When leaving an addict is too hard

Three (3) tips to help get you through self-doubt when leaving an addict…and why you’ll be better off in the long run.

minute read

How many times have you tried leaving your addicted partner only to let them right back in?  Do you feel like you cannot live with or without this person and want to know how you can move on?  When leaving an addict seems like an impossible decision and an even more impossible action, there are things you need to know that can help you get through.

Here, we explore the emotional pain behind the decision to leave an addict. Then, we invite your feedback, questions, or personal stories at the end. In fact, we try to respond to every comment with a personal response.

How can you make the pain stop?

The majority of comments people post on my blog end with statements like, “I keep going back and I am dying inside.  How can I make this stop?”  It is scary to make a change and leave someone you are in love with.  It can be the most painful experience.  It feels like a black cloud is looming over you.  You feel as if no one person can understand how you feel.  You do not know how to make it stop.

But here are a few things to keep in mind as you start to consider your partner’s addiction and how it impacts you:

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1.    Loss is normal.

When you lose someone you love to their addiction, you are experiencing loss.  It is very natural to have feelings of despair, hopelessness, sadness, depression, anxiety, and fear.  When you are having these emotions, you are experiencing a normal response to this type of situation.  It would be abnormal to feel happiness, joy, and gratitude when you are watching the person you love destroy themselves.

2.    Your position is situational.

Nothing lasts forever and all things either change or come to an end.  Knowing that you are in a situation where your emotions are responding in the appropriate manner, you can also understand that these feelings are situational, meaning they will not last forever.

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Addiction responds to treatment. Call us to get started.

When you leave an addict you may experience pain, loss, heartache, depression, and an array of negative emotions.  These emotions are not static, they are transient.  You will never be completely depressed or sad over something situational for the rest of your life.  The hard part is getting through and sorting out those feelings, but if you believe it will get better, it will.

If you let your emotions determine how you are, then you can allow yourself to wallow in the sadness.  If you experience the emotions, go through them, do not avoid them, eventually they will lessen and then go away.

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3.    The hardest part is the leaving: It gets worse and then it gets better.

Knowing that the hard part really is leaving but there will come a point when it will be the best decision you ever made is the hope and inspiration you can channel to get you through the hard part.

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The following is an addictionblog.org post from the wife of an addict.

“I realize now that all my fears of how difficult things would be were justified, it is difficult and painful, but making the decision to let go was the best and what took the most courage. Alongside the sadness, shock, numbness, anger, fear, and loss has also sprouted hope, clarity, joy, courage, and a greater sense of empowerment and self-love. I laugh more and cry less each day that goes by. Each bad day I take it as just a part of the journey and not as an indication that life will always be this difficult and overwhelming.”

Leaving an addict pays off in the end

If you have faith that change and an end to the pain and sadness is inevitable then you can change your perspective on what leaving actually represents.  Leaving an addict is a hard choice that will pay off in the end.  You may have to struggle, but you are guaranteed a new chance at life.

Being awake in your life and embracing happiness is usually preceded by a courageous journey.  A renewed sense of gratitude is your reward.

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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  1. Bev & Audi,
    Have either of you read my book, Hope Street? I think it is an important read for anyone dealing with an addict so that they can really understand what they are dealing with. You have to understand the disease and know what you really can and cannot do.
    Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, AADP,published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  2. I have been married to my husband for 35yrs. He has always had some anger issues & we have overcome it all. we have 4 grown daughters. A year & half ago he started some really bizarre behavior & lots of Angry fighting, horrible name calling & it was just awful. I caught him with some meth & sent him to treatment. He came home & now I suspect that he is still drinking & using but can not tell for sure. He seems to control himself well & says the anger Is because of my suspicion … But will not take a drug test because I am not his boss!! this has created tremendous problems & my girls are just now starting to talk to him because of the anger, fighting, name calling & all that took place in that dark time. I am trying to figure out how to tread these waters without feeling guilty or “driving him to use” I don’t know if I am an enabler or co addict yet this is new to me & I am just trying to get feed back on what I should do or how to handle it. I don’t even have words for how I feel or where I should even start

  3. Even though I moved across country from my addict lying daughter I still get sucked in to her addiction. I don’t know why I do this, but I want it to stop. Is it advisable NOT to communicate with her at all?

  4. Leila,
    this blog is about you, not the addict and most of use here are not with addicts in recovery or we wouldn’t be here. Would you recommend to anyone here that is living with an active addict to continue to enable them? NO, and that is what the true sentiment of these articles are about, getting back to you and opening your eyes to co-addiction.
    Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, AADP,published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  5. Just wondering why all these articles seem to say that one ought to leave their addict partner, yet never seem to mention whether or not the addict is actively participating in recovery programs? The advice seems to be overwhelmingly that one SHOULD ALWAYS leave, so therefore even in a case where the addict is actively striving to overcome the problems all hope should be abandoned and they ought to be left alone?

  6. Michelle,
    It sounds like you have a lot to sort through, have you tried alternative treatments for what ails you? Diet, more water, limited caffeine and a complete change in lifestyle and diet cured me of so many issues I had when I was young. But it sounds like you are in a cycle and negativity just prompts more negativity. If you are living with someone who makes you unhappy and does not love and support you then you need to leave and love and support yourself with the help of friends and family. As you have probably already figured out, drugs and alcohol are not the answer and so if you use those tools yourself then nothing will change. You have to want the change and then find the strength to implement it. It is hard at first but it gets better and the rewards are exponential. If I were you, I would have him leave, change my health with diet and exercise with the help of a health coach or even research it on the internet and start taking back some control over your life. Once you do that you will be pleasantly surprised, I guarantee it.
    Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, AADP,published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  7. I’ve come through serious depression over the past 8 years. Myself and my husband smoked crap within those years. I suffer with chronic pain which they say but not confirmed is fibromyalgia I’m still in the system waiting to see a specialist neurologist for 2 years now for conformation. Within these years I’ve been going through hell I’m 42 and fell like I’m 72 with all over pain headaches sleepless nights problems with my eye sight and inflammation in my bowel every day is a struggle unfortunately it is the same for my sister and so many other people without answers? It has caused anxiety and depression so bad thatch felt like I couldn’t take any more and took a lethal over dose to which I’m very lucky 2 be here today. When it gets so bad a few glasses of wine will stop the pain. I’m still dealing with it today
    As for my husband he continually smokes weed for years now won’t give it up 4 even a week ? This is going on years. I’ve noticed a completely different person as 2 who I married but I’m in da wrong as far as he is concerned and no matter what I do or say I’m the mad one. We’re 26 years together and he is insulin dependant since 16 blames me my anger towards him his laziness and not financially supporting us all my fault. Don’t know what to do
    I’m now considering divorce as I’m so unhappy and I need to be able to make the right choices for my life now. I’m 42 and don’t go out go to work come home cook clean and look after our girls. I want a different life at this stage be happy and to learn to look after me .

  8. Rina,
    Yes you can get a divorce even if he does not want to. You need to consult an attorney to file. If he is using drugs not much he does or says will make sense. If you don’t want to involve the police then I am not sure how you will get him to leave peacefully. When you are tired enough you may change your mind and do whatever needs to be done.
    Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, AADP,published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the video book trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  9. Can I get a divorce without his consent? He tells me that he doesn’t believe in divorce. Then he throws in my religion at me. He says my God wouldn’t be OK with me divorcing cuz it’s against the bible laws. He never leaves the house. He does everything here. I hate it and I tell him to leave. This is my home I pay all the bills. It’s under my name. I won’t involve the cops at all either. So I’m hoping I can get the divorce without his consent. Im to the point of a loss for hope in him. I love him and I am afraid. But it’s been 6 long years now. Been together a total of over 16 yrs off and on. But he’s been on this straight for the last 6 yrs. And its my fault according to him. I upset him cuz I married someone else when we were split up. So now he has this grudge against me. I don’t understand why he married me if he couldn’t get over my past. I’m just tired.

  10. Amy,
    Unfortunately it is hard to keep hearing what a person is going to do and not see the action. Hopefully you will keep telling yourself what you want and eventually it will kick in when you are ready to get out of this situation. I know you feel bad for other people and by staying I appreciate the act of selflessness but at some point you are going to have to take care of you and find happiness or you won’t be able to continue to take care of others.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
    View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  11. Georgia,
    I know you want to help your daughter as my mother tried to help me but she has to find out in her own way because you telling her does not materialize. She needs to see it and hopefully, eventually she gets out before it is too late. In the meantime, I would tell her how you feel about her depression and be a positive influence in her life. If you can tear her away and show her life again that might be help or go with her to an al-anon or nar-anon meeting that would be a start. Also see if she is open to therapy. You can buy her and give her my book and let her know you wanted to give it to her because it is from someone who understands what she is going through. She can also contact me any time. If I were you I would talk with her father and simply discuss the situation and your concerns, you have that right as parents and if he decides to talk to her it won’t be forced. He should know what is really going on. Please let me know if I can help.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
    View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  12. Jackie,
    I can’t help you help him but I can help you help yourself. When you are ready to stop living this way I have created a lot of resources for you here and within my book, Hope Street. Please read as much as you can and try a support group or talking to someone who has experience with co-addiction and addiction. You don’t have to live this way.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
    View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  13. We live my husband mom and step dad and they are very reliant on my income so for wither of us to leave is very hard. I know leaving is the best but in afride of what will happen not only to my mother in law but him as well I feel stuck and I know god is carrying me but I’m very conflicted. Talking the talk and thinking the talk are complete diff then actually doing the talk. I feel like the more I talk the more ppl get sick of me talking because I have no actions.

  14. My daughter is married to a meth addict. He looks like he turned 80 overnight. He does not work, she struggles to pay the bills, buys him cigarretts, feeds him, clothes him etc. He lies constantly, things have went missing. There are no children. I’ve tried to get her to leave but she won’t. She cries and is depressed all the time. How can I help her? How do I get her to see she could be so much happier if she left? She talks to her father who lives in another state everyday, I thought about telling him that maybe he could get thru to her, but I’m afraid if I do that she will never speak to me again. What do I do?

  15. I don’t know what to do my husband is addicted to heroin, he has been gone a week I have been looking for him and can’t find find him, I feel so lonely sad mad I’m so confused I love him so.much

  16. Carrie,
    I am sorry your post slipped past me. I really want to address what you said, that you are sicker than him. Although I doubt that is true, I must say that you are addicted to him. You are by definition a co-addict and define your self-worth and happiness from someone else and where they are at. If he is cheating and using needles, then aside from losing your job, you can also lose your life. Have you thought about contracting AIDS and many other life-threatening diseases from him? You have lost your self-esteem somewhere in all of this and this is about your problems and not so much his. He represents something or someone to you that you are cannot let go of and you need to figure out why you keep repeating the same pattern. You need to figure out why he represents something from your past that you cannot let go of. I would cut all communication and get into therapy and a support group but you have to be ready to do that. When you are ready, I will still be here.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
    View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  17. Amanda,
    It’s killing me to be in love with him. I have escaped harm many times, but keep going back. The other day while not accusing him of anything he called his dealer and bought dope. Then he pretended to have bathroom issues and shot up right there. I caught him and he said it was my fault because I always accuse him anyways. It would be easier if he did die, I could stop holding my breath. His behavior is so erratic, his lies make me feel insane. I think he is trading sex for drugs and I am at risk, yet cannot stop wanting to sleep with him. This week alone, he has been arrested, had his car impounded, been attacked by his dog, had an ER visit, stole money from my debit card, used my car to buy drugs and/or cheat on me while I am work. He is dirty, and never keeps a job for more than a few days. My boss had him removed from the hotel I work at, and I had to ask the police to search him and my car for drugs and needles. Why do I want to sleep with him? Its like my self esteem hangs onto whether or not we have sex. WTF is wrong with me? I am living a secret extra life. I am so close to losing my job, like one more late or miss I am gone. I hope he goes to prison, because I do not think he will get clean otherwise. Two methadone treatments, a bunch of money, a felony for me, and now I smoke cigarettes and cannot stop. I am older much older, and have been trying to rebuild my life, but know I cannot with him. Am I sicker than him, why do I love him? He is abusive and dirty, did I say dirty. Everyone thinks I will actually not get out alive, so why do I run back every single time? My heart is broken, I feel defeated, and alone.

  18. Michelle and Dana,

    You are both doing the right thing. How can you be doing something wrong when you are saving yourself from further misery, sadness, unhappiness, and toxicity. You have tried to help but in helping Nick created a situation of co- addiction. You you know longer know how to stop helping him and start helping yourself because you have been so focused on his problems that it is consumed your entire life and relationship. There is nothing left but this vicious cycle and the hopes that you will see a glimpse of the man you love. An addict only has the capability to lie and manipulate in order to get what they want and continue to use drugs and unfortunately your unhappiness is not on the top of their list, how to maintain their addiction is. You need to figure out how to make your happiness the top of your lift and move on with your life so that you can have a healthy relationship with someone. You are both doing the best thing for yourself by leaving. There is so much waiting for you and I am living proof that there is life after this Missouri. Please keep reading my article here and pick up my book, hope street, because the more you know about addiction and the more you know your role in the cycle that you were both in the better are you will be to Move on. I have been through all of this same agony and I was afraid to leave for fear of what he might do to himself or fear that he would get better without me that’s codependency. I needed to learn that my happiness shouldn’t depend on the state of another person. Trust me you are both moving in the right direction.

    Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  19. I am leaving my boyfriend of 8 years now. He is addicted to cocaine and pain pills and since he has supposedly been clean from that he is drinking alcohol. Twice this pass week he has been drunk and wrecked his truck both nights. I was pushed over the edge when he came home drunk this pass Friday and woke me up out of a dead sleep just to start a fight. I left and went to stay at my sisters, I heard something outside a few hours after I was there and come to find out he slashed my tires. Two weeks age he stole my credit card. He has been jobless most of the time we were together due to his drug and alcohol problems. After our first year of living together he has not paid a single bill. It has been me to keep us a float. I have a 13 year old son, that is not for him. My fear is losing my son behind his foolishness. My life with him has been a anxiety ridden stressful emotional Rollercoaster. MY HOUSE that I worked hard for has holes all over the walls because he damages my property every time we fight because he is loaded. I left this pass weekend and I’m staying with my parents until I can get him out of m house. I feel relieved to have made this step, but deep down I need some reassurance this is the right thing so I can keep moving forward.

  20. I just left my boyfriend of 12 years. In the last 7-10 years he has lied, hide alcohol, lost his job, been sent home from his current job bc he was intoxicated, slept his days away, not dealing with life issues, and fell into a depression. Just 1.5 months ago he got so drunk I had to call the ambulance bc he fell and hit his head. He had a bac of 5 times the legal limit. He confessed he had a problem. I forgot to mention he got a DUI 3-4 hrs ago, he is working towards getting accepted into the ard program. I don’t know how he will get to work or pay it off. I’m pretty sure he owes the gov’t money and medical bills. Oh he doesn’t have health insurance. After about 2 wks of going in the right direction he relapsed, started going back into the same old routine. This past week, he left a Bottle of vodka on the stairs and said it was an old bottle he found. We talked and he said he will go to AA, the next day, I felt something was off. I came home from work and he was intoixated, I found vodka in a water bottle and coffee cup. I told him I can’t do it anymore. The next day I stayed at my parents house and contacted our landlord. I know I’m doing the right thing but I can’t help but wonder if I’m not given him more time for get help, I feel bad that I contacted the landlord without talking with him first but then I think if I waited he will say the right things and I will accept it and give it anther chance meanwhile I know I would be disappointed in myself. All I want for him to do is get serious help and have a happy life. It makes me said that he is choosing alcohol over life. How badly I wish things were different, I could right so much more about all the stuff that happened but I’m so mentally tired…

  21. April,
    You made the right decision, just be aware of that. The road of healing for you and your child might be hard and it may be long but there is an end. You will persevere and you will be better for it. Please, release all that negativity here but in your life I want you to stop the cycle of thinking everything is going to go wrong because that is what you lived with for so long. With addiction everything goes wrong and there is constant disappointment and sadness. Without it, you are free but you have to do the work to help you recover from the trauma you have endured with your daughter. Don’t give up, get help, support and reach out to anyone who will help you move on and let go. If you lose your job, you will find another one because you will be in a better place and more stable.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
    View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  22. So as of Thursday I had to get a protection order against my husband. I have spend over 2 years with him getting drunk but this past year has been the worst. He was caught with Cocaine and placed on probation. He was not allowed to drink well guess what he is a great game player with his PO therapist because he had his son taken away. My daughter and I have been threaten to be killed. Not allowed to answer the door or else. Keeping us up yelling screaming belittling us. You name it he did it. He even got off on making us relive a tragic event in our lives and enjoyed it. I know addition but I never thaught I would be a enabler but I was and now he is gone. His whole family is making our lives he’ll. I am about to lose my job and again he wins we Wil be homeless and he will be living with family to continue with his habbit. I am giving to God which is new never been big on praying but I am dying inside. I miss him love him so much but I know I can never put us through this again. He refuses to get help lies to all the people in a authority, he has the game down so well he stops drinking 24 hours before he has to be tested. I just don’t know at times I ask why at least you would of still had your home and job. Now I am losing everything including my personal that was suppose to be growing old with. At least I have my wonderful daughter and our dogs. Even if we had to live in a cardboard box on side of the street we wouldn’t be wondering if this was the day he would take it to far

  23. Leslie,
    Cut yourself some slack right now and know this will be painful and that you are aloud to fall apart and cry. You are doing the best thing for you and for your children and although you love him, he is hurting himself and indirectly and sometimes directly his family. You need to heal and that takes time. I really hope you enjoy the book and that it helps you find hope, the hope you deserve.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
    View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

  24. Simo,
    Yes an addict is a person but unfortunately addiction is a very selfish thing. If an addict is using and a loved one has done all they can to help and it is affecting their health and happiness in a negative way, why should they suffer? Why should they have to live in misery if they feel like they cannot go on living with an addict? The answer is an addict is a person but so is the loved one of an addict.
    Good Luck

  25. Thank you Amanda for your articles. These are getting me through this tough time. I left my husband once before, but went back within a few days. He promised to get help. He was even looking for rehab places. But thing went back to the same routine. But got even worse. I left him again and haven gone for over a month. It may not seem that long, but it has been the longest month of my life it seems. And this the longest we have been apart in 10 years. It’s has been painful. Slot of tears and self doubt. I worry about him. I m in love with him, but realize I can’t be with him. We have two children I’m thinking of and they were the main reason I left. I’m trying to be strong and patient. Thanks Amanda I plan buying your book.

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