Is not an easy process. Oh wow is it difficult.
I've been on both sides of the spectrum. I've been the addict left, and the one who has had to leave an addict.
The biggest thing you can do is to recognize when it is time to leave. When the addict is interfering with your daily and personal life and manipulating and exploiting you. An addict will do whatever they can to keep you around, to let you enable them. I know, because I've done it. I'm not proud of it.
I have also been prone to drawing addicts into my life, as relationships, as friends. I have had people rely on me for their sobriety and that gets hard.
The only way I have found to do it is - tough love. Cut them off.
I know. I know they'll get the validation and enabling from somewhere else, but it doesn't have to end with you.
And you'll hear it, the lines they'll drop to get you to stay out of guilt.
"I need you."
My response - I need myself.
My response - I'll suffer the consequences.
"I can't make it without you."
My response - I can't make it with you.
It is so much easier said than done. An addict needs somebody by their side to hold them and to tell them that it's okay that they relapsed, that they have someone looking out for them. It is so hard for an addict to truly be alone and accountable for the consequences of their actions and addiction. No addict can truly get better with somebody by their side validating their failures and telling them that it will be okay. It's a nasty vortex to get sucked into, one that will leave you feeling unfulfilled and miserable. I think that women can relate to this, I know I can. I know I have nurturing tendencies and that I want to make the world better, person by person. I know I have a lot of love to give.
I know also that for the sake of my mental health and my own recovery, I need to turn around and give that love to myself first and foremost. It is important to me and my own addiction that I focus on myself first and foremost. And if I wasn't an addict myself? I think it's still important to put yourself first and remember that you can't save everybody. Not everybody has the coping skills to deal with an addict - I sure don't.
You need to value yourself. You need to put yourself first. You deserve so much better than being walked all over. You deserve to be happy, whether you receive that from yourself, another, or both. Ideally, always yourself.
Addiction truly touches us all and it's painful and it's sad.
For more resources on how to cope with an addict in your life
Addiction Recovery Guide (USA)
Did you know also that AA/NA meetings are not strictly for addicts? You can also work through AA/NA to cope with a partner/friend/family member's addiction, as well as create a mental support group for yourself in coping with another's addiction. Always be sure to check whether or not the group is closed, open, or gender-specific.
Addiction causes suffering, but you don't have to suffer for the actions of another. It's so much easier said than done, but once the pain outweighs the effort, you may find it easier to simply walk away. It is so difficult, but not as difficult as the pain that an addict can cause.
You deserve better.