How to Handle Addicts Who Only Care About Themselves

Have you ever experienced the frustration of trying to help someone who refuses to themselves?

How many times have you been burned trying to love someone who is selfish?

The reality is that this is a real problem. And it hurts.

This person could be a friend. It could be someone we are in a relationship with. Maybe it’s a family member.

We don’t want to stop helping them, but at the same time, we see no improvement and keep getting attacked for trying to be a friend.

Can you relate to this? Have you been asking what to do in this sort of situation?

If so, we’ve got some suggestions about how to handle an addict who only cares about themselves.

In fact, there are 3 things you can do to address this right away.

Let’s go through each one and see what insights we can glean.

1. Establish Boundaries

Agreeing to help someone does not mean you become their doormat for them to walk on as they please. This is especially the case if the addict you are trying to help is living under your roof. Regardless of who the person is – be it a friend, a child, or another relative – you are in charge in your own house.

Giving someone a place to live while they struggle through recovery does not mean you give them a right to live as they please inside your home.

Put boundaries in place.

If you don’t feel comfortable with your front door opening and closing at 2am, then institute a curfew.

If you believe that house chores should be shared among everyone who lives in a house together, then delegate specific chores to everyone – including the addict you are trying to help.

People will treat you – good or bad – exactly the way you allow them to.

Establish your boundaries and stick to them.

2. Require Progress

When you love someone, you are willing to do a lot to help them. And it’s tempting to make excuses for them or to accept the excuses they make for themselves.

It is important to have grace. You cannot expect perfection. That will only frustrate a recovering addict. Understand that they will mess up.

But don’t accept that as the only outcome.

Expect them to change.

People will live either up or down to the expectations the people closest to them have for them.

You cannot require perfection, but you can require progress.

It is not acceptable for someone to live as they please, never grow, and still continue to get everything they need and want from you.

Set the standard and demand progress.

They don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to make consistent progress in their steps toward recovery. 

3. Hold the Person Responsible

One common tactic addicts who only care about themselves use is the guilt trip.

They will make you feel like setting boundaries and requiring progress prevent them from changing.

They may throw tantrums and tell you that they can’t make progress because of you and all your stipulations.

Understand this. You did not make them addicts, and you cannot make them recover.

Recovery is a choice that every addict has to make for themselves.

And just as nobody can make that decision for them, nobody can take that decision from them.

In other words, them not being able to get sober is not your fault.

It is their responsibility to get clean.

If you’re not careful, you will let them make you believe that their recovery is dependent on you not holding them accountable. They will try to make you feel that your expectations are stressing them out so much that they have no other choice but to use again.

Don’t buy into that tactic – it is just a way to manipulate you into giving them what they want.

The key for them to succeed is for them to take ownership of their lives and their recovery.

By accepting the blame yourself, you actually hurt their progress. The reason is that, when you accept the blame, they don’t have to.

The best way you can truly help an addict who only cares about themselves is to put the responsibility on the person it belongs – the addict, not you.

It is good to help the people we love overcome the obstacles that hold them back from being all they can be in life.

When we do, however, we can easily fall into the trap of being controlled by the very person we are trying to help.

To prevent this, we must always set and maintain healthy boundaries.

Progress must be required.

And we have to put the responsibility where it belongs – on the person who needs to recover.

Understand this, you did not create this mess. And you do not have to allow it to create a mess in your life.

Help the person you love.

But do it with both grace and strength.

Justin FranichComment