7 Survival Tips for Cohabitating With an Addiction Sufferer

Living with an addict creates feelings of resentment and betrayal that are hard to get past—and try as one might, it’s impossible to love, threaten, or cajole someone into sobriety. Here, we offer seven survival tips for those living with or married to someone with an addiction.

Living with an addict creates feelings of resentment and betrayal that are hard to get past—and try as one might, it’s impossible to love, threaten, or cajole someone into sobriety. Here, we offer seven survival tips for those living with or married to someone with an addiction.

Help Yourself

It’s impossible to care for others without taking care of yourself. Living with an addict is all-consuming, but support groups and therapists can offer valuable support to spouses during the drug detox process. In these settings, you’ll learn how to set healthy boundaries and avoid enabling a partner’s poor choices. Trained professionals help spouses and partners develop resilience and communicate effectively.

Learn About Addiction and Its Effects

Understanding the reasons for addiction can help a suffering spouse be more compassionate. When we communicate with empathy, we get the results we seek. Substance abuse is a neurological disorder, and it’s impossible to ‘just quit’. Those with anxiety, depression, and other co-occurring illnesses often self-medicate with substances, entering a vicious cycle. While there’s no excuse for substance abuse, learning the reasons behind it can be beneficial.

Detach Lovingly and Care From a Distance

In addiction groups for families, loving detachment is a common theme. It involves the realization that it’s impossible to control the person and their addiction, and it means practicing self-care even when they don’t care for themselves. By detaching lovingly, you’ll resolve issues such as codependency and focus on your well-being.

Don’t Play the Blame Game

If you’re living with an addict, blame may be an unfortunate part of life. It’s easy to blame them for putting themselves in such a position, and they often blame their spouse or partner for driving them to abuse substances. Addiction treatment programs address shame, blame, resentment, and other issues that couples often encounter.

Set Boundaries and Enforce Them

It can be hard to set limits, and enforcement is even more difficult. Those with alcohol and drug use disorders tend to test boundaries, as addiction rewires the brain. If the addict tests your boundaries—and they will—consequences must be enforced. Cohabiting with an addict requires consistency and clarity.

Avoid Isolation and Surround Yourself With Support

Living with an addict can make the world feel smaller, as your life revolves around their condition. It can be easy to avoid family, friends, and social interaction, and it takes a lot of energy to talk about addiction. While it’s instinctual to isolate yourself when living with an addict, it’s better to seek support from others who are on a similar path.

Hold an Intervention With Family and Friends

An intervention may be just the wake-up call your partner needs. While hearing from friends and family can be motivational, interventions are more effective when headed up by professionals. Experts can answer questions about rehab, recommend programs, and steer the conversation while ensuring honest, respectful communication.

Bonus Tip: Know When to Say When

No one goes into a committed relationship with the expectation that it will fail, and no one plans to marry a drug user. Substance use disorders don’t have to be a deal-breaker, but they’re sometimes intolerable. A mental health and addiction specialist can guide your loved one into rehab and help you decide how to move forward.

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