How to live with an addict

When you live with an addict, you must focus on the positive. More on co-addiction and how positivity precipitates positivity here.

minute read

Fatigue makes everything more difficult

Since my son’s birth, one and a half years ago, I have not had one decent night’s sleep. He wakes three to four times a night, screaming. Regardless of what time he goes to bed, he wakes at five am. I am a morning person. When my daughter was small, I used to wake an hour before her, so I could have time to myself, organize, and start my day. This small routine is what helped be more productive. With my son, this has been impossible, and almost every day has been a challenge. I go to sleep with him, exhausted, and wake long before I even want to, to him jumping on top of me. I am tired more, finding the mental focus to work has been difficult, and time alone has been almost impossible.

By the grace of God, two nights in a row my son slept through the night. The second day, I woke up before him, went downstairs and got everything ready before he awoke. I settled into my home office to check some work emails and when I turned around he was happily running into towards me smiling and saying, “Momma.” After the warmest hug, he sat still at breakfast with his sister and fed himself! Later, when I took him to the store, something I usually tried to avoid, he fell asleep I was able to shop in peace. While I was waiting on line, the man behind me struck up a conversation about all the organic and healthy food he saw in my cart. He turned out to be an extremely generous man who owned an entire ranch helping families in crisis, housing more than forty troubled children. He actually lived around the corner from me and I didn’t know it. What an inspirational conversation we had. The rest of the day was more of the same.

Then I realized something. If every night was difficult and sleep was sparse, it was going to affect my health, my mood, my behavior, my outlook, and my ability to be productive. Somehow I made it work, knowing it was a temporary situation and because of the love I have for my child.

Negativity precipitates negativity

I mentally pressed rewind and went back four years. At that time, I was not sleeping because I was up worried most nights when my husband would not come home. You see, codependency and control issues are often difficult to distinguish.   I was taking care of a little girl on my own, my husband was bringing drugs into my home, and we were slowly going into financial ruin.

Every time I would try to be positive, something bad would happen. I was in a vicious cycle but I did not know it. Negativity precipitates negativity. The more negative thoughts, behavior,and events that entered my life, the more negativity I attracted. If there was positive in my life, I could not see it or attract it.

Getting ready for change

When I had my moment of clarity and I realized I was sick of my life the way it was, I made a change. Letting go of my addict husband was a process that helped me.  I started going to meetings for families like mine, I sought a therapist, I mentally left my husband, and then shortly after, physically.

I started to let a little positive in each day. I made myself read positive affirmations daily. I interviewed for a job opportunity I really wanted and got the job. My father happened to be retiring the same time. I had to work again full time to be the sole supporter of my daughter, and he offered to take on a bigger role and help take care of my child. I reconnected with friends I had lost touch with who helped nurse me back to life. Everything started to come together in a way that forced, even the once skeptical me, to believe was some divine synchronicity.

How to live with an addict: change the focus

When you are caught in the cycle of addiction, life may seem hopeless. If you decide to stop talking to the addict, or stay in their life, either way, you can still make a choice to silence the negative and accentuate the positive. Once you start looking for the positive things about you, and your life, you will start to find them. Once you find them, more will become attracted to you. Eventually you will be taking the emphasis off of the negativity of the addict’s behavior and focus on what is positive within you.

Living with an addict questions

Do you still have questions or want to share your situation with us? Please leave us a message in the comments section below. We do our best to respond to all questions personally and promptly.

About the author
Amanda Andruzzi, MPH, AADP, CHES, is a Certified Health Coach, founder of Symptom-Free Wellness, and the author of Hope Street. Her first book, Hope Street memoir is an inspirational story of one woman's frightening journey of co-addiction that led her to uncover courage, unbelievable strength and overcome great adversity. She resides with her daughter, husband, and two sons in Florida.


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  1. I am 20 years old and live at home. My older brother (28) lives at home with me too as well as my older sister (37) and her 2 kids (age 5 & 15) my parents aren’t home often as they travel for work. Both my siblings at home with me are addicts, addicted to different drugs however both not doing well. My brother stays in his room most of the time and is quiet, other than the odd night where the cops show up because he called 911 while high in the middle of the night. My sister on the other hand is loud and obnoxious and she trashes the house along with her youngest who is 5. Both her kids aren’t in school. I struggle with anxiety and at times depression. It’s hard for me to be home, so it’s a place I always avoid. I want to move out however it’s difficult for me to do that as I’m not financially able to right now. We have tried to help both of them but not much of any progress is ever made. I’m not sure what to do.

    1. Hi Rachel. Have your siblings or your family tried to find or ever been to rehab? Also, if you believe that your sister’s kids are living in an unhealthy environment you can call the child protective services. They can mandate your sister to attend rehab. Another option is staging an intervention. An experienced interventionist can guide the talk objectively. Call the number you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted admission navigator who can connect you with an internationalist. Another important thing you should have in mind is that your biggest priority is you and your life. In the end, you are not responsible for anyone but yourself. Work on your education and finding a steady job. You are young and your life is ahead of you. Eventually things will get better. Stay strong and good luck.

    2. Rachel,
      your anxiety and depression is a byproduct of this situation and you need to seek help. Try al-anon and therapy and also try to do whatever you need to do to move out and work towards that goal.
      Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, AADP
      author, Hope Street,

  2. I have been with my husband 33yrs. I knew he used drugs when I met him. I was 23 at the time and was nieve about drugs. He introduced me to them and I became his party partner. I didnt like the wffects of the crack,that was his favorite. After a few years I began to protest about the drug use. He always stoped but would eventually restart. He has been clean for over 10 yrs now. Within the past 4 yrs he can gone into renal failure and other medical problems. I have been caring for him all this time. As of Jan he has begun using again. After the last go round I told him if he started using again I would file for divorce and leave. I have now filed for divorce and and am now torn about leaving due to his medical condition. He does not believe he is hurting anyone. I dont know what to do.

  3. denese,
    there are no guarantees but you know in your gut if an addict is serious about their recovery. I suggest you use that feeling and also set boundaries and keep them. Enabling them will start that cycle all over again. You have things you expect and if they are broken then you have to follow through with what you said you were going to do.
    Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, from the wife of an addict View the video book trailer:

  4. I am at a loss as to what to do I love my boyfriend he drinks and pretty much gets high on what ever he can find but lately for the last twenty eight days for the second time is in rehab I told him he could come home in which he gets out wed but I am scared that I am not ready and I feel horrible cause I led him to believe I was but I’m scared of the same things happening again

  5. Monique,
    Regardless of what you think, you have rights. If you feel unsafe you can let the police know he is an addict and you want him to leave your home and with drug tests this won’t be too difficult to prove. You can get an order of protection and take him to court. A judge will take an addicted parent very seriously and they don’t just take it lightly or take his word for it. He will have mandated supervised visits until he can maintain sobriety. It won’t be pretty or fun but it will give you freedom from this life of living with an addict. You will have to do it and do everything you can to protect yourself by being appointed or hiring an attorney, whatever you can afford. It takes time but it will be over someday. If someone is using drugs in your home, you have rights and it is in your best interest to discuss what they are with an attorney or with the police in your area. I just walked away and refused to let him be alone with our child because I knew he was using and deep down so did he so for me it was a little more amicable, but not easy. I went to court, I filed for an order of protection and I saw an attorney. I was determined and I was not going to live like that anymore. Don’t feel alone or defeated, you are not!
    Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, from the wife of an addict View the video book trailer:

  6. You have lots of articles about dealing with the addict spouse but is there an article about how to safely leave an addicted spouse? I have been trying to leave for a few months now, one time I even packed up the truck with all my belongings so I wouldn’t ever have to come back, but then I felt completely unsure how to make the next move! I was too scared of what he could do and I didn’t know my rights either, so I ended up returning home after four days away. The truck stayed packed for another week but now it has been a couple months and everything is packed back into the house and put in their places again. I’m scared is because we have two little kids, 1 and 3….so please! How do I leave???

  7. I’m reading through each of your articles trying to satisfy my need to know how safe o am if I leave my husband. I am finally registering that I am totally in the cycle if negativity and lies and sadness etc that you have described in all your articles do I realize now I need to take me and my two toddlers away from here. The problem I have is that they both totally love their dad because he tries hard to make them like him but that’s exactly what causes so much conflict between us. He doesn’t realize how much he undermines my credit as mother to these children so they are not learning respect at all and they know they can put Dad against Mom when she is trying to do anything which is caring for them like putting them to bed or brushing their hair or clearing their nose. So I always have to wait until Dad is gone so I can do these things without them being able to get me in trouble. I have no joy in my children because of it. So I guess I need to leave before they get any older in these and other not mentioned bad perceptions.

    So anyway, I am trying to decide how safe we will be. Do I hide from him. But I believe he will come looking for me at my work or if I stay in town what happens if we run into him or worse, what happens if the kids are with a babysitter and he either runs into them or went looking for them, what then? Sovthen ifbi go ahead with an actual divorce, he will fight for custody and I have no real evidence of his addiction so will he win partial custody? Or worse still, he got me a domestic violence e charge because of how bad he has made me feel for trying to defend myself against the loneliness I have felt from his addiction and turning my kids against me so I kicked holes in the bedroom door when he was being cruel to me when I needed to be heard and he shut the door on my face. Thee a bit more detail why he called the police but I won’t rule all of it yet unless it’s necessary to know. So, will that give him clout? I feel so trapped!! I need to safely get me and the babies away for good.

  8. Leigh, Esther, Shareese,
    The advice you are looking for and the confirmation you need is that it is okay to let your loved one who is an addict know that you are serious when you say that they go into recovery or you are not sticking around. It is okay to take care of yourself and stop the cycle of addiction in your life. It is okay to stick to your word and in fact, if you do, you actually help the addict. If they know there is a revolving door, they won’t take you or your ultimatums seriously. You need to care for yourself; your own sanity & your well-being or how can you take care of anyone else? If that means meaning what you say by leaving then it is okay to do that, for you, for your children…
    Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, from the wife of an addict View the video book trailer:

  9. My husband is chronic drinker and also cocaine user(months to months basis). I told him if he goes out to get high again we are done and he agreed. So it is best to go ahead and stick with what we said right?

  10. Wow, I don’t know where to begin, I have been married for 30 years in Aug, and my husband has been on drugs for I will say 29 of those years. ..he is tottaly outta control, what I don’t understand is HOW, can you be clean for 4 years and relapse, u go right back to the drugs, we have a 17cyear old son and he now knows his dad’s issues, at this point now he is on a binge, I am so tired of the up and down in our marriage, the many jobs that u don’t keep, now he has a good job again that he only is keeping to keep up with his drugs. He is a good man and good father, but where does the madness stop.i need to know what to do to help me and my son, this has to end somewhere, this circle just never stops, I’ve taken him from the dope house, ive paid the dope man, I have had him take my car and been gone and returned once I find it and take it back, I have been on this rollercoaster ride off and on for 29 years and I’m ready for some direction, this is too much

  11. My husband alcohol and cocaine abuser was clean for two months. Started using again last month. He sincerely wants to quitt – puts in alot of effort to go to meetings. Helping around housr amd with kids. He noticed how much better we had been getting along. Is a relapse something i should look at as a blip in his porgress. He’s not drank/drugs since he was caught. Even during sports games!Should i look at the positive and try to be supportive again? I’m really trying all the co-dependance rules. Im not nagging/shaming (trting) , i’m focussing on myself and trying not to use extreme language like evertjing in my life is horrible etc. He has to drug test every four days – if positive he has to leave. He didn’t leave last time because i made a deal with him if he tells me details of when where why he bought last time i wouldn’t make him leave. How many times should a person relapse before you know they are never going to get better. I read my ppst in dec and i do feel like i’m not facing reality.
    Thank you for your support Amanda. I will be getting your book.

  12. Andrea,
    I apologize for the delayed response. Posts don’t always get to me and this one did not until now.

    I doubt things have changed for you at least on his part and I know what you are feeling. I had great moments with my ex-husband but they were short-lived because the bad ones always overshadowed them. This is not the life you want and I want to help empower you to have the life you deserve, I highly doubt this is it.
    The only way for you to take back the control and happiness into your own life is to try to stop worrying about and controlling him. You have given him ample opportunity and that is all you can do. The rest was up to him and it did not pan out. He is not ready to stop using and that is not your fault. Go with your instincts here; if you don’t love him for the way he is treating you that is good, if you think something is wrong to be in this relationship, it is, and if you are thinking of getting out, you should!
    He can’t change right now or maybe ever but you can! You can let go and stop putting all your energy into him and put the energy back into making your life, the way you see it.
    Andrea, I hope you start believing in yourself because once you do, you will no longer be able to tolerate this. Self-confidence is the number one attribute most co-addicts lack. I know because I was one. I wrote about it, to help other people who could not move on from a drug addicted loved one. I hope you keep searching for answers here, my blog and book are a wealth of information for you. I want to help, keep me posted.
    Best, Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a moot from a co-addict

  13. Hi I’m in a relationship with a drug addict for 3 years, our first year an halph he wasn’t using drugs, at least he wasn’t obvious. I loved him so much I gave him a emotional support in his recent detox and rehab. I’m codependent but because of his addiction I became more codependent. I just started to go to my codependent meetings. I’m very depressed because he is using drugs again. He left his rehab four months ago and he started to use drugs two months after rehab, he is using at least once a week. I feel so desrespected when he doesn’t come home. I can’t take that anymore. We just move to a beautiful house, we made big resolutions together. I just want be respected after all support I gave to him he should go to the meetings every week and at least don’t spend a night out. His attitudes with me is so toxic that I’m not sure if I still love him anymore.
    Will be so sad to finish that relationship but every time he relapse and don’t do anything about it he pushes me away from him. I already recent him so bad. Today is December 31 we are going to be home, like any other day, we are like strangers living in the same house.

  14. My husband is really outta control! He lost both of his jobs within a couple days apart! He used to work for my landlord but stole from one of his tenets! Now in trouble wit his probation officer! He tried to reschedule his appointment but his Po said no I’m not rescheduling it again! I’m afraid he’s going to run and we have been together for 17 years! Have 3 kids together and one on the way! I’m so depressed don’t know how to cope with this! He said that he sorry it wont ever happen again but it goes on and on then he said he’s not going to get treatment! I asked him why he said it don’t work! I don’t know what to do! Please help me

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