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February 12, 2020

 The fallout from an addiction, for addicts and the people who love them, is devastating – the manipulations, the guilt, the destruction of relationships and the breakage of people. When addicts know they are loved by someone who is invested in them, they immediately have fuel for their addiction. Your love and your need to bring them safely through their addiction might see you giving money you can’t afford, saying yes when that yes will destroy you, lying to protect them, and having your body turn cold with fear from the midnight ring of the phone. You dread seeing them and you need to see them, all at once. 
You might stop liking them, but you don’t stop loving them. If you’re waiting for the addict to stop the insanity – the guilt trips, the lying, the manipulation – it’s not going to happen as long as the addiction has full grasp on them. If you can’t say no to the manipulations of their addiction in your unaddicted state, know that they won’t say no from their addicted one. Not because they won’t, but because they can’t. 
If you love an addict, it will be a long and excruciating road before you realize that there is absolutely nothing you can do. It will come when you’re exhausted, heartbroken, and when you feel the pain of their self-destruction pressing on your heart.  The relationship starts to suck the life out of you and you will start to break. That’s when you’ll know, from the deepest and purest part of you, that you just can’t live like this any more.  
I’ve been an addict and I’ve worked with plenty of addicts, but the words never more sincere than when you have someone you truly love destroying themselves. I have someone in my life who is  heartbreaking to watch. It’s been even more heartbreaking to watch the effect on the people that love them, who are close to him feel helpless. 
I would be lying if I said that my compassion is  undying. It was  in the beginning, but now it’s been exhausted and stripped back to bare. I feel regularly as though I have nothing left to give him. What I’ve learned, after many years, is that there is absolutely nothing that any human can do to change him. With all of our combined wisdom, strength, love and unfailing will to make things better for him, there is nothing more we, family or friends can do. It has to be his decision. 
I realized several years ago that I couldn’t ride in the passenger seat with him, letting someone at the wheel who was on such a relentless path to self-destruction be the one to take the wheel of my destiny. It’s taken many years, a lot of sadness, and a lot emotional  damage to finally come to this conclusion. 
What I do know is that when he is ready to change direction, I’ll be there, with love, compassion and a fierce commitment to stand beside him in whatever way he needs to support his recovery. He will have an army of people behind him and beside him when he makes the decision, but until then, I and others who love him are powerless. I know that.
Nobody intends for a behavior to become an addiction, and if you are someone who loves an addict – whether it’s a parent, child, partner, friend, sibling – the guilt, the shame and the helplessness can be overwhelming. 
Addiction is not a disease of character, personality, spirit or circumstance. It can happen to anyone. It’s a human condition with human consequences, and being that we’re all human, we’re all vulnerable. Addicts can come from any life and from any family. It’s likely that in our lifetime, if we don’t love someone with an addiction, we’ll know someone who does, so this is an important conversation to have, for all of us. 
The problem with loving an addict is that sometimes the things that will help them are the things that would seem hurtful, cold and cruel if they were done in response to non-addicts. Often, the best ways to respond to an addict have the breathtaking capacity to drown those who love them with guilt, grief, self-doubt and of course, resistance.
Loving an addict in any capacity can be one of the loneliest places in the world. It’s easy to feel judged for withdrawing support from them, but eventually, this becomes the only possible response. Unless someone has been in battle, armored up beside you, fighting the fight, being brought to their knees, with their heart-broken and their will tested, it’s not for them to judge. 
The more we can talk about openly about addiction, the more we can lift the shame, guilt, grief and unyielding self-doubt that often stands in the way of being able to respond to an addict in a way that supports their healing, rather than their addiction. It’s by talking that we give each other permission to feel what we feel, love who we love, and be who we are, with the vulnerabilities, frayed edges, courage and wisdom that are all a part of being human. 
Millie Mattered and your loved one does too! There are other who are battling the same emotional roller coaster. Go to Millie Mattered Facebook Page and share your thoughts with us! You can also follow us on instagram Millie Mattered or milliemattered@gmail.com