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When Someone You Love has an Addiction

Humans are creatures of habit. We like our routines, schedules, and familiarity. We enjoy checking things off to-do lists and we find comfort in knowing what is coming next.

Most of us have life plans and a general idea of what it should look like, including education, career and family. When our life direction gets disrupted it can be devastating and distressing, but we are often able to regain our course.

Sometimes we encounter life-changing challenges like when a loved one develops an addiction. It can impact careers, relationships and the general flow of life. 

Addictions come in many forms. People can form addictions or out of control behaviors with substances, gambling, sex, and food.


1.   Addictions cause chaos. An addiction develops when a bad habit begins to disrupt a person’s routine in a negative way. The chaos results as the individual prioritizes satisfying the addiction over other responsibilities and relationships.

2.  Addictions cause poor decisions. Addiction driven decisions often have far reaching consequences. If a person struggling with addiction was thinking clearly, his or her decisions would look very different. Unfortunately, the logical brain is not in control and the addiction is in the drivers seat.  

3.   Addiction is a coping mechanism. An addiction is often a way to deal with unresolved emotions. It can be a distraction, mind numbing or can be a way to feel. Addiction often results from other challenges that also need to be addressed.

4.  Addictions are challenging for the support system. The actions of an addict will inevitably affect those who rely on them for emotional or physical support. The emotional pain of watching someone you love struggle with addiction can be unbearable and mind occupying.

5.   Addictions cause feelings of isolation. Isolation is one of the hardest challenges that addiction creates. The addict often feels alone and locked into their addiction. Their loved ones often cannot understand them and this creates a lot of shame for both parties. Also, the social stigma keeps people from reaching out to their support networks.


Being in a supportive role for someone struggling with an addiction can leave you feeling frustrated and helpless. The usual methods of communication often do not work – the person can’t tell you how to help them. They are often just as lost, and focused on their own struggles. Here’s where to get started:

Educate yourself as much as you can. The internet is full of resources, and the more you know, the more you will be able to support your loved one. This has the added benefit of helping you feel more comfortable with the topic. The unknown is scary. The more you know, the more able you will be to handle the situation.

Let your loved one know that you love them, no matter what. This is easy to write but much harder to do. You may not be feeling very loving towards them. It is important to remember that the person you love is still there. They are not their addiction. Try to let them know that they may be struggling, but you love them anyway.

Build up your own supports, as much as you can. You need to take care of yourself, if you’re going to be able to support others. Reach out to your family or a trusted friend. Remember, you do not have to suffer alone.


The Center for Intimacy, Connection and Change is committed to providing the highest quality services to help you establish the connected relationships that you deserve.

Schedule a free consult here, or contact Naami Resnick by emailing:

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