Sarah’s sweet, pretty, witty–she seems to have it all. At 26 she has a budding career, you’ve met her family and you all get along pretty well. Everything about her seems to check out–except when you found her in the bathroom snorting cocaine but she tells you it’s nothing and you believe her. Aside from that one thing, the many months of going out is in fact really going well so you think, “Wow, maybe she’s the one.”
You almost gave up on relationships but then this Daniel comes along. He’s an accountant by day and a musician at night. He’s responsible, thoughtful, funny, good-looking, and you are head over heels in love. One day, he invites you to move in with him and that’s when you slowly see his story unfolding–he’s a functioning meth addict. It has explained a lot of things but you know it’s really nothing and he can change his life if he really loves you.
Dating is really quite stressful enough but loving an addict is really something. The problems that typically occur in relationships, from forgetting your anniversary to checking out other women to actually cheating on you–these are nothing compared to being in a relationship with someone who abuses drugs or alcohol.
Adding addiction into the dynamics of dating can be very unpredictable. Dating becomes a constant juggling act between love and drugs, hope and devastation, anger and frustration…and you may even question so many things, even your own sanity. Although it really is not the same for everyone, dating a drug addict, like dating anyone, also comes with its share of challenges. However, just because they are drug addicts or alcoholics doesn’t mean they are Mr. Wrong. Addicts who have overcome their vices and are living in solid recovery can make excellent partners who may even teach you a thing or two. But before you put yourself in a position to completely fall for an addict or take the next step in your relationship, consider these things:
Love does not conquer all
If you are already having addiction-related problems in your relationship, expecting them to change out of their love for you can further add to the hurt or frustration. “If you love me, you will not leave this house and do drugs” or something along those lines may be familiar to you. After all, if he loves you he should change right?
No. One thing you should learn before diving deeper into a relationship with an addict is that their addiction takes priority over everything: career, health, family, financial security, even you. Their brain’s rewards system has been rewired to the point that they would actively–compulsively–seek out their substance of choice even if it means they are going to get into all sorts of trouble.
Addiction is a chronic disease.
Addiction is a compulsion disorder, meaning they would see nothing but their meth, pills, alcohol, heroin, ecstasy, or whatever substance they are addicted to. They would see that and choose that over everything. Their brain and body seeks it as well. And often, addicts are addicted to more than one substance. There are also those who have behavioral addiction like gambling, pornography, or sex. (To give you more perspective, read up on addiction insights here.)
This is why addiction is treated by professionals, in a rehabilitation setting. There are many programs and facilities that cater to specific types of addiction and recognizing your own loved one’s problems can help them find the treatment that they need.
If you care about someone who is in active addiction, think about helping them get treatment. Hold off on turning your relationship into something more until they have established sobriety and are committed in their recovery.
There is the possibility of relapse
Studies estimate that 40 to 60 percent of addicts relapse. This means that falling back into their old ways is always a possibility, even if they themselves don’t believe it. As their partner, you should work together to stay alert and watch out for triggers that may cause them to relapse. Be prepared as well to get the, the help they need if they do relapse. This is because if left unaddressed, a relapse can lead back to addiction and your relationship may never be the same again.
The threat of relapse does not mean you should stop seeing someone who is firmly grounded in their recovery. It is simply something that you should be aware of. Once you start dating someone who has an addiction or who is in recovery, you should also start educating yourself about the disease of addiction so you know what to expect out of the relationship and how you can help your loved one.
Dating someone with an active addiction could mean that he can spend all his money on his addiction. There is also the possibilities of debts, brushes with the law, brawls, unemployment, health problems, even mental health problems. They may have financial problems that they were able to hide from you before but as you progress in your relationship, you can slowly see the kinks.
Although these are not necessarily deal-breakers, and if they are in recovery, they can set things right in their life again. However, you should know that their problems can become your problems too. And if you can’t accept that, or are not prepared to handle that, they you may not be the right person to accompany them in their journey.
Don’t forget yourself
Loving an addict can sometimes be such a selfless act that there is the danger of you forgetting to love yourself. One important thing to realize in this situation is that although you cannot control your partner’s addiction, you can control yourself. Love yourself, and set boundaries so that you can protect yourself from being swallowed and taken down by your partner’s addiction.
At times, you may need to ask yourself very difficult questions, and you have to be honest to yourself: Why are you attracted to this person? Do you really believe you can fix or rescue another person? Are you with this person now because you believe you can rescue him?
Dating someone who is an addict can be complicated and a lot of hard work. Most relationships are like this, only with different sets of problems. What is important is that you are prepared, informed, and committed to a healthy approach to address these difficulties.
If care about your loved ones, help them get the help they need. Text or call us to understand their addiction and how you can seek treatment for them: