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The 10 Commandments of Loving Someone Living with Addiction

  1. Be Patient – This is not like getting your appendix out—“one trip to the hospital, and it is over.” No, this is the long haul. There are no shortcuts or instant cures. It will take a while to get them into treatment and recovery. Even then, there is no fix or guarantee in a life-long journey. Never grow complacent or panic. 
  2. Gain Their Trust – This is different from trusting them. Those living with addictions have a difficult time trusting people, just as people have a difficult time trusting them. Establishing trust means communicating that you will not hurt or abandon them, even if they do that to you. It is giving them unconditional love. 
  3. Don’t Take Anything Personal – This may be difficult to do, especially when the demons come out of their mouths: they say cruel and hurtful things. Remember that the person in active addiction is not the person inside there who is waiting to be released from the bondage of addiction. Their shame and self-hatred can cause them to deflect and project their anger onto the people closest to them, who they know deep inside are their ride or die.
  4. Set BoundariesDespite whatever they say or do when given rules or consequences, they actually crave and desire these. It helps to manage them because they know they are unmanageable.
  5. Be Honest and RealPeople with addictions are experts at reading people. Remember, they are constantly in survival mode and scoping out the horizon for vulnerable or dangerous people. They know if you genuinely care or if you have ulterior motives for being in their lives. 
  6. Don’t Try to Find Out By Asking Them What They Are Doing or Who They Are Doing It WithThese things are inconsequential to the goal of getting them better. Pestering does nothing to help the situation. It is a deflection. If what we really want is for them to get healthy, the only thing that would matter is what is lies in front of them, not behind them. Focus on the present, and plan for the future!
  7. A Little Crazy Goes a Long WayDon’t be afraid to go off on them, scream, curse and throw things. Sometimes it is the only thing they understand or that will that get their attention. It also works wonders for all the pent-up feelings and frustrations you hold in.
  8. Take Care of YourselfSometimes we become too codependent and focus on them as the problem while we are getting sicker and sicker. Put your oxygen mask on first.
  9. Keep a Sense of HumorYou just got to look back and laugh at the crazy things we do along this journey. It’s stuff that no one would appreciate or understand unless they have been through it, especially the list of lies they tell. Just laugh about them, don’t fight with them about the lies.
  10. Keep FaithAs long as there is a heart-beat, there is hope. And, even if the heart stops, remember that the soul and spirit continue. As long as we love, we can get through anything, if we remain grateful and grounded.