Tips for Living with an Addict (And Not Being an Enabler)

The challenge of living with an addict

It can be hard to know what to do when someone you love is trapped in addiction. On the one hand, it’s an impossibly difficult situation, and it wouldn’t be hard to justify walking away. On the other, as hard as it can be living with an addict, you don’t want to abandon them. What do you do? The answer is, you need to try to help them as much as you feel you are able. Trying to get them into rehab and trying to support them through the challenges of the treatment process can be a wonderful thing. Addicts who have the support of loved ones do far better in achieving sobriety than ones who don’t.

Life with an addict can be tough. It’s easy to make mistakes. These tips can help.

Understand addiction

A scientifically sound understanding of addiction can go a long way helping you deal with every part of the experience of living with an addicted person. Whether you find yourself angered by their unreasonable behavior or their defenses, trying to gain an understanding of how addiction really works can help you deal with it all.

The more you understand addiction, the better you will know how to deal with an addict.

Make sure that you are not an enabler

It isn’t just buying drugs for your loved one or using drugs with them that is considered enabling the behavior. Enabling is possible in a number of subtle ways, as well; many well-meaning people who live with addicts make these mistakes.

An addict may have trouble keeping up with work each day or paying their bills. It’s important to not step in and help them out. An addict shouldn’t be protected from the consequences of their actions; the more clearly they get to see what they do, the more quickly they are likely to agree to treatment.

Attempting to ignore an addict’s bad behavior and pretending that life is normal is another form of enabling behavior to avoid. It makes it easier for the addict to continue with their habit when you attempt to hide their habit from the children, for instance, or attempt to clean up their messes.

Make sure that you don’t enjoy being the victim

Codependency is a well-studied phenomenon. It involves an unhealthy state of mind in which one begins to enjoy one’s victimhood because it comes with special privileges — one gets to feel needed, to feel like a martyr and so on. Not only is codependency an unhealthy state of mind, however, it counts as enabling behavior — since you benefit from the situation, you don’t act against the behavior as strongly as you might.

It’s important to seek therapy for your mental health

Living with an addict can put you through terrible mental stress. It isn’t unusual for people in such situations to end up suffering from long-term depression and anxiety. Guilt and self-blame are other commonly observed phenomena. Whether you feel that your circumstances affect you in these ways for not, it’s important to find therapy. Not only can therapy help you find clarity about your situation at the moment, it can help prevent mental health issues in the future, as well.

Try to protect the children

If there are children in the home, it’s important to protect them as far as you can without actually ending up enabling the addict’s behavior. You may try to avoid arguments when the children are around, for instance. Taking the children into therapy is another way to help when they are living with an addict day to day.

Try to minimize arguing

Arguments with addicts can go very wrong. They can be unnecessarily volatile and unreasonable. It’s important to keep your cool at all times, and not emotionally invest yourself in any argument. This can be an excellent way to preserve your sanity.

Find an interventionist

It can be very difficult for anyone to persuade an addict to seek treatment. How to help an addict who doesn’t want help? Fortunately, there is help available at rehabs. Professional interventionists are trained professionals who specialize in helping addicts understand the need for treatment.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.