The Labour Of Love: The Perils And Pros Of Dating An Addict


Women have been seen as nurturing for centuries, tirelessly attempting to raise their children and, in some cases, even their men into being the best they can be. But in the case of dealing with an addict is this trait always beneficial or could it be a detriment to your personal sanity and self-esteem? Look at the tragic cases of Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse’s mutually destructive relationships, sometimes being selfish is for the best.

Contrary to popular opinion, addiction is a disease that can change people for the worst and escalate into something difficult to control. Finding out about your partner’s addiction can bring a tornado worth of emotions to the forefront, from anger and resentment to fear and isolation. The tough part is that these are the hardest feelings to articulate and communicate to each other. Life for both of you will change in a major way and you both have to learn to come to terms with that. Some people will find that they bottle things up as a way of maintaining control over the uncontrollable, others will take their hurt out on those that care the most. But communicating these feelings is key to supporting each other through it and being able to anticipate each other’s needs.

Unfortunately in some cases, when the addict is unwilling to seek treatment or listen to advice, the prospect of their addiction being fatal is very real. Acceptance of this can seem impossible. Mary E Johnson, from the Chaplain Mayo Clinic, believes that sometimes denial can be an important coping mechanism, as it allows for gradual acceptance of the situation while they tackle each day at a time. Friends and family of those involved shouldn’t underestimate the power of just being there for the couple to vent to, without judgement or making them feeling like a burden. A positive attitude can make all the difference in times of adversity and give the addict some hope for the future that will motivate them to maintain their sobriety.

Johnson also states how there is every chance that this experience can actually strengthen your relationship in the long run if both parties are open to this possibility. The addict’s strength of character and perseverance to beat their addiction could actually make them more alluring as a partner. On the flipside, addiction isn’t always pretty. Their physical appearance and sometimes their self-confidence can deteriorate. Expert Christine Cadena discusses how their illness can reduce your partner’s libido and at times even cause them to lose their sexual identity completely. It can be a very lonely experience for both parties and the temptation to cheat may be higher. references how addicts can become increasingly violent, secretive and more volatile in their moods. This could develop into domestic violence, as getting their fix is their main priority now. This change in personality can be distressing and confusing for loved ones and may result in them being cut off by family members to show a united front against the addict’s bad decisions. It is important to protect yourself in this situation and to remove yourself when you feel in danger. Focus on the positive aspects of your life and build a strong support system away from the relationship, to avoid your life being consumed by it. It is impossible to change someone that doesn’t want to change, and you don’t want to risk losing yourself in the process of trying to help.

Casa Palmera Rehab Centre advises that partners take the precautions of protecting their money by restricting the addict’s access to it. Medical bills and rehab costs can be very expensive, plus the financial burden will be left on the person who is still able to earn a living. This can add extra stress to your relationship and cause arguments that didn’t exist prior to their addiction. Their addiction can also take its toll on any children involved, causing abandonment complexes and difficult questions to answer for the sober parent. The volatility of the situation is no place for a child to be raised in, you do not want to risk them witnessing violence or losing respect for that parent consumed by their addiction.

I once read that self-love is the ultimate goal in life and that every obstacle that arises is simply a test of that love and whether you pass or fail determines how positive your lot in life becomes. To a degree I agree whole-heartedly with this statement, but then again what happened to “treat others how you’d like to be treated”? As frowned upon as it is to leave someone during their time of need, sometimes it is necessary to protect yourself and any children caught in the middle. Your intolerance of their addiction is also a powerful message to both the addict and the children watching your actions. This decision to walk away may motivate your partner to seek treatment and make the life-long commitment to stay clean and healthy for those they love. For further information on dealing with an addict plenty of support groups are just a click away. Good luck.

For more advice on dealing with a toxic relationship take a look at my earlier article below:

For anger management advice see below:


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