It can be difficult to navigate through the ups and downs in any relationship, and addiction will only complicate things. Not knowing when to leave, creates a gray area that adds to the pressure of a relationship already under stress. To best take care of the addict you love and yourself, utilize available addiction resources nearby.
Why Some People Choose to Stay in Romantic Relationships With Drug Addicts
Knowing when to leave a drug addict is easier said than done. Some people choose to stay in relationships with addicts because they are married and or have children. While marriage and family are important, it can only go so far if the family isn’t functioning in a healthy manner. Thus, only stay in a marriage with an addict if doing so will better help the addict receive addiction treatment.
Another common reason why people stay in relationships with drug addicts is that they think that leaving will only cause their partners to spiral out of control. While this is an understandable concern, it often isn’t a true one.
It’s important for drug addicts to learn to not depend on others for their sobriety. Thus, individuals should learn how to not spiral out of control in the absence of another person.
When to Leave a Relationship With a Drug Addict
Part of knowing when to leave a drug addict is recognizing when more harm is caused by staying than leaving.
If You’re an Enabler
One common way that individuals harm their significant others that suffer from substance use disorders is by enabling them.
Taking on the role of an enabler is not a good thing. This is because enablers only make it easy for others to abuse substances. Therefore, if one is an enabler for his or her significant other’s substance use problem, leaving the relationship is necessary.
One way that people often enable the substance use problems of their significant others is by covering up the mistakes that their romantic partners make due to substance use. Another common way that people in romantic relationships with addicts enable their partners’ substance use issues is by making excuses for their partners’ poor behavior.
If You’re In An Abusive Relationship
Individuals who are experiencing any form of abuse by their romantic partners that are drug addicts should also know to leave. Anyone in a relationship with an abusive drug addict that doesn’t leave is risking his or her life, well-being, and/or happiness. No romantic relationship is worth that risk, not even a marriage.
If You’re Being Taken Advantage Of
No romantic relationship is also worth allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. Some ways that addicts often take advantage of their significant others is by lying to them and stealing from them. If you find that your spouse or partner whose an addict is continuously lying and stealing from you, it’s likely time to end the relationship.
If Your Relationship Puts Children in Danger
Another clear sign that one should end a relationship with an addict is if maintaining the relationship puts children in danger. Every child has the right to be protected. Therefore, if maintaining a romantic relationship or marriage with an addict hinders you from protecting and providing for your children, you must end your romantic relationship.
How Fear Affects Decision-Making
As sad as it sounds, people are often more influenced by fear than any other emotion. As a result, people often make decisions based on the fear of what could happen. Ironically, most of the things that people worry about never end up coming to pass. Thus, many people allow fear to make them make the wrong decision. Don’t allow that to happen when deciding whether or not to leave a relationship with a drug addict.
The biggest fear that many people have when ending a relationship with a drug addict is simply what will happen afterward. Will the addiction get worse, or will the addict realize how damaging his or her substance use was to the relationship and get help?
Do my family and peers think I am taking the easy way out? Will my partner who’s an addict face abandonment? Can my absence lead to the addict getting hurt? Will anyone else step in to make sure that the addict is cared for?
Many people even fear that ending a relationship with a drug addict will be traumatic for the addict, thus worsening his or her addiction. At the end of the day, there is no way to know in advance what will happen in the future.
Therefore, people shouldn’t make major life decisions, such as ending a relationship or not, out of fear. Instead, people should make their decisions on whether or not to end a romantic relationship with a drug addict based on facts, the behavior patterns of the addict, and whether or not leaving will help motivate the addict to receive help or not.
Using Therapy to Help Individuals Know When to Leave a Relationship With an Addict
Therapy is always a valuable option before making a big decision that affects everyone. Utilizing therapists as mediators can help the loved ones of addicts effectively communicate their emotions in a way that may make the addict’s desire to receive help. Forms of therapy that allow individuals in romantic relationships to learn more about one another include marriage and family therapy.
Although it may take time and patience, intensive family therapy often helps spouses get and stay on the same page. After establishing communication, knowing when to leave, or if you should leave, likely becomes a decision you both make together.
Coping As the Spouse of an Addict
Knowing when to leave a marriage, or wondering if leaving is best, is different for everyone. That’s because every relationship is different, as is each addiction.
People that are married to addicts will often find any excuse to not end the relationship. Alcohol addiction may be easier to cover up and make excuses for as a spouse. This is because alcohol is a legal substance for adults.
Addiction to illegal substances, on the other hand, often comes with more obvious red flags. These red flags are especially apparent to the significant others of addicts. Thus, many people find it easier to leave a romantic relationship or marriage with an addict that uses illegal substances.
Unfortunately, addiction to legal substances such as prescription medications and alcohol can have just as many, if not more, negative effects on marriage and family as addiction to illegal substances. Therefore, it’s usually just as necessary to end marriages to alcoholics and prescription drug addicts as it is to end marriages to individuals that suffer from addiction to illegal substances.
That’s why it’s so vital that spouses of addicts stay strong in their decisions to end their marriages. Utilizing coping techniques such as exercising and journaling can help spouses of addicts remain strong in their decisions to end their relationships.
Tough Decisions To Make As The Romantic Partner of An Addict
At this point, there are two decision options that romantic partners of addicts can make. The first one is ending a relationship with a drug addict. This is especially true when a person is in danger of having an abusive encounter
The second decision that one can make as the romantic partner of an addict is to remain in the relationship and continue to provide support. This decision is best suited for romantic partners of individuals with milder substance use issues.
Setting Boundaries: Knowing When to Leave or Deciding to Stay
Knowing when to leave marriage commitments because of an addiction is something that requires an appropriate amount of thought. After all, for better or worse is what the partnership is based on. However, just the same, vows like honor and respect are vows that have been broken. So where do you draw the line on knowing when to leave a relationship or marriage due to substance abuse?
Boundaries for a relationship are important. Let your personal boundaries and expectations for your marriage act as a form of relapse prevention at home.
Managing Guilt When Leaving a Relationship With an Addict
When knowing when to leave a relationship with an addict, it’s important to not blame yourself for the separation. It’s also important to not allow yourself to be tempted to come back to the relationship before one’s romantic partner is clean and sober. To help keep you away from your loved one who you separated from due to addiction, remember the following three fact:
- You are not to blame and their addiction wasn’t your fault.
- There is no cure, and there is nothing more you could have done besides offer to get them help.
- Their addiction, much like their journey toward recovery and commitment to sobriety is not in your control. Whether they attend rehab and get clean, relapse, or continue abusing substances, it is ultimately in their hands.
The disease of addiction is chronic, meaning it will be a lifelong illness. Making the commitment to stay in a marriage that will depend on the sobriety of the other half of the relationship.
When to Stay
There are couples who are able to work past a spouse’s addiction by working together to achieve recovery. It’s extremely important to integrate sobriety and recovery into the marriage at every level. Again, this is another easier-said-than-done situation. Constantly centering life around sobriety can be challenging, or appreciated, as a second chance or a fresh beginning.
Enjoying holistic therapeutic activities together can ease some of the pressure and inspire passion and creativity in the relationship. The commitment to remaining sober will be equally as important as the promises made to each other. Those willing to move forward must be confident about knowing when to leave, should either vow be broken.
Knowing When to Leave and When to Get Help
No matter which way you look at it, knowing when to leave a relationship is complicated. It is even more difficult when addiction is involved. To learn more about whether or not ending a relationship with a drug addict is a good decision, and whether or not to disuse treatment options for your significant other, contact Florida Center for Recovery today.
Recovery is possible. Rehab can help. It’s worth the try.
Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.