Saturday April 19th 2014

How to let go of an addict

Letting go of an addict can seem like a huge task. It helps to break it down into smaller steps, and to make steady progress towards the life you want. Here, we review practical tips and suggestions for how to let go of an addict. Then, we invite you to share more about your situation in the comments section below. We try to respond to all comments personally and promptly!

The concepts of Al-Anon

Six years before I started to consider leaving my addict partner, he had a major relapse and disappeared for the weekend. I stepped into the room of an Al-Anon meeting. I went, half-hearted, because I thought it was something I should do. I learned the terms,“let go and let God,” and “detachment,” in those meetings but I wasn’t ready to do that. I thought if I let go that I would be giving up on him. When my husband would use, I went to meetings to get away from my problems. After a few months, I stopped going.

Years later, when things were spiraling out of control in my marriage, I started to go again. I was desperately looking for answers. I saw the same people, some still living with the addict. Al-Anon teaches that you can emotionally detach from an addict while still being with them physically if they are actively using. I would never be able to accept a life with my husband if I was in recovery, and he was not. I wanted to be with him but refused to continue living with him while he was actively using.

The concepts and approaches discussed in Al-Anon were enlightening. They helped me realize that I had to put the focus on me. Even with this new refreshing insight, I felt a disconnectin the meetings. Though I realized it was not for me, I was still able to take what I needed from those rooms. I forced myself to get up and leave my husband and make a new life for myself and my daughter.  I needed to start treating codependency and behaviors associated with it.

Letting go of an addict starts by finding help

Each co-addict will find their own journey in the recovery process—some will utilize Al-Anon, psychotherapy, the support of family and friends, uncover strength, or sometimes the addict leaves and gives them no choice but to move on. Others will lose their homes, their savings, and go into debt before being able to walk through the door of recovery. Recovery is a journey—the following are a few skills to help start letting go of the addict and bring you back to center.

Techniques for letting go of the addict

Break things into small steps. No one expects for this to happen all at once. Create small, doable ways, to start taking your focus off of the addict. Here are some practical tips and suggestions for how you can start doing this:

1. Before contemplating separating yourself emotionally or physically from the addict, find a support network. This can be a community group, friends, family members or anyone who is aware of your situation and will be there to help support you. Pick a group or someone who inspires you. When you leave a conversation with your support of choice you should feel better, less afraid and more motivated.

2. Create a list, mentally, or an actual list of actions you know you need to change. Pick things that will stop you from becoming engulfed in what the addict is doing wrong. For example, the next time the addict is out “using,” do not call them, instead talk to your support person and refrain from trying to get them home or get them help.

3. Every time you slip up on your list, do not beat yourself up. Self-love and care is something you need more than ever. If you had it to begin with, things may have not progressed to this point.

4. Find activities that you enjoy which don’t involve the addict. Force yourself to start doing them! Take a walk, breathe deeply, take a bath,read a novel, see a movie, or anything you used to enjoy before your life became unmanageable.

5. Walk Away! Instead of arguing with the addict, force yourself to leave an unhealthy discussion you know will only escalate and get you upset.

6. Visualize the life you want and the life you can have if addiction was not part of it. Write it down and say it to yourself every day. Every single day when you get out of bed.

You may feel like a fraud at first, but slowly, these actions will give you an emotional detachment you didn’t think you could have. You will actually feel less affected and consumed by what the addict is doing. In the beginning, this may be forced, but when you find joy or can culminate a genuine laugh again,you are on the road to letting go.

Letting go of an addict: questions and situations

If you’re struggling at the moment in your life with an addict, you are not alone! Please leave us your questions or need for help in the comments section below. We do our best to support you and will answer you personally and promptly.

Photo credit: thisbedistoosmall

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7 Responses to “How to let go of an addict
Candice
9:30 am July 17th, 2013

Hi,

I’m 30 years old, with a 9 year old daughter, a nice home, a cute dog and cat and a 35 year old addict boyfriend.

My life is quite peachy, and has been. We are a sweet family.

There are situations, like last year my boyfriend went to jail for selling things that did not belong to him over a period of a year.
I knew he had sold things that did belong to him, but had know idea he was stealing.

He has been in and out of therapy. Rehabs. He is on Suboxone and alzam and an anti depressant. He still uses as far as I know about every 2 weeks. He is a heroin addict. He smokes it. But also as far as I know has used cat and mandrax since being in jail.

Over the last month he pawned my camera, but got it back after I found out. and my bicycle was stolen. But may not have been him.

When he uses, I make him sleep on the couch, I don’t cook for him, I take all his cards and money and I pretty much let his family know and give him a hard time.
I know it is ridiculous.

But he stops for a while then.

His mom is definitely an enabler, she sends him a load of money every week. She knows he has a problem. She also pays for his meds.

Am I an enabler?

We live quite comfortably. I work and we go half with everything to do with the house and living.

I like to think my daughter is not affected?
She has a good life and has routine and is not subjected to his nonsense. She does well at school, and has friends, she is healthy. She is beautiful.

What am I suppose to do?
He refuses NA or rehab.

It breaks my heart. I don’t know how to make it work.
Sometimes I think, it ok, ill except that he uses drugs, But no drugs in the house. It can be controlled somehow.
But then the stealing and lying doesn’t work well with that.
He is so nice, sincere, caring, affectionate, strong, but can be quite a arrogant shit when he’s using, and he looks terrible.

If push comes to shove I will kick him out, or move.

People say something drastic will happen before I do that. Like a accident with my daughter.

Anyway, I guess my first question is, why am I still trying to deal with this?
And second, how could I fix it?
And third how do you live with yourself after your love has hung himself or disappeared forever out of your life?
Is there a way to manage this situation?

Thanks
Candice

Amanda
11:19 am July 17th, 2013

Candice,

It is very likely you will not take my advice. You will be ready to walk away from your boyfriend when you are ready and no sooner, and therefore I write about my story and wrote my book Hope Street, to give others in our situation Hope, a way to see how great life can be without addiction, and not just advice.

I was you, young mother with a daughter, living with an addict. I can promise you one thing, leaving him will be hard, love gets in the way of letting go, but a life without him is better in more ways than you can imagine. He is not going to clean up while living with you, he has no boundaries if he continues to get high, come home and be with both of you despite what he has done. Your daughter may not know exactly what is going on but my daughter is now 9 and they know a lot more than they let on. Do you want her to think this is what a normal father figure is? What would you tell her if she were dating someone like your boyfriend? And if the answer is you would not want her to be with someone like that, then why do you stay?

For a moment imagine a man that comes home every day and spends quality time with you and your child, loves you, respects you and when he says he is going out to the store, he does what he says. Imagine a man that is there for you when you need him and someone you don’t have to take care of or throw on the couch to sleep off his drugs. Imagine even living with your daughter and cute dog and no man and living in a house of peace. I promise you, right now you are just used to living like this but it is not peachy and it cannot be a good example for your child.
At 5 years old I took my child to therapy and found out she knew a lot more than I thought she did and that is why I wrote my book, for her, to show her that I was strong enough to leave and to give her a happy, normal life. I thought living with my husband/addict was normal, we had great times, he was so loving to me, he gave me everything, but what I realized was how could I be happy when every few weeks I was dealing with relapses, strange phone calls, finding pills in my home and much more. I couldn’t and until I physically got up and walked away I could not see how great my life could be on my own terms and not on an addict’s terms.

There are many different kinds of enablers, even if you don’t accept his behavior and put him on the couch, by not leaving him, you ARE accepting his behavior. You have to be strong enough to leave and care enough about yourself to want more for you. You deserve not to be living with this. I heard people tell me this 100X with my husband and I didn’t really hear it and I made excuses and then I stopped talking to those people, but when if finally set in that this was no way to live, a whole new world opened up to me as it will for you.
Good Luck.
Best,
Amanda

Ursula
10:38 pm July 19th, 2013

Hi, That’s realy taugh what you goin through, but I have respect of you that you showing your boundarys when he was using, don’t cook for him, tell that to all his family wow that’s good!! But don’t listen to other people, with that comment your daughter need to have an accident before you kick him out. You know yourself in your Heart when its the right time to do so.!! I wish you strength and encouragement.

Candice
12:26 pm July 23rd, 2013

Thank you. And thanks for the well wishes.

I think everyday that its probably the right time to kick him out. He wont leave.
And you are right there is no way id wish this life on another person, especially my daughter.
So i am being a bad example.
EVERY SINGLE TIME he needs to pop off to the shop I dread it.
And frankly i dont like it when he goes to the loo either.
It isn’t natural…consuming.
He doesn’t think his actions should effect us in a negative way at all.

Anyway, we all have the same story. How messed up is that.

Nobody ever comes out of this as a closely knit family with nooooooo substance abuse?
Need to read your book. What ever happened to your husband?

Candice

Amanda
12:52 pm July 24th, 2013

Candice,

I know that knot you have in your stomach every time you know he is using or wants to. You can ask him to leave and if he won’t then you can. You are worth much more than this. Living with addiction is not a choice for your boyfriend but it is a choice for you and I would chose sanity, happiness, your child over the insane cycle of addiction. I guarantee if you add up all the good times, they don’t hold a candle to all of the bad times. Please read my book, Hope Street, if you can, I have had many people tell them it really helped them to heal and to find hope. I wish you and your daughter the best.
Amanda

Jen
8:55 am February 8th, 2014

I was married to an addict for 16 years and left. I met what I thought was a wonderful, in recovery and working it, man, that I became engaged to, despite vowing to never marry again. It’s almost a year later and guess what, he’s using. I’ve got those sickening feeling in my stomach, I have no car, we we’re saving for one, and we live together. I have a good job and can afford to be on my own, but I am having a very hard time “letting go”. My mind races (I have ADD), and I don’t eat or sleep. I really hate all of this.

Amanda
3:42 pm February 11th, 2014

Jen,
Good for you for getting out of your first relationship. I know how tough that can be.
You were able to get the strength to do that just like you will muster it up again to
make a change in your life now. I know that sick feeling all to well. If you can afford
to be on your own, then you can afford to live without that sick feeling.
There comes a time to look at ourselves and why we keep letting these types of people
into our lives. Are we missing something or is this familiar to us? Are we reliving the past and
since these feelings are all we know, we feel comfortable. I learned much later, that the sick
feeling, the drama and the sadness I lived with my ex-husband was similar to how I felt
growing up with two parents that fought and screamed all of the time. So with my husband, this
uncertainty was familiar to me and therefore, I felt it was normal. You need to be out of that situation long enough to heal yourself and accept love from someone who is a healthy person.
It may feel strange at first, boring even, at first, but having a healthy relationship is the best experience. It took me 12 years of my life, youth wasted on my ex-husband, but I was able to get out alive and find someone who has no issues with addiction, and I promise you, there is nothing like doing laundry, going through the pockets of your husband’s pants and not have that sick feeling in your stomach.
When this happened to me, I wrote about it, it transformed into a book, Hope Street. It was my only solace at the time, but it helped me look back and say, “who is this person?” It helped me and still helps me today realized I never want that life again. When this was going on, I couldn’t let go and although people were telling me I was part of the problem, I couldn’t see it. People can only hurt you if you accept it. I didn’t realize part of my personality was to accept things and
rationalize and love too much. This is not a strength in a relationship with an addict.
Jen, take a look at yourself and know you are worth it.
Of course you hate this, and unfortunately it doesn’t usually get much better.
Amanda

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About Amanda Andruzzi

Amanda Andruzzi is a Certified Health Coach, founder of Symptom-Free Wellness and Hamptons SUP, and the author of Hope Street. Her first book, Hope Street memoir is an inspirational story of one woman's frightening journey of co-addiction that led her to uncover courage, unbelievable strength and overcome great adversity. She resides with her daughter, husband, and 1 year old son on the North Fork of Long Island.