Being a relationship with anyone can be a challenge. You have to constantly communicate what you are both feeling to each other, and you have to be willing to adjust your own behavior to meet your partner’s needs. Being a parent, sibling, or relative can also be difficult at times. This is especially true if the person we love–our partner, our brother, our sister, our parent–is an alcoholic or an addict. There are several things you need to remember when you love an alcoholic or addict.
Do not take it personally when the person you love slips up and relapses. Even though they know drinking and using drugs is destructive, addiction is still a disease. If someone is early recovery, it’s likely that they are going to slip up at some point. It may make you angry, but the best way to react to the situation is with understanding, kindness, and forgiveness. Be firm and encourage your loved one to start over again tomorrow with his or her recovery. Do not panic and end the relationship when your loved one relapses for the first or even second time. Allow them the space to relapse programs.
Addiction is a disease.
It’s important to remember that addiction is a disease just like cancer or Alzheimer’s. You wouldn’t leave someone or stop speaking to your daughter or son because they developed cancer and started chemotherapy, which made them violently ill. You wouldn’t leave your parent in a nursing home if he or she developed Alzheimer’s and could no longer remember who you are. You have compassion for people with these diseases, and addiction is no different. Do not take it personally. Your loved one is sick.
They need your support.
Your loved one needs you to be supportive. Do not drink or do drugs around your loved one. Be willing to go to meetings with your loved one if he or she wants you to. Be willing to read helpful and supportive literature with them. Maybe try going to church with them or getting them involved in some other activity.
The important thing to remember when you love an alcoholic or addict is that they really need your love. They need you to be compassionate, kind, and forgiving. Because like cancer or any other disease, addiction is a disease that they deserve to be able to fight.