Living With a Drug Addict
What should you do if you live with a drug addict? The stress caused by being under the same roof as someone who has a drug addiction is real and affects different family members in different ways. Overall, though, it can negatively impact a household’s finances, state of calm, family roles, and ability to count on the person with the addiction to follow through on what they say they’ll do.
A big part of living with someone addicted to drugs is creating and maintaining strong, healthy boundaries. This might include restricting their access to your money, ceasing all enabling behaviors around their addiction, and ensuring you don’t put yourself in harm’s way when they are high or drug-seeking.
It is also important that you make a point to take care of your own mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing—from personal counseling to regular exercise and time with healthy friends and family, making your health a priority is just as important as helping your loved one get the help they need.
When an important person in your life is struggling with a drug addiction, it can be just about as hard on you as it is on them. You see what they’re dealing with but are unable to help them, and at the same time you deal with the mood swings and other stresses that come from living with an addict. According to the National Institutes on Health, having a substance abuser in the family also impacts the role that different family members play in the household. Have them brought to an exclusive private inpatient or outpatient treatment facility as soon as possible.
Effects of Addiction on the Household
Living with an addict can negatively impact the household in the following ways:
- Disruption to the state of calm
- Disruption to familiar roles
- Introducing an inability to rely on a member of the household
Tips for Living With a Drug Addict
When living with a drug addict, it is easy to become so focused on taking care of them that you forget about yourself. These tips can help you make yourself a priority, while playing a constructive role in trying to prevent their addiction from progressing.
- Restrict their access to your finances. Even if the addict in your household is your spouse, you can restrict their access to your finances. When addicts are looking for money to fund their habit, they often will not take anything else into consideration. They may drain your bank account if it means that they get their fix, and they may need to, as purchasing drugs is incredibly costly. Protect your family by maintaining a bank account they cannot access or you may find that the money for groceries, the mortgage and other essential expenses simply disappears.
- Make time for yourself. You need to make time to focus on yourself. You can’t simply dedicate all of your energy to worrying about the addict. Find things that you enjoy that will take you out of the home and that are just for you. The opportunity to forget about what you’re dealing with at home will do wonders for your stress level.
- Stop supporting the addiction. Often loved ones fall into the cycle of supporting the addiction because they are worried about the fate of their family member or friend if they refuse to. They believe that the addict will suffer tremendously if they don’t have the finances for their next dose so they provide them with money. Or they worry about what their loved one will do in order to get the funds they require. Providing financial support, a roof over the head of the addict or even meals can enable to the addiction, preventing an addict from choosing help.
- Don’t put yourself in unsafe situations. Remember that your loved one is a different person when they are under the influence of drugs. Don’t underestimate what they are capable of doing. Verbal abuse could turn physical, and people they associate with could also pose a threat.
Getting Support as an Addict’s Loved One
As someone affected by a loved one’s addiction, you need support almost as much as they do. In treatment, you will receive the following benefits:
- You will deal with your own emotional issues resulting from the addiction.
- You will learn how to provide effective support to the addict.
- You will learn how to appropriately respond to various situations.
- You will be able to speak with the loved ones of other addicts.