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How do I Take Care of Myself While Living With Someone Addicted to Substances?

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Discovering that a close friend or loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol can be devastating. The first response may be to confront them about it, however, this frequently accomplishes nothing more than pushing them further away and alienating yourself from them.

If you have been able to have logical, sober conversations with them about their addiction and their behavior has not changed, don’t despair. Sometimes it takes time for the reality of the situation to sink in. There are many different options you have for changing the dynamic depending on what is best for you and your family.

The most important thing to remember is the effect of living with someone who has an addiction – realizing that their actions are affecting you as well. You need a safe space to go to when the situation gets to be too much. Take a time-out for yourself so that you can regroup and recover. Keep in mind that you can't control someone else’s life decisions, and trying to force them to change when they are clearly not ready will have repercussions. This is not your fault, and you did not force them to start nor continue to abuse alcohol or drugs.

Try not to use guilt to plead your case for their recovery. Their abuse may have gotten past the point of their ability to control their impulses and inclinations and may not understand why they can't quit. In other words, don’t use the “if you loved me...” approach. If the neurological imbalance is firmly embedded, this tactic will only create resentment when they already have issues.

Ultimately, try not to work harder than the person who needs help. Lead by example in this situation where your behavior and balance can be an inspiration and demonstration of how to not let things get out of control.

If you are finding it difficult to manage on your own or within your family, don’t forget that the support groups are there for you as well. Al-Anon and Narc-Anon welcome the loved ones of those going through addiction issues. You can also reach out to us at Aquila Recovery, and speak to an addiction specialist who can discuss what your options are moving forward. You are not alone.