Addiction and Relationships: It's Not a Competition of What is Loved More
“They just loved drugs more.”
How many times have you heard this phrase (or some variation of it) used in regards to an addict?
I’ve heard it a ton through the years, and even just recently saw it on a TikTok video of some politician talking about how he adopted his kids. Now, I’m not bashing him or anyone else who uses this phrase, and I can admit that when I was less informed I also came to this conclusion, but honestly I just don’t believe it to be correct.
When someone has an issue with an addiction, it can seem that their priorities are out of order. And I would agree with that. I mean, how could they not be? Addictive, mind-altering substances of any kind can do that to you. And I'm sure anyone can acknowledge the fact that an addict is putting their vice at the top of the list of important things in their life, and that’s because they have a serious, multi-leveled issue that can be incredibly difficult to overcome.
But that statement or belief isn’t emotionally loaded. It’s simple, and it is just an objective reasoning that comes from what you can see from your own experience, no matter how limited your perspective is. Maybe it’s just from a movie or some other piece of media, or it’s an acquaintance that you don’t know too well.
But when that person with the addiction is your family member, your partner, someone else close to you or involved in something you care about, or involves a current belief you have, it can be a lot easier to have those objective perspectives become a little more cloudy and hurtful.
And that’s where this statement of loving drugs more comes from.
As I said before, this was something that took up space in my mind in years past, and I can fully admit to that. Was it something I actually believed though deep down in my soul? No. But I can see where it can come from.
When you have someone close to you that is struggling, it can be frustrating to see them do harm to themselves and their lives seemingly with no regard to the consequences, and many times we can’t logically reason as to why they would do that. And when you have a strong connection with them, it can be easy to be hurt by their actions and take them on a more personal level.
I mean, if they supposedly care so much about me then why are they doing this? Can’t they see it’s hurting not only themselves but ME, too?
And since we can’t figure out why they are continuing this downward spiral, and why they can seem to put the drugs first out of everything else going on (and over things we care about), we deduce that maybe we aren’t as special as we once thought we were to them. Maybe they do just love the drugs more than us.
For me, I wondered why he couldn’t see that I was just coming from a place of care.
Or why he couldn’t see that he was upsetting our daughter.
Or why he couldn’t see what he was doing to me emotionally and mentally.
Or why he couldn’t see that I just wanted to have a happy life with him.
And so on.
And I mean, it’s not like there aren't places to get help, right? There are rehabs, there are outpatient facilities, there are options.
Why can’t you just get better already?
And then it turns into resentment.
Well clearly he just doesn’t care. He just doesn’t want a family. It’s just not enough of a reason to get help. All he cares about is himself.
I mean it’s so obvious, isn’t it?
But we’ve got it all wrong.
Now of course, like with anything, I won’t say that anything is 100% true for every single person and situation.
But at least for my partner (and I’m sure tons of other people out there), it wasn’t a question of what he loved more. It was all a matter of survival.
I learned years later that he hated how things were. He was miserable, he was broken, he was hurting, and he was stuck.
It wasn’t about what he loved more, and in fact, he didn’t love the drugs at all. How could he, when they had taken so much from him?
He was simply trapped in a situation where he couldn’t see a way out, and despite well-meaning people trying to offer help, it wasn’t necessarily something that could be fixed so quickly or permanently.
When someone is in a place like that, it can be hard to admit that you need help at all, and even if you are able to, it can be a challenge to actually put in the effort to receive that help. And I can relate to that in my own way from my own journey of bettering my life, as I’m sure many of us can. And then when you add onto that the fact that they are under the influence of things that can alter their state of mind, you can begin to see why the whole thing can be a bit of a mess.
And that’s what I’m trying to do here.
I know it can be difficult to see past your emotions and your own state of mind, and I am very aware of the mental and emotional baggage that we as the partners can carry around. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
While we can’t control our partners and whether or not they recover, we can absolutely control ourselves and whether or not we recover in our own ways. We have the ability to stop continuing to hurt ourselves with limiting and false beliefs, and to see that other people in our lives are just doing the best they can with what they have at any given time. Whether or not we see that as right isn’t the point, as they can be dealing with their own demons in their own way. Our only job is to make sure we are taking care of ourselves the best we can, and continue to grow from there.
And, in the case that our loved one does decide to get help, this approach ensures that we can actually support them in a way that does good for all involved.
And this applies to everyone in our life, not just those with addiction. If we want to be a good friend, parent, partner, and person in all our life’s relationships, while thriving in our own right, we must be committed to putting ourselves first and caring for our own well-beings above all else, so that we can have fulfilling experiences on all levels for everyone involved. Which also includes believing less statements like the one I mentioned at the start of this.
Because it’s not about who or what is loved more, who is right or wrong, or any other competitions or judgments like these.
It’s about seeing things for what they are from a clearer perspective, and making conscious, healthy choices and actions from there.