We’ve been seeing what happens when addiction takes over a relationship. The people in the relationship disappear and the needs of the addiction consume everything. If you’re the person with the addiction, your job is to recover. If you’re the other person, your job is to recognize the diseased portion of the relationship, stay connected with the healthy parts, and get help.
Once addiction begins to take over a relationship, never try to take care of your sick partner yourself. It’s too dangerous. It took possession of your loved one and now it’s coming for you. You need someone objective, preferably someone who understands addiction and its effect on relationships. Someone who isn’t afraid to tell the hard truth, but also someone who can say it delicately so people can listen.
It might be obvious that an addicted person needs a doctor, but when addiction is in charge, they don’t go. Addiction doesn’t like what doctors have to say. It would rather she be in a state of denial, so that it can work its evil in secret. (Although there are some special conditions like addiction to prescription medication that try to enlist doctors in the pathology.) You can tell how much your loved one has succumbed to addiction by how cooperatively he works with the people meant to help him. If it seems like he’s always fighting with them, it’s really the addiction trying to defend itself.
If the addicted person is working with a doctor, then the non-addicted partner needs to, also. The non-addicted partner needs to understand the illness and treatment. The doctor may need information about the condition that only the non-addicted partner can provide. You, your partner, and the professionals need to form a team that works together, not in isolation from each other.
There are several factors that get in the way of a treatment team effectively working together.
The first is when the people who are supposed to treat illness fall under its spell. Anyone who has ever been around an anxious person knows that anxiety is contagious. People dealing with the depressed often fall into despair. It’s easy to get inflexible when you try to cope with a rigid person. Wives will wait on a husband hand and foot when he is supposed to get up and be active himself. Husbands of addicts have been known to score drugs for their darlings, to keep them safe. Divisions are created between the people who are attempting to treat the illness and the ones facilitating it.
The second most common barrier is put up by partners who attempt to protect the sanctity of their marriage. They believe it’s a betrayal of their partner to get help, a violation of boundaries. To be sure, some addicted partners will see it that way. He may be angry if you tell on him. However, the sanctity of the marriage has already been violated when the addiction moved in and refused to leave. You’re not telling on him, you are informing on the addiction. You’re not betraying your loved one; you’re protecting him from a common enemy that has him bamboozled.
If your addicted partner will get help to combat his addiction, that’s very good. If she won’t, then that should not stop you from getting help yourself. Remember, you’re next in line to succumb to the madness. Meet your friend for coffee, unload to your family, make an appointment with that counselor, if only so you can keep things straight and stay in contact with a rational world.