Do you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol? While you would likely do whatever you can to support them, think again before you offer to let them live with you. Although addicts do benefit from support from loved ones, there is a fine line between supporting versus enabling someone with an ongoing addiction. By setting boundaries with them, you can save a lot of potential aggravation, heartache, and even money or the loss of your belongings should they have sticky fingers.
The idea of cutting off your loved one may feel callous, especially if you feel you are their only hope to have a safe place to live. However, by providing them with a roof over their head and likely food to eat, too, you have to examine why you’re doing it and what the repercussions could be. Do you want to give them a place to live so you can keep a better eye on them? Are you fearful that they will resort to criminal activities to get the money they need to fund a living space of their own? Or do you think that by keeping them in your home it won’t be possible for them to hide their addiction?
Surely you have good intentions by offering someone a place to live when they have no other resources, but you might not realize that you are enabling the addict and keeping them locked in their cycle of addiction if you give them free housing. It’s understandable that it’s difficult to discern what it helpful compared to harmful, especially if you want to “rescue” them from what is a difficult time in their lives and painful for you to witness. But think of this, too: Living with an addict is emotionally and financially draining and can even affect your health.
The Hard Truths of Living with an Addict
While it isn’t easy to cut off an addict or deny them a place to live when you have space, you have to face the plain facts that addicts are much more likely to feel comfortable living in denial that they have a problem if you are there to help them keep some semblance of normalcy. Although you may feel as though they have no way to live without your help, you have to step back and realize that the very “help” you’re offering is shielding them from the consequences of their using drugs and you inadvertently prevent them from seeking help for their problem.
You should also consider the fact having an addict living under your roof can be highly detrimental to your mental health. Without them living in your space, you can regain control over your own life and you won’t have to witness their destructive behaviors that could impact you directly, especially if they’re mooching off your finances or even stealing your belongings to procure more drugs. Watching your loved one deteriorate both physically and mentally is heartbreaking, but you’ll begin to resent them, too, if you have to hear their lies, worry about whether they will overdose, or fearing who they associate with and if they know the location of your residence.
When it Comes to Offering an Addict a Place to Stay, It’s Likely Best to Just Say “No”
As a loved one of an addict, it’s understandable and admirable that you want the best for them. What muddies the waters is the fact that letting them live in the same home may not actually be the best solution for them, and certainly not for you. You may want to tell them your boundaries and how you are willing to help that does not involve giving money or a place to stay and that you are willing to support them in getting clean and maintaining their sobriety.
To learn more about how you can help your loved one afflicted with substance use disorder, please contact Mount Sinai Wellness Center today at (800) 353-4673.