Why an Addict Can’t Love You How You Need

Substance abuse is well known for ending relationships. The stress created by addiction overwhelms and frustrates the one who tries to love the person in the grip of alcohol or drugs. However, understanding the nature of addiction can help you change how you love and possibly save the relationship until your loved one recovers.

At Myrtle Beach Recovery, you or your loved one receive personalized substance abuse recovery. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your loved one understand their past and motivate them toward a sober and meaningful future.

The Loss of Choice

It is a common mistake to believe that addicts choose their behavior. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) teaches that alcoholics have “lost the power of choice in drink.” AA further states that an addict’s “willpower becomes practically non-existent” (p.24). AA made these observations at the time but did not have the science to support them. Today, however, science has a much greater understanding of an addict’s behavior.

Today science confirms that addiction is a disease that affects the brain. Specifically, substance abuse damages the part of the brain where decisions are made. The prefrontal cortex is where you choose beneficial behaviors such as avoiding alcohol and drugs, having a job, and maintaining healthy relationships. The addict you love has diminished ability to make these healthy choices, including returning the love you so strongly desire.

The Destructive Behaviors

Loving an addict can make you feel like you are simultaneously in a romance novel and a horror story. First, you are in love with this amazing person with whom you see such positive qualities. Yet, in the next moment, you see hardly lovable behavior. The truth is that most addicts demonstrate behaviors that strain and often destroy relationships, such as:

  • Deceitfulness. This includes lying about their substance use, where they are going at particular times, and who their friends are.
  • Isolation. At times your loved one withdraws, becomes distant, and secretive about things such as their finances.
  • Manipulatiion. You can experience deep disappointment when you realize that sometimes your beloved addict has disguised their manipulation of you as love. Forgiving someone for acting kind and loving only as a pretext for asking for money can be challenging.
  • Irresponsibity. Whether paying their bills or meeting you for dinner, your loved one is not the dependable person you once knew. This often causes long-term consequences such as a lost job or bankruptcy.
  • Abusive. Maybe the most destructive behavior is an addict’s abusiveness which can be physical, emotional, or verbal. This can be a complicated and possibly criminal behavior that should not be overlooked.

The Hope of Persistent Love

It helps to understand that your loved one does not suffer from weak character or lack of self-discipline. Instead, they have a disease that affects their brain and their ability to make choices such as loving you. Therefore, your relationship has changed and faces new challenges. One of these challenges is that your love may call for actions that ordinarily would seem hurtful and cold to non-addicts.

Fortunately, you now have hope that your persistent love can help reap the rewards of sobriety for your loved one. Research shows that addiction can be successfully managed like other chronic diseases. In addition, scientists have demonstrated that even the brain can recover from the damage of substance abuse.

It may be the road less traveled, but many have persisted in love and regained a meaningful relationship with a recovered loved one.

Consider Myrtle Beach Recovery

Myrtle Beach Recovery’s residential program includes time with a group, specialized classes, and individual counseling. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of our 12-Step Immersion recovery program.