a place and a job. he also has been beaten up and people step from him. its so devastating. I feel like im just waiting and praying so much. I know god is in control. the one thing I wonder is I get his disability money…because of his TBI he is permanently disabled. and I do give it to him. is that wrong…it is his money.also I worry if he can truly make rational decisions. so confused. I would do anything…even change places with him….it is so painful.


I am battling a challenge on what’s best for me and my teenage daughter as I have been trying to remain a supporter to my partner for 8 years. I have been through so much pain, disappointment, guilt, depression all kinds of feelings do to addiction. I was hoping someone may have some advice for me. I feel like the best thing to do is walk away but then I feel so lost and depressed it’s been a terrible struggle, I have lost friends, family and isolation.i have lost myself in ways I can’t explain . My partner has said many times his they want a better life and acknowledge the problem but don’t seem sincere to me about changing. is it even possible to be with an addict and be happy. Please all supportive comments are welcomed


I met and fell in love with a woman early this year.After about 4 months I found out she had a drug problem. She has thrown me out of her life more times than I would count. She has gone into rehab 3 times in the last few month’s. She calls me back again and again. Each time we get closer and closer. She will always find a reason to leave me . She is gone again, has blocked her phone so I can’t call ,they won’t let me into the bar she went back to working at. There are times when she would look into my eyes and say thank you for being here for me. This is the hardest thing that I have ever gone through. I know that she is going through her own hell. I really don’t think I can just walk away. I don’t know what to do.


Absolutely the best article I have read in a while. I am currently dealing with an active addict my husband whom I love so much and this article has given me hope and truths and new faith. I am a strong believer of boundaries set with love. I will for now not give up. My husband is in strong denial and I will keep my boundaries, with love.
Thank you for this eye opener of an article. Well written, honest and pure. This is the way it is. All the best of luck and the biggest strength for anyone dealing with a loved one that is addicted. Our strength will be blessed one day, in a good way or a bad way, we tried!

Christina K

I was doing a Google search to find a support group for people in love with an addict. I came across this article. I have to agree with some of the others; this is by far the best article on this subject I have ever seen. And in the past 6 years I have seen many articles. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a support group. I’m no longer with him, but I’m still so hurt , and I still love him so much . I feel like I’m addicted to him at this point . So if there’s anyone out there that knows of a support group for spouses in relationships with addicts do please send me a message. Thank you so much for this post!

Beth P

Christina K, I came her looking for the same! I need help, support for people who have lost loved ones to someone else’s addiction.
My daughter is in love with a longtime meth and heroin addict. She won’t listen to anyone about the slim chance she has of saving him.
I wish she’d read this article! I had to ask her to move out in order to save myself from the drama and hopefully be able to help her when he drains her of everything or turns her into an addict as well. She 21 and so naive and full of unrealistic hope for her first love …my heart is broken and I am exhausted from worry and trying to reach her.


Can anyone help? I was in a a very serious relationship with my girlfriend for almost two years. She’s gone now. Everyday I think about her. She is passing time in a sober living home where she’s now block me from her life. Even though I’m not an addict,,, I never provided her with illegal drugs nor do I condone that behavior and she knows it. She has made me feel as if I’m a trigger?? That I’m to blame. I talk to her three weeks ago. I barely knew her.., I know she is getting away with either drinking… using or both… this all started late in July when she ran out one night on a overnight we had together… i found out next am she had stuck a needle in her neck. I did inform her house manager of what happened. They let her back in and I haven’t see. Her since except for small glimpses on social media. This has devastated me… why did she turn this on me?? Thank u… matt. Everyone has warned me she will be back at some point. The only thing I can figure is that when she got her phone back in late August… she heard the change in my voice that I couldn’t tolerate this anymore…. I have been trying to untangle this for a couple months now. Your knowledge is very welcome to me!! God bless matt


I’m in the exact same boat! I became addicted to helping my ex and even though we aren’t together now, I am incredibly hurt. He was my very best friend.

Angela S

I am still with the addict and finally told him yesterday that as soon as our daughter finishes school, I am leaving. I feel for you my friend because I know that this will be the hardest thing I have ever had to do. We’ve been married 14 years and I will always love him, but I just can’t do it anymore.

Christian R.

I’m not sure if you still respond to these, but this helps. I wanted to help because I’m a teenage male who has tried to help my girlfriend recover in a situation where she really needs it. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart


Well written article Karen – with very useful information. I also came to this article by fate — I’m an addiction counselor looking for some different resources for a family that is struggling with an intervention gone wrong just yesterday. They are now facing the difficult follow through of the consequences that they wrote about and the painful realization that it is out of their control. The pain and devastation is real!


Honestly the most true, on-point thing I’ve read about loving an addict. I’ve been in a relationship with an addict for eight years and have read everything I can get my hands on. Often I feel a disconnection in advice as far as what is best for the addict and what is best for you – this article weds the two in a very relatable way, and came to me at the perfect time. I’m sad but know what I need to do. I can’t thank you enough and hope this helps others too.


Broke my heart reading the article, it felt like someone was talking about my life. I’m dealing with my boyfriend’s addiction and I’m falling into pieces. I wanted to do so much but realized this is not my battle and it’s affecting me while he don’t even realize it. I can’t talk to anyone I barely have friends anymore. I need to move away from him before it affects the rest of my family. I even thought about killing myself cus this is too much to handle. Been severely depress to the point I was on a leave of absence cus they noticed at work. I need to move out but we have no more money anymore cus of his spending. I have 2 kids smart enough to realize soon that something is happening. He barely take them to school. He is not who n how he was before. I’m scared of what can happen if I leave or when I leave cus my mind says I really have to. I’m sorry I got to say all this cus I haven’t been able to be open about this to anyone.

Jamilah J

I’m in the same situation with husband of 20 years in a relationship and 2 years of marriage and 2 kids, im really drained from it all today I will leave the marriage with just my kids, he can have it all. All I can say is im giving it to God.


Wow. This is the best article I have read on loving an addict. My husband recently left me, he has a cannabis addiction & is a functioning alcoholic. As we have a young child I have had to put some firm boundaries in place re access. This has felt so uncomfortable as I know my husband loves his child & I want them to have a relationship. We also have a teenager & I have stopped my husband from doing pickups from various activities as he drug drives. This is something I had previously allowed. So I can totally relate to this article. I feel like I am doing tough love & the decisions I am making will force my husband to face up to his addiction. I feel so guilty all the time but after reading this I realise I am making good decisions based on loving an addict. Obviously from hubbies point of view I am using the children against him. I’m not, I’m just not allowing myself to be manipulated anymore.


After reading the article,,I have made a life changing decision,,my daughter is in detox for 7th time this year. I know at this point I have to let go and not allow her back into our home,,, The pain saddness and anger has destroyed our relationship,,,Am I right to stand strong and not communicate when she is discharged,,,she is in denial of needing long-term rehab,,, My heart is broken and I’m scared this addiction is going to Win,,,

Karen Young

It sounds as though you have worked so hard to support your daughter. Speak to the professionals at her detox centre. They will help to guide you through what will be best for you and your daughter.


Wow. All the comments and the article is so true. That’s exactly what I’m going thru right now. I have been so consumed in trying to get him to quit that I’m literally going crazy. I’m holding on to the person I know he was or can be. He’s not that person at all. I find myself taking down on him and call him names. We are completely disrespectful to each other. I feel if I kick him out for good what would happen would he get worse would he even care and those are my biggest fears. Thanks for this. I cried reading all this. Im lost n don’t know what to do anymore.


There are a ton of articles about this subject but none that are “on point” as this one. Fate and an open heart brought me to see and read this today… Thank you

Phillip T

Great post. This is a hard subject and it is sometimes hard to see an addiction. I was with my girlfriend for 5 years and she hid her addiction from me for 3 1/2 years. I would notice small changes or things missing but it was never anything I found alarming. Turns out she was in serious need of help and it was something I never noticed, luckily she received the help she needed and it happy and healthy once again. Great post, I’ll be reading more!

Karen Young

Thanks Phillip. You are so right – it is very difficult for everyone involved, but certainly not a hopeless one. Thank you for sharing your story.


Excellent Article, my life….. as I grew-up with an alcoholic step-father and my brother is an addict. What it has done to my family is everything described in this article.


As soon as I started reading this the tears started, again. Today I had to tell my adult addict son that he had to leave my home as I cannot take it anymore. I had to because this addition is either going to kill him or it will kill me with the worry, the guilt, the anger. I almost wish that it would just get me so I don’t have to watch him. I’m exhausted and I hate myself – just like him.

Lucy S

I am nearing this point with my son as well. When he is sober he says I love you, I’m sorry I f’ed up again etc. When he’s high he’s not home, sometimes for days and the worrying and heartache cause me many nights of insomnia. I grew up in a house with an addict and a co-dependent mother and my one hope for my life was that I would never have to deal with that again. So what happens to me? I get married to a wonderful man, both of us have a no addiction problems, but we have a child that does instead. I ask myself why this happened to me again all the time with no successful answer. I think what I’m supposed to be learning is that I need to take care of myself and stop being codependent upon the happiness of others around me. As a child I learned that if others around me were happy, I didn’t have to deal with any negativity and therefore I could be happy. I know that I need to take the focus off other people and put it directly on myself. Easier said than done. It’s a tough road to be sure!


Melissa….not sure what your circumstances are presently as you wrote this 2 months ago. Just wanted to offer you support and tell you that you’re doing the right thing. Addiction is just plain crappy but you have to save yourself so you can be whole and healthy and sane when he’s ready! Blessings to you and your family!

Beth P

Hi Melissa. I am the mom of a young adult daughter, also named Melissa, who I had to “kick out” today. I am beside myself with grief. She isn’t and addict. She is in love with one. He is nowhere close to recovery and will either drain her of everything she has going for her or entice her into addiction as well. I cannot have her in my home, because she has been lying and sneaking him in and they have even begun asking which items they might sell for “gas money”. I’m sorry for you. I’m angry and scared and I don’t know how I will survive this. Thank you for your post,


I have an adult son that is an addict and an alcoholic. He has lost everything. I had to stop two months ago giving him money. I’m sure some of it was used to buy drugs and alcohol He was in rehab for a week and said he was good. Came home, went to meetings, got a job. This was in April of this year. His son came to visit from out of state and he quit the meetings. He is now on his sixth place to live since he has come back. He keeps saying he is fine. I started Al-snon last week and will continue to go. It was either do that or go to counseling. I was on the verge of a breakdown. I, myself suffer from high anxiety, depression and insomina. I wlll try to work on me for the time being. I know God is in control and things are done in His time, not ours, but we sure can’t stand to wait when someone we love are killing themselves.


I felt alone!! Like no one would understand… my 20 year relationship ended to addiction! I couldn’t let go! I had to save him! He lost EVERYTHING to addiction, he became homeless and I became HOPELESS!! I faught for his life for a year not realizing I was dying in the process! I can’t help but feel like something is wrong with me? Like I failed? – I honestly think I died inside!! It got so bad at the end that I had no choice but to make a police report! He was going to kill me or die in the streets!! I finally excepted/realized THERE WAS NOTHING I COULD DO!!! I had no choice but to let go…
I was done getting abused! Mentally- emotionally- and physically!! I’m destroyed.. I’ll never be the same… he’s incarcerated now and the sad truth is this is the only time in a year where I’m not worried.. I’m a single Mother now after 20 year with this Man.. Addiction is a loose – loose situation..

Tam S

To the author of that article…you helped me deeply. You put all truth on paper and it took all of the hurt from my son’s addiction and helped me refocus. I pray your article will be printed in a pamphlet and mailed out. Just like cancer, we are all dealing with a loved one with addiction. Thank you for taking the time to write the article.


I can relate to this so so much. Do you think if i show this to my partner hed get an understanding about ehats going on because i think if he did read itd be like just reading about his own behaviour and actions ect. And if so when would be the best time to let him read it ( or read it together) cause i think it mght make him a bit clear on the damadge he is really causing us? And wiuld it be okay to let him read it while he is high? Or not… i ony ask because he provbly would jot read it if he wasnt or just think its some sort of sick joke. But if he was he vould possibly get some sort of understanding and thing omg i have been doing all of those things or would it just be a waste of time if he is high reading it and either agrees to all or disagrees to all? I do think if he does read he will definentley have his eyes a little more open into whats happening between us instead of just my own “stupid opinion” on things. Im just unsure


To the post on August 13th and to anyone that loves an addict. You have my sympathies. It’s about as difficult a road you can hope to walk. I’m an addict and I’m telling you now that you can’t save me. You can’t make me understand. And you’ll never know how much turmoil I carry from watching myself take advantage of those I love. The closest you can come to saving me is by saving yourself. Unlike the addict, the codependent or coaddict never has a choice. It’s not fair that many of you are as sick as your addicted loved one, sometimes sicker. You’re right to feel outrage. But you need just as much help as the addict. That sucks huh? It’s the nature of disease. It affects us all. I’ll beg forgiveness. I’ll swear to change. I’ll cry and plead. I’ll blame everyone including the one who helped me most and I’ll apologize for that and do it again. This isn’t because I hate you. It’s because I hate myself. I let this disease define me and I can’t accept that. Your addicts very likely love you very much, despite their ability to show it. You need to show it to yourself first. Don’t find your value in yourself from anyone but you. An addict is the absolute worst to lend your self worth to. Get the help you need and know that they don’t want this either and help is there if they need it. But we all have to take that first step and admit it. SO DO YOU. If they aren’t there yet, you can’t afford to wait for them. Our addicted mind delights in opportunity to exploit. Don’t give it to us. We’ll just end up hating ourselves even more for having screwed you over. Provided we ever get healthy enough to recognize that. I’m here to confirm that loving an addict is no joke. Don’t forget to seek your own help first then desire what place the addict has in your life. And know that we’re a chaotic mess inside and none of our catastrophe is meant to hurt you. We simply have no control until we start making some changes we can control. It’s the exact same for you. May this burden not take you because you deserve happiness. This isn’t your fault. But letting yourself stay in it is.
I relapsed today after 4 months. You’re the first ones I admitted this to because I’m terrified to let everyone down. I can’t stand feeling like this. I can’t stand hurting everyone I love. Nobody hates me more than I hate myself for this. It might not show but we addicts suffer a great deal and no matter how many times we say sorry and then completely do it again, we ARE sorry.


Did it help?
I’m debating in my mind to show my addicted one but I wonder if they’ll just manipulate more or say this doesn’t apply to them cause of this or that…more excuses

Jill J

Wow this come right on time I just put my son, girlfriend out with 2 grandchildren 2 and 6 🙁 my heart hurts for my grandchildren. CPS has been involved for sometime order of protections ext. I can’t help them as much as I tried and tried to fix for my grandchildren. I’m hurting so bad but had to let go as I’m losing it. They would leave and leave kids for days where it been affecting my life, work. Just plain sanity, I think today I realized that I’m hurting my grandchildren more by trying to fix it for them. They are so little and helpless, so tired of the neglect they face daily. Today I had to let go, and that don’t mean I don’t care or I don’t love them 🙁 it simply means I can’t fix it for them and I’m so sorry 🙁


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Hey Warrior - A book about anxiety in children.

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Our kids are going to make bad decisions. Hopefull Our kids are going to make bad decisions. Hopefully they’ll make plenty - it’s one of the ways they’ll learn and grow. We won’t always be able to love them out of a bad decision, but we want to be the ones they come to when the mess unfolds. 
When they get it really wrong, they’ll know it. They’ll also know exactly what we think. Of course we’ll be tempted to remind them over and over of what they’ve done and the fallout from that, but it will be useless. There is no new wisdom in telling them ‘I told you so’, and it also runs the risk of switching them off to our influence and guidance at a time they need it most. 
There will be wisdom in the mess for sure, and the best way to foster the discovery is to make a safe space for this to happen - and there is no safer space than in their connection with you. 
When we prioritise connection above lectures, criticism, or judgement, we clear the path for self-reflection. This is where the magic happens. When they feel safe with us, and free from shame or disconnection, we have enormous power to facilitate growth - ‘Can you tell me what happened? I know you’re a great kid and I’m wondering what made this feel like a good decision? What can you do differently next time? I know you didn’t mean for this to happen but it has, and I’m wondering how you might put things right? Do you need my help with that?’ When we strip it back to bare, discipline was always meant to be about teaching, and this will never happen when there is shame or when they feel disconnected from us. You are their everything. They don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to disappoint you - but they will, lots of times. 
With every one of their bad decisions is an opportunity to guide them towards growth, but only if we keep them close and hold their hearts gently amidst the breakage. When we keep their hearts open to us, they will open their minds and their mouths too. They will talk and they will listen, and they will know that even when their behaviour is ‘questionable’, they are our everything too.

Our kids are going to make bad decisions. Hopefully they’ll make plenty - it’s one of the ways they’ll learn and grow. We won’t always be able to love them out of a bad decision, but we want to be the ones they come to when the mess unfolds.
When they get it really wrong, they’ll know it. They’ll also know exactly what we think. Of course we’ll be tempted to remind them over and over of what they’ve done and the fallout from that, but it will be useless. There is no new wisdom in telling them ‘I told you so’, and it also runs the risk of switching them off to our influence and guidance at a time they need it most.
There will be wisdom in the mess for sure, and the best way to foster the discovery is to make a safe space for this to happen - and there is no safer space than in their connection with you.
When we prioritise connection above lectures, criticism, or judgement, we clear the path for self-reflection. This is where the magic happens. When they feel safe with us, and free from shame or disconnection, we have enormous power to facilitate growth - ‘Can you tell me what happened? I know you’re a great kid and I’m wondering what made this feel like a good decision? What can you do differently next time? I know you didn’t mean for this to happen but it has, and I’m wondering how you might put things right? Do you need my help with that?’ When we strip it back to bare, discipline was always meant to be about teaching, and this will never happen when there is shame or when they feel disconnected from us. You are their everything. They don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to disappoint you - but they will, lots of times.
With every one of their bad decisions is an opportunity to guide them towards growth, but only if we keep them close and hold their hearts gently amidst the breakage. When we keep their hearts open to us, they will open their minds and their mouths too. They will talk and they will listen, and they will know that even when their behaviour is ‘questionable’, they are our everything too.