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Guide to Ending a Relationship with a Drug Addict and Moving On

Man and woman talk about breaking up with an addict

In the movies when two people fall in love, what follows is marriage, kids, and the house with the white picket fence. Reality is a lot more complicated and not every relationship will end in happily ever after. Especially when you throw addiction into the mix, a breakup may seem inevitable. However, addiction treatment programs designed to provide personalized treatment can help.

Being in a Relationship with an Addict

Anyone who has someone they care about struggling with substance use understands that addiction affects more than just the person using drugs. Loved ones often get dragged along for the ride and end up hurt. Romantic partners especially can be pulled through the wringer when the person refuses to get addiction treatment. Being married to or dating an individual with a substance use disorder can be problematic. Addiction may lead you and your partner to:

  • Lie to each other
  • Cover up harmful behaviors
  • Make excuses
  • Lose trust in the relationship

This type of relationship dynamic can be unhealthy for both of you. Sometimes the best option is to walk away and break up with your partner.

The Dos and Don’ts of Breaking Up with Someone with an Addiction

In general, breakups are hard, but when ending a relationship with an individual with a substance use disorder, the situation may be even more complicated. If you weren’t aware of the extent of your partner’s substance misuse before entering the relationship, you may feel in over your head now. Additionally, if you were together before they started misusing drugs and alcohol, your partner may be almost unrecognizable now. If your loved one’s substance use got worse after getting married, you may be worried about your family’s future. Ending a relationship with a drug addict or alcoholic isn’t easy, but sometimes it needs to be done. These breakup tips may help you both move forward.

Do Wait Until They Are Sober

Breaking up with an addict while they are still under the influence of drugs could spell disaster. If they are high or drunk, they likely won’t be thinking straight, may act out, and could even forget the breakup the next day. Instead, try to wait until they are sober, so you can have a more rational conversation.

Don’t Hold a Grudge

It is natural to want to point fingers or place the blame entirely on your partner’s addiction, but holding onto these feelings isn’t healthy. Remember that addiction is a disease and your partner needs help. If you continue to dwell on the past and hold a grudge against them, you will never be able to move forward.

Do Put Your Safety First

Alcohol and drugs can sometimes cause people to act in ways they regret. If you are breaking up with an alcoholic or addict who sometimes gets violent or has been aggressive with you in the past, make sure you put your safety first. End the relationship in a public place like a park so others are around just in case. You could also have a friend nearby who would be able to intervene if necessary. If your partner threatens you or your loved ones, do take it seriously and report it.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You

Breakups are emotional, but when you let your emotions control you, they could make the situation worse. It is easy to lose your own temper, but shouting back will only escalate the situation. Do your best to stay calm throughout the breakup. If you think you might lose control of your emotions, it is okay to walk away to collect yourself. You can indulge or analyze these emotions once you are away from your ex.

Do Practice Self-Care

Even if you are the one ending the relationship, you still need time to heal. Especially if you are breaking up with an addict you love, you may be feeling emotionally drained and depressed. Don’t be afraid to get professional mental health care if you need to as a therapist could guide you through this challenging time.

Don’t Give In

When your ex starts pleading with you to take them back or saying they will change, you may be tempted to give in, but stand your ground. You are breaking up with them for a reason. The only way for both of you to move forward is to cut off all unnecessary communication.

Do What Is Best for You

While you may feel guilty for leaving a partner who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you need to do what is best for you. Staying in a relationship with an addict can be toxic and do serious harm to your mental and sometimes even physical health. Remember, there is a difference between being supportive and enabling addiction. You walking away may be the reality check your partner needs to finally get help. Ending a relationship with an individual struggling with addiction doesn’t have to be forever. If they do get treatment (and not just say they will), then you could consider reentering their life. Keep in mind that it is usually recommended that people avoid dating in early recovery, so be a supportive friend until at least a year passes, and then you can discuss reconciling the relationship if you both desire.

Find Hope and Healing at Vertava Health Mississippi

At Vertava Health Mississippi, we work with people struggling with substance use as well as their loved ones. We offer programs for families of drug addicts and alcoholics so that everyone can move forward. Reach out to us today at 844.470.0410 to begin the healing journey.