When You Love an Addict…
Loving an addict means living with lies, manipulation and risky behaviors. The unpredictable, dangerous, and cruel actions of an addict can cause a constant state of fear in the people that love them. The mind becomes hypersensitive and over-reactive which can cause a habitual fear based response to situations once considered ordinary. A constant and even inconsistent exposure to this type of stimuli may cause every thought and decision to become entrenched in anxiety and panic.
Some possible thoughts that are examples of fear-based thinking include:
- I will hide the car keys and the phone so my partner/husband/boyfriend might not be able to get high.
- I will decide to stay home instead of join my family or friends for dinner because maybe if I stay home the addict will not go out and get high.
- I will keep paying for the addict’s cell phone bill so I can keep tabs on who he is calling and texting.
- I will make an excuse to go home in the middle of the day so I can see if the addict is home using instead of at work.
- If I leave to go to the store will the addict be there when I get back, I had better take him with me.
After a few years of living with my addicted husband I had lived out every one of my worst fears. I began to start living in fear every single day. Every thought, every decision, every plan I made was based in fear.
Living with Addiction and an Addict
As you learn to live with and love a person who deliberately harms themselves; your thoughts can become based in a new reality. Doing something as simple as going out to dinner or leaving the house to run errands may be a scary thought because you do not know what you will come home to. Waking up in the morning may spark anxiety because you don’t know if the addict will be home or what condition they will be in.
Our minds can go crazy from just the thought of what might happen. Our imaginations can cause the worst anxieties to surface, however, when we actually live out those fears like most co-addicts do, it can bring fear-based thinking to a whole new level. It is not uncommon for a person who loves an addict to become crippled with fear on a daily basis because that fear becomes contagious. The thought process of fear is a slippery slope.
Getting to the Root of the Fear
Until you become aware of how and why you are thinking the way you do; that is to say—get to the root of the fear; it won’t end. For example, if you know that an active addict is not going to be a reliable person then why would you keep worrying that they will do something unreliable?
A person has to understand what the real fear is before they can face it head on.
Here are a few examples of how to combat the fear and start to change our fear-based thinking patterns.
Fear-based thought – “I feel stuck. I don’t know where to go from here.”
Positive affirmation – “I have so many options. I can do anything I set my mind to.”
Fear-based thought – “I won’t be able to live without the addict, I love him so much.”
Positive affirmation – “I was independent before I met the addict and I can do it again. If this person is causing me pain, I am better off being on my own.”
Fear-based thought – “I rely on the addict financially and I cannot leave. I am scared to leave because what if I don’t make it.”
Positive affirmation – “I have lived with the uncertainty of the addict, living with the uncertainty of finances for a while pales in comparison. It might be a setback for a while but I will ask for support until I can stand on my own two feet again.”
When you catch yourself basing your thoughts and decisions in fear, you can powerfully affirm the opposite. Make a strong statement out loud because if you say it and your subconscious can hear it, it will start to do the things it hears. If all of your life you hear that you are stupid, you will probably end up thinking you are stupid, just like if the addict tells you enough times that you are crazy, you start to second guess your own sanity. If words and repetition can send you down a slippery, negative and fearful slope, telling yourself the opposite, out loud, can have the opposing effect.