“I just want to help them get well.”

This is something we hear a lot from people who are living with someone else’s addiction.

Let’s call them a loved one, even if you might hate them at times because of their behaviour, and because the person you love has been taken over by addiction.

Living with someone else’s addiction is tough. Our day might start with a haunted feeling of fear, sadness and anxiety combined with a hope that today might be different because it might be the day they finally decide that enough is enough.

We might also feel tense waiting for the next dramatic thing to happen around us.

Today might be one of those days when they break down in tears and ask for our help, (which we are always immediately ready to give) and these are good days because we are ready for action and there’s a flash of light at the end of this dark tunnel that we’ve been stuck in.

But at the same time, we might worry it’ll be like the last time they asked us for help, and we gave it, and it didn’t work.

Or it might be one of those terrifying days where they’ve gone missing, and our mind is filled with all the terrible things that might happen to such a vulnerable person out there. We try not to think of those terrible things, but the thoughts won’t go away.

Or it may turn out to be a day when they stay in bed, and we have to tip-toe around the house trying not to wake them up. These can be the best days for us, more peaceful, because after all, they’re in bed and we know where they are. We can keep them safe. For now. Until they leave us. Again.

We might feel that if we don’t try our hardest to help them get well, that they will die. We might feel like we are keeping them alive. That is a lot of pressure, and a lot of stress.

Our whole world has been taken over by this person’s addiction. No amount of pleading, threatening, or leaving and coming back again is making them get help.

We hear it all the time, it’s an illness, they can’t help it. And this is true. But another truth is we ourselves, are living with trauma. Maybe they are too unwell to hear us cry. Where is our support? They sadly cannot give it to us. And we deserve love and care and kindness ourselves. Could we possibly be co-dependent?

In her book, Co-dependent No More, Melody Beattie defines a co-dependent person as one who has let another person’s behaviour affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behaviour.

Maybe we have been trying so hard to help someone get well, that we have lost ourselves in the process.

If only they would stop. If they stopped, everything would be okay. I would be okay. Life would be okay.

It’s helpful to remember that none of us have control over people, places, or things. No matter how hard we try. Our loved ones will only get well when they are ready. But we do have a right to look after ourselves at the same time.

We can intentionally choose not to have our lives completely controlled by someone else’s addiction, and we can ask for help to find a way to live for ourselves.

We can help you with this in our Family and Carer’s Groups. You can talk with a qualified counsellor who has lived experience of addiction and recovery within families.

You will have access to our small, free, and confidential groups, which offer non-judgmental support and understanding specific to the issues faced by family members, as well as practical advice, education, and strategies or ‘tools’ to deal with addiction in the family system.

You will be able to share experiences safely, obtaining freedom from isolation among others with similar experiences. Attendees of this support group often start to build for themselves a positive lifestyle, regardless of whether the person living with the addiction gains recovery.

If this is something you’d like to explore for yourself, please call us for a chat on 0300 365 0304 or you can visit our website to contact us online.