Letting go is hard. Friends and family members will go to great lengths for their loved ones. They may knowingly let their loved one take advantage of them because at least that means the person is still a part of their life.
Cutting off an addict is difficult because we sometimes feel like we’re that person’s last hope. Without our home, our money or our relationship, we think our loved one will have no other place to turn.
Choosing to stop enabling someone you care about is a difficult decision because love and support are necessary for recovery from addiction. People struggling with addiction need strong support systems to help them quit. But you can’t let your health suffer because of their actions. Sometimes you have to put your foot down and cut an addict off.
1. When Safety Is Jeopardized
Unfortunately, the world of alcohol and drug addiction is a dangerous place. People who use drugs may interact with dangerous people. They often put themselves in risky situations to get the substances that they need to curb cravings.
Alcohol and other drugs can turn your loved ones into violent people. The substances disrupt judgement and emotional regulation, making people with addictions short-tempered.
If another person is putting you in risky situations, it’s time to make a change. If they physically, verbally or emotionally harm you, do what you need to do to ensure your safety. You also have a responsibility to protect other friends and family members if the person is endangering them.
2. When You’re Enabling
You’re enabling addiction when you knowingly support people who are making no attempt to get better. Enabling can include giving them money, food or shelter. If you accept blame for their problems or allow them to take advantage of you, you’re enabling.
People make mistakes. They may have made a poor decision when they first tried alcohol or other drugs, but no person chooses addiction. We don’t want to turn our backs on loved ones just because they develop an illness.
However, we can’t enable them. Many people refuse to recognize their addiction until they’re forced to. They don’t have to hit rock bottom to realize they need treatment. But actions speak louder than words, and you may need to make drastic actions for them to realize you’re serious.
3. When They Refuse to Listen
You can’t help people who don’t want to listen. You can try to persuade or convince them that they need rehab, but they have to choose to get help.
You should make every effort to explain how their actions are affecting their lives. You should try to teach them about the disease of addiction. Show them how their actions are affecting your life and the lives of others. Find time to let them know that you love them and want to see them recover.
If friends and family members can’t convince them to seek help, consider holding an intervention. Professional interventionists specialize in helping families communicate with people with substance use disorders. If an intervention doesn’t work, then you should cut them off until they’re ready to listen.
4. When You Need a Break
We all want to be heroes for our friends and families. If they’re in trouble, we’ll go to great lengths to aid them. Many of us will sacrifice our own health and happiness to help others. But being a caregiver can be exhausting.
Even if you’re willing to risk your own health and safety for others, you should recognize that you can’t help them if you’re exhausted. You can be a better resource for your loved one if you take a break and make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your responsibilities.
Let the person know that you don’t have the energy to provide support right now, but that you’re committed to getting your life together so you can offer support once he or she completes a treatment program.
5. When You Stop Caring
Even though it may be hard to believe, you can develop apathy toward loved ones with addiction. It’s hard to love people who mistreat us or others. Their actions may damage your relationship to the point that you stop caring.
You aren’t obligated to help someone that you don’t care about. In fact, continuing to pour time and energy into people who you feel indifferent toward may be problematic. You may be more likely to lash out at them or say things that hurt them. Neither you nor the person with the addiction needs that.
People with addiction need love and support. But that doesn’t mean you have to be the person to support them. If you’re incapable of giving them the support that they need, then you can actually make things worse.
Cutting off our loved ones is a difficult decision. Even though you’re discontinuing contact or holding back your time and energy, you don’t have to give up on them. You can still love them or be open to loving them some day. You can still be there for them when they choose to seek the treatment that they need.