How to Stay Sober When a Family Member is Addicted


Sober Recovery Expert Author


One of the hardest things we can grapple with as an addict is how to stay sober when someone we know and love is living in addiction. Often times, this can be someone we still live in the same household with, such as a parent, child or spouse.

The good thing is that it is very possible to stay sober when we live with an addict; it just involves different coping methods. Knowing our own boundaries and keeping in touch with our own personal sobriety, staying strong and using our tools to stay sober, all come into play when dealing with someone we love who is still an addict.

Staying sober when a family member is addicted isn't impossible. It only means we have different work to do and situations to assess.

1. Be a source of support.

When a family member is addicted, we will want to pass along our sobriety and help them find recovery just like we did. This might help, but it's also possible that our goodwill may fall on deaf ears. In that case, we can continue to provide support to ourselves and be ready to offer support if our loved one wants to come to us and talk about getting sober.

2. View him or her as a teaching tool.

When we live with someone who's still an addict, it can be a painful reminder of our own addiction problems, but it can also serve as a way for us to grow and learn more about our addictions. When we're an addict, we have little boundaries. We feel out of control and strung along by our disease. As a sober person, we can learn to begin enforcing proper boundaries and things that support our recovery. We can choose not to take part in the dramas that other people may bring to our lives and that stem from their own addiction. We can choose not to be treated poorly by engaging in less contact with that person.

3. Physically remove yourself when possible.

Avoiding our addicted family member at all costs may not always be an option. When you're living with someone who is also going through addiction, our only option might be to physically leave the house. Taking a walk, going to a support group, talking to a friend or engaging in a healthy activity that gets us out of the house for a little bit can help bolster our strength to stay sober. It's not as if we're turning our cheek to their addiction, but we are drawing boundary lines that help us put our sobriety first, so that we can keep ourselves available for our loved one to come to us when they're ready to talk about dealing with their own addiction. However, if our health, sobriety or lives are in danger by living with an addicted family member, it is always a good idea to reassess our living situation and find safer circumstances that support our sobriety, either short-term or long-term.

4. Cut off ties if needed.

Many spouses find themselves in a co-dependent and addictive relationship. Couples tend to feed off each other's addictions, each person enabling the other in a co-dependent loop. It isn't easy to pull away from this and assert our individuality when needed. Just because we're ready to get sober doesn't mean that the other person is. If this is the case, we can choose to pull ourselves out and get ourselves healthy, without feeling guilty.

Our relationships are all different and involve different people. We need to assess the situation we're in, decide what we're willing to put up with and what we can handle, and act accordingly. Just because someone we love is an addict doesn't mean that we have to be one as well. We are all responsible for our own individual sobriety and our own path to recovery.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-772-8219 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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