I consider myself an intelligent person, but there are times when I am a slow learner. I make a lot of mistakes when I am learning, but when I finally learn the lesson my blonde hair gets browner.

The toughest life lesson for me was understanding addiction, addicts and how it all has nothing to do with me – a non-addict. I think people who live with addicts lack this understanding more times than not, and for many years I was not the exception, and it made the journey more painful.

I remember the hurt and pain with every relapse. I remember wondering how could they keep doing this to ME over and over again. I remember Sugarland releasing the song Keep You, and I thought someone had written my story into a song that was easy to understand. I remember feeling broken without making the mistakes. Now, many years later, I understand addicts a bit differently, and what it all means for me and you.

If you have a loved one impacting your life with drug, alcohol, gambling or other debilitating addictions… you need to understand it has NOTHING to do with you. They won’t stop because of you, the won’t keep doing it because of you, and they can’t get better for you. That is a painful thing to accept but it is the truth. YOU should be a reason to get better, but THEY have to get better for them to be successful. Sometimes they have to lose everything before truly wanting to get better. Other times you are there for the success. You have limited control, but you do have some control.

The only thing you can control is YOU. You have to fill your life with positives for YOU. You need to leave and get away from their misery to stay sane. Even if you only go for a walk – you have to take your breaks. Finally, don’t be an enabler. When you hear about stories of addicts they have one thing in common – ENABLERS. I have been one in the past and that was a tough fact to accept.

A drug addict, alcoholic or other addicts can only run a course  of their addiction for so long on their own. There is always someone giving them money so “they can eat” or a roof over their head even though they steal from those providing it. Instead let them starve and be homeless for a while. The illness grows as long as people enable its life. Now, I am not saying you should just walk away from someone with problems, but be smart that you are not enabling their addiction to be stronger than it would be otherwise. Tough love is the only love needed sometimes.

It hurts when you feel like a substance is always chosen over you. You have to accept the relapse or action has nothing to do with you even if it should. Its a painful lesson but learning it will save your sanity and protect your heart. An addict in the throws of addiction cannot protect you, so you have to do it instead.