How to leave an addict? (Let go!)

If you are living with an addicted spouse or partner, what does it take to leave? A guide on how to address the fear and let go of an addict (for good) here.

minute read

Do you love an addict? Is addiction destroying your relationship your family? Do you find yourself looking online to find out how to help an addict? Are you exhausted by the relationship? Are you finally starting to realize you have to let go?

Here, we explore some of the thinking behind why you stay with an addict. And we invite you to let go of the fear and to do something different. More from someone who has been there, with a section for you to share your questions or situation at the end.

Do you find yourself saying…

  • “I am scared that if I leave they will die or be homeless or kill themselves.”
  • “I am afraid that if I leave, they will get better and find someone else.”
  • “I am frightened of being alone.”
  • “I am petrified that I will never love anyone like I love the addict.”
  • “I am fearful of telling my friends and family how bad things really are.”

The one thing all of these statements have in common are the words: SCARED, AFRAID, FRIGHTENED, PETRIFIED, FEARFUL. These are all just different words for feelings of fear. It is difficult to think about letting go of someone when you have so many fears about leaving. But, moving on after a relationship with an addict may be just what you need.

Where does the fear come from?

There is seldom a person who is thinking about leaving an addict who does not feel a powerful and sometimes overwhelming sense of fear. If your love for someone consists of fear, you should look at the source of the fear. We all experience love and friendship, but if something is not right, there is someone else out there for you.

It is a healthy thought to know that life can go on beyond a relationship that has failed regardless of who is to blame. If you have a fear of leaving someone, especially when the situation is toxic, then you must turn the mirror on you and take a look. Check out these symptoms of a codependent marriage for a start.

Furthermore, the fear of letting go is usually blown out of proportion because of the dramatic nature of this type of relationship. The ups and downs of dealing with an active addict may put you in a cycle of elation and depression. This fear may be a symptom of a deeper problem engrained in experiences from the past and not so much the present. The fear itself may be unjustified in the present situation.

Let go of the fear

Life will not end for you if you leave an addict. Life may only just begin again. Because addiction can beat you down, you can become used to an attitude of negativity. A lack of enthusiasm for life can become the norm. And even though you may look at addiction as a disease, you cannot blame yourself or hold yourself accountable for someone else’s conscious choices.

If the fear comes from a place where you think the addict may fall apart without you, then you should take a good look at that. You are not responsible for anyone else, especially if they are mistreating you. When you play the role of caretaker, the addict usually dictates how you exist. If you can look at your role in the relationship and what it means to you, why it keeps you from leaving, and why it holds you back, you may be able to see the situation through objective eyes. Gaining perspective usually alleviates the fear.

The underlying truth: You’ve got issues

My husband and I were together for twelve years and we had one child. He had cheated on me, lied to me about everything, used drugs in our home, disappeared, and was verbally and emotionally abusive and yet I could not let him go. I had to ask myself if this was a problem with him or with me. The one good thing about my husband’s addiction was that I learned a great deal about myself. I allowed this to go on for reasons that had little to do with him and more to do with me.
Q: What can you do if your loved one is an addict?

A: Let go!

It is naturally hard to let someone you love go, despite the situation. But what I learned through my fear was that I had insecurities and underlying unresolved issues from my past. I was using my husband’s drug addiction to deflect my own issues. My husband was hiding behind drugs and I was hiding behind them too. I was able to point the finger at what was wrong with him so I did not have to deal what was wrong with me.

Facing yourself starts the healing process

Once I started to delve deeper into my personal issues and uncover self-confidence, the fear lessened. In fact, over time, the fear went away and letting go became a lot easier. When I was no longer afraid to deal with my own troubles, I did not want to be in a relationship with someone who was still afraid to deal with theirs.

If your relationship with an addict is more than you can handle, you may be thinking it is time to leave. If you find yourself daydreaming about a new relationship with a partner who is not an addict, you may be ready to move on. But you don’t need to do it alone. Please share your story, questions, or comments in the section below.

About the author
Amanda Andruzzi, MPH, AADP, CHES, is a Certified Health Coach, founder of Symptom-Free Wellness, 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 two sons in Florida.
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