Tough Love: A Valentine’s Day Message for Those Who Love Someone with a Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Looking for love in all the wrong places
Love at first sight
Love is blind
Love means never having to say you’re sorry

These are just a few of the themes that come to mind as I contemplate Valentine’s Day.  It occurs to me that I could tell my life story (both before and after recovery) using just the right combination of famous love quotes and song lyrics!

I was looking for love in all the wrong places when I first tried drugs.  I just didn’t know it at the time.  Growing up in an alcoholic home was traumatic.  I was frightened most of the time and very lonely.  Drugs filled the emptiness inside and made my fear go away.

It was love at first sight for me when it came to drugs.  Before long, nothing else mattered.  My family, friends, school and job – all took a back seat to my desire to get high.  This is the nature of the disease of addiction.

Love is blind, especially when it comes to loving someone with a drug problem.  We see only what we want to see because the reality is much too painful.

If love means never having to say you’re sorry, then what does it mean when our addicted loved ones keep apologizing?  Does their inability to stop using mean they don’t love us?  Of course not!  It’s just that addicts love drugs more than anything else.

Love is complicated enough without adding addiction to the equation.  If you’re struggling with a loved one who has a drug or alcohol problem, you’ve probably been told that you need to practice “tough love.”   What does that mean?  For me, it means letting go and trusting the process.  I hope you can trust me when I tell you that “tough love” is the best gift you can give to an addict.

This Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to begin learning this new way to love.  But please don’t forget that love isn’t just reserved for Valentine’s Day.  You can practice it every day.

I know there are many of you who have learned to practice “tough love” with your addict and I would like to hear from you.  How did you start?  How do you stay strong?  How has it helped you and/or your loved one?  Sharing your experience here can help others — and might even save a life.

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    Mary Cuneo

    March 1, 2014 at 1:46 AM

    I am the youngest of six kids my sisters are 10 plus years older than me they staryed having kids when I was 12. So my nephews and nieces were my play things. I loved them they were fun. We grew up being very close they all l tell me things before they tell their parents. My oldest nephew is a heroin addict and we finally got him to a rehab. He was sounding so good. Thought he was going to make it this time.his mom went on vacation because he sounded awesome. Four days later I get a call from him he left rehab. Aunt mary buy me a bus ticket home. He is crying like he did when he was little he just wants to go home. Home what home the streets??? He is homeless back home. I tel him to go back to rehab and I hang up. He calls again and again and I ignore his call. He must have called 50 times in a half hour. I text him and tell him to go back and that if he doesnt he is going to end up dead like his wife last year on an overdose. I beg him to go bavk to get his 5 yr old son back. He refuses. So I then tell him I love him but I am n poo t helping him to kill himself. To make a choice drugs or his family he chose drugs. So I left ho m on the street in a strange city and state. And told him im done dont call again you made ur choice. The whole time im crying this was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Insitbhere now wondering if he ia ok. Ia he cold hungry. Did undo the right thing. Do I drive by and see if he ia still there. Gawd I hope he does notified.

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