It is hard to deal with alcohol or drug addiction, and it is even tougher to be a in a relationship with an addict. In fact, substance abuse usually ends a relationship because it is not possible for a person to abuse mind-altering substances and still maintain a good relationship. The addiction takes over the life of the addict, leaving no room for another person. It is common to see these addicts fall into self-absorption and delusion, which is usually enough to taint a relationship. Alcoholic behavior in relationships leads to destruction unless the person manages to escape his/her addiction, which is easier said than done. As harmful as it is, sometimes you may want to hold on to the person that you love (or loved) and hope to pull him/her back. Do not lose hope, there are things you can do to keep it going and avoid being harmed!
Impact of Addiction (Drug, Alcohol, etc.) in Relationships
For people abusing drugs or alcohol, it is usually impossible to maintain intimate relationships. The combination of alcohol or cocaine addicts and relationships never seem to work. The reason is that these substances become the first priority for the person, and they just cannot overcome this obsessive behavior. Not only this, the abuse of these substances usually affects the sexual functioning of a person; in fact, the addicts sometimes lose complete interest in sex and intimacy.
People with alcoholic behavior in relationships sometimes lose interest in sex, but you may sometimes see them engage in promiscuous sex. This type of sex never has any intimacy whatsoever and involves multiple partners. It may as well prove fatal for a relationship.
How to Keep a Relationship with an Addict
It is never easy being in a relationship with an addict. You will be experiencing a rollercoaster ride with emotions changing every minute. It is true that you may still be in love with someone with alcoholic behavior in relationships, but it is important to learn how to balance compassion and self-protection. It also applies to being in a relationship with an addict in recovery.
1. Don't Expect a Lot from Promises
The first thing you need to understand is that drug or alcohol addicts are notorious for not keeping their words. It means you should not expect them to keep their promises always, and learn when to hold them accountable for not keeping their words. You will have to balance it all out with care to avoid feeling disappointed all the time.
2. Draw Acceptable Boundaries
The addict is never going to change overnight, even if they promise to do so. It is therefore essential for you to set acceptable boundaries. You may tell them you're not going to talk to them when they are high or they are not allowed in the house when they're using. Stand firm on your ground and don't let the addict bully, sweet talk, or pressurize you into changing your decisions.
3. Don't Get in Any Arguments
It is hard to resist the temptation, but you should know that alcoholic behavior in relationships tend to be extremely argumentative. Don't let them suck you into volatility. You should refuse to argue even if that makes them say that you don't care for them. Only you are going to suffer when you get in an argument and let it escalate. Be sure to call 911 if you feel an argument may lead to physical violence.
4. Don't Blame Yourself for Their Plight
It is important to recognize the fact that you usually can do nothing to make an addict give up his/her habit. It is just not possible to force change in this situation, and your pressure may even push them to isolate themselves from everyone, including the people who genuinely care for them. You can help them only when they are ready to use your help.
5. Avoid Being an Enabler
It is hard being in a relationship with an addict, but it is even harder to avoid being an enabler. When you love someone, it is not easy to see him/her in pain. Make sure you don't do it. If you have a drug addict at home, don't give him/her money. If they want to eat, buy them food. Don't give them free money or else you will actually be hurting them by letting them continue with their destructive behavior.
6. Don't Wait Until the Last Minute
One mistake people often make is that they keep trying their own luck and don't reach out for help until it's too late to fix things. You don't have to suffer for years before you ask someone to help you manage things better. Remember, it is usually not possible to make things better without professional help.
7. Know When It’s Time to Leave
Learn when to walk out of a relationship. It is not always possible to salvage a relationship. If you have already given your best to make things better and nothing seems to work, you should consider calling it quits. The person who you loved before that addiction is no longer there. Understand it and know when to move on.
Here's a bit more about what you should consider when dating a recovering addict.