Fill in the blank here. Addicted spouse, sibling, friend.
Living with someone who is addicted is hard and you have had enough. The lying, manipulating is bad enough. Your loved one swears they are not using but you know the signs. They are not going to rehab as they said.
Why won’t they get help? Why are they lying? Why are they torturing you like this?
You think they are selfish and unkind but what you are seeing is the disease. Your loved one is buried under all that behavior. They have not surrendered to the fact they have a problem. And you probably haven’t surrendered to the fact that you need recovery, too. Your reactions to their disease are probably not helping. Because it’s cloudy when you’re trying to control the outcome over which you have no power. What’s more, it’s exhausting.
You are so tired of it and feel like you are a prisoner in your own home, afraid to leave your room at night for fear of what you might find. You are more terrified to walk into their room and find they are not breathing.
This has to stop or you will go out of your mind.
Watching someone you love more than your own soul succumb to this disease is not a bad movie, it’s your life. Pulling yourself out of the chaos emotionally is exceptionally challenging when your loved with SUD lives with you.
I have been there. And I’m going to level with you. There are no perfect solutions.
If they are 25 years old, they should be on their own supporting themselves. That’s what we do in the United States. But deciding what to do next is not a decision you should have to make. There should be solutions within the healthcare system for this disease like every other disease out there. For COVID we set up temporary hospitals but there are no rescue operations for the addicted–despite mortality numbers that eclipse almost any other disease, virus, or illness.
Many parents will rent or buy a place away from them for their loved one who is sick from substance use disorder. What usually ends up happening is that place away from you becomes a hangout to sell, buy, and do drugs. The parents find out, become more discouraged. And poorer.
I know parents whose kids have lived in the woods outside their home, the garage, the tool shed, a relative’s farm, a treehouse, or jail.
But what do you do?
Asking someone whom you know to be sick to leave your home when they have nowhere to go is not a move we want to make. And if you ask them to leave and they die? We fear living with that guilt.
We are sure it would then be our fault because we turned a sick person away, our own child in many cases, and now we have to live with our decision. We fear living with them as they are, too.
Before I go further into this conversation, let’s change the language.
Well-meaning friends say, “Kick him out of the house”
They wouldn’t find that so easy if it were their own. So eliminate the thought of “kicking” or “throwing” anyone out of the house.
For the sake of your own mental health and the safety of you and others in the household, you simply have found it impossible to live with your loved one suffering from SUD (substance use disorder or addiction).
Or maybe you haven’t yet found a solution with which you could live with your loved one who uses. Maybe their being there has made your relationship toxic and you need space to think without the constant worry of the safety of those in your home.
Know that if you ask them to move out, they will pull out every stop to make you feel like the worst human being alive. You are the worst parent, sibling, spouse, etc. Even if you offer a generous deadline. The person struggling with addiction can’t see past their habit. Their brains are holding them hostage and telling them that they NEED their drug and to maintain whatever circumstances they can to keep the supply coming.
They don’t want to go to sober living either
They’ll do anything to make you feel guilty for making that the option. Screaming, yelling, accusing you of not loving you sort of argument. After all, they know your soft spots and desperation has backed them into a corner and they’ll bring out their harshest weapons of love. Of course, a recovery house isn’t an option if they are using. They’d never qualify which is why you are in this quandary in the first place.
But if they are coming out of recovery? That’s where they should be. And that’s advice from those who fought it, lived through it, and found recovery. They’ll find friendship and support in a recovery house that holds them accountable.
Whatever you do right now has to come from a place of love and empathy. Making your love a bargaining chip contingent on their finding help will only add to their shame and accelerate their feelings of worthlessness. There is no way to shame someone into recovery.
In our situation, Charles went to detox, rehab, recovery house where he relapsed. They took him back to detox and he walked out of there. We had paid rent at the recovery house and that was the option we made available. The rest was up to him.
I know you wish I’d give you a recipe on how to usher them out gently with some sort of transition housing they’d qualify for as active users. And while there are those who’d say you are “enabling” them if you allow them to stay, I would never pass that judgment if that’s where you ended up.
Because this is an impossible situation, a gut-wrenching choice. And what you do depends on your individual situation, what you can and can’t live with.
What I will say is that you should become more educated and find support for yourself. Those who are in support groups have been through this and have weighed all the options and it’s where you’ll find more stories, examples, pros and cons. Because this is a family problem. And the answers are not easy.