Living With an Addict, A Self-Help Guide On Coping

You found out that your brother has been hooked on cocaine for a while. Sipping on a cup of coffee, you realize that your assumption was true all along. 

The constant mood swings, the constant clicking of the jaw, but most of all, the isolation. You felt him pull away from you, his friends, and the whole family. 

To make things worse, he blew all of his savings on a few lines last night, while he was out with friends. As you take a slow sip, a rush of emotion washes over you. 

Not sure if it's anger or self blame, you look at him, wide-eyed, and say, "How could do you do this to yourself? To our family?  Do you have any idea how you're going to get all that money back?” 

In response, he sighed and put his head in his hands. 

Living With an Addict, A Self-Help Guide On Coping

To live with an addict takes patience, understanding, and assertiveness. What they don't tell you, is how hard it is on your mental health. You constantly feel as though you have to protect them from the judgment of others. It's a tiring job, trying to watch them so they don't go on a bender. 

The truth though, is you can't stop them from doing it. They have to help themselves before anyone can tell them how to do things. 

According to an article published by Heathline, it's important not to take their actions personally. It's also good to know how addiction can affect a household. 

Feelings such as; anger, embarrassment, and guilt are quite common, and financial problems may arise if one isn't careful.

Living With an Addict, A Self-Help Guide On Coping

There are ways to create a better atmosphere in your home. First, it's important to make sure that your loved ones are safe. Take note of the vulnerable, such as children, seniors, or members with disabilities. 

Create boundaries that the addict has to follow and if the boundaries aren't being followed, you may have to ask them to leave. 

An important rule, is for the addict to have restricted access to money. A lot of the time, the addiction becomes too much to handle and they need a bigger fix. This may cause them to take extreme measures, like stealing from family and friends. Keep your money hidden. 

Living With an Addict, A Self-Help Guide On Coping

Encourage the addict to get treatment, but be prepared to receive an unpredictable response. Defensiveness is quite common, and they may take it as an attack if you mention rehab or counseling.

Just know, that it's not your fault if they refuse to get help. They need to want it. If you bring it up and they seem defensive, change the subject and go back to the conversation at a later time. 

The best thing that you can do for yourself, is to prioritize self care. Those who try to help addicts tend to forget about themselves. 

Living With an Addict, A Self-Help Guide On Coping

Organize a night out with your friends or treat yourself to the spa. Don't ever forget about caring for you. There's only one of you and you need to take care of your mind and body, first. 

One of the last pieces of advice, would be to hold back on judgment and do not antagonize. I know it's hard when you just want to shake them and tell them to wake up, but that won't help the situation at all.

In fact, it may even encourage them to do it even more, because they know that you're going to judge them anyway. Create a safe space for them, and try to understand that they're hurting just as much as you are.

Living With an Addict, A Self-Help Guide On Coping

There will be a time, when the addict will want to seek treatment but you're probably asking, "Well, how bad does their situation have to be in order for them to call it quits?” 

There's no simple answer, as every addict is different, but it could take a long time. If it becomes too difficult to handle, do not be afraid to cut the cord. Sometimes, they don't realize how much pain they're inflicting on their loved ones, until it's too late. 

One may feel guilty about taking a step back, but that's completely normal. You may feel as though you're leaving them behind, but sometimes, you need to do what's best for you and create some distance. 


One thing is for sure, though. An addict may have issues, but that doesn't stop them from loving you. 

Don't take what they're doing personally, because like I said earlier, they're hurting too. It's a disease and just like any disease, we give all the support we can and help them get better. Even if it's just sitting down for coffee once a week, you're still helping them see the silver lining - just be patient

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