Addictions come in many forms, and many levels of severity. While most commonly thought of as an issue with drugs or alcohol where the addiction may be as much physiological as psychological, other addictions can appear more behavioural, as in the case of video games or sex, even though we do now recognize other brain structure involvement in these addiction processes too.
Common to all addictions is a craving, or an inability to stop indulging in the substance or behaviour or activity to the point where the addiction interferes with other aspects of a person’s life. From this perspective, an addiction can be any regular indulgence that takes away from, undermines or otherwise interferes with work, home life, relationships and/or one’s personal health and well-being. The degree to which the addiction interferes may be troubling and/or unhealthy to oneself and/or others to greater or lesser degrees of severity.
When a person’s addiction interferes to the point where it creates failings in work, school, relationships, self-care or other important areas of daily living, the person should definitely seek help. Ideally, the individual would seek help before the addiction reaches these high levels of severity. But, addictions create conditions that change the way people think and act, and they often avoid getting help. Like an itch that must be scratched, the addiction takes hold, and seeking true relief can be difficult. This is when intervention by others may be necessary to break the hold the addiction has on the individual. Even then, many people resist or continue to succumb to the addiction.
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It’s always is a personal decision as to how long someone can live with a partner who has an addiction. However, if the illness is affecting your life, consider seeking help and support for yourself. Oftentimes, although attention is focused on the person with the addiction, those also affected by that person may benefit not only for themselves, but also find strategies to better support their partner. Here are two excellent resources to try if you are in need of support:
If the addiction starts to take a drastic toll on your well-being and you decide that it’s time to leave, plans should be considered for the safety and well-being for both yourself as well as the addicted person. This is not to say you can keep the addicted person safe, but that due consideration is provided knowing that in the end, their well-being rests with them.