A loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction affects everyone in the family system. It is all the more difficult when that loved one is your spouse or partner. The love that brought you together seems distant as you deal with a person you barely recognize. At this point, you might be considering leaving an addict.

However, leaving relationships can be challenging. Even in unhealthy relationships, each partner gets used to patterns and ways of maintaining their life together. Ending that relationship will be stressful, but knowing how to leave a drug addict is often better for both spouses in the long run.

What are the Signs of Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction can happen at any stage of life. Some older adults become addicted to opioids when dealing with daily pain or recovering from medical procedures. Other people may have been using drugs at some level since their teenage years.

When you first met your partner, you may not have been aware of their drug use. Addicts can be secretive about this part of their lives. When you spent more time together or shared living space, you may have noticed patterns of drug and alcohol abuse.

Secretive Behavior

Addicts often convince themselves that they can manage their addictions. At the same time, they feel shame about their lack of control. They may attempt to hide their substance abuse by keeping a secret stash and sneaking out of the house to use or purchase drugs.

Lack of Dependability

People under the influence frequently lose track of time. If they are in a blackout stage, they may disappear for hours. This behavior becomes disruptive when the addict misses appointments or important family events.


The shame around addiction leads to dishonesty. Addicts will make up excuses or tell blatant lies to stay out of trouble. Because many drugs affect memory, these excuses may seem strange or nonsensical.

Sudden Irritability

leaving a drug addict

Substance abuse affects the ability to control emotions. Addicts under the influence may seem inappropriately happy or childish. The same person coming down from a high will get irritable as withdrawal symptoms start to kick in.

Financial Issues

For some couples, financial struggles are one of the first signs of an addiction. As addiction gets a deeper hold, the addict needs more frequent doses to feel normal. A spouse may notice unexpected withdrawals from bank accounts or missed bill payments.

Why Do People Stay in Unhealthy Relationships?

People outside of an unhealthy relationship may not understand why someone would stay with an addicted partner. They think that, if they were in the same situation, they would have walked away at the first sign of trouble. However, there are many reasons that someone would stay in a relationship that is not the best for them.


Spouses sometimes learn to live with addiction as if it were a third partner in the relationship. There are periods of relative stability when the addiction is somewhat under control. If the addicted person brings the primary income into the household, ending the partnership may mean a loss of financial security. The spouse will argue that it is better to deal with the life to which they have become accustomed than to step into the unknown.


Children of any age will complicate the ending of a relationship. A spouse may feel overwhelmed by the thought of raising children alone. There can also be guilt around pulling children away from a parent.


Psychological trauma earlier in life can leave people with a need to be needed. Sometimes, a spouse finds self-definition in caring for an addicted partner. In the worst cases, they may even enable the drug habit so that they can come to the rescue later. Recovering from this kind of relationship will require therapy for both parties.

Things to Consider Before Leaving An Addict

Whatever the reason you have stayed in a relationship thus far, there comes a moment when it is time to step away. Ending a marriage or partnership is a difficult decision, and several factors might influence when and how you go about leaving an addict.

Do you and your children feel safe?

The safety of you and your children must be your primary concern. Addiction changes people, and the person you once loved seems far away. You should not tolerate violence or threats of violence to any family member. If this becomes an issue, it is time to make a sudden break.

If you’re concerned about the possibility of violence, you can do some research about your options ahead of time. Many towns have local agencies that will provide temporary shelter in abusive relationships. It can also be helpful to share your struggle with a trusted friend who can help you make a faster move.

Is your partner getting help?

The length of rehab and recovery depends on the severity and type of addiction. If your partner has entered an inpatient or outpatient program, you may want to give the process some time. Often, recovery centers hold family therapy sessions so that spouses and children are part of the recovery team.

Do you have the support you need?

If you are not experiencing violent or threatening behavior, you may want to take time to investigate your options for moving forward with your life. Consider how you will handle the basics like shelter and financial support. Planning will make your transition smoother.

How Do You Make the Decision to Leave an Addict?

Outside of violence, there are several points where people in an addictive relationship decide to break away. You have a right to be happy and fulfilled. When the partnership reaches a point where this ideal is no longer possible, you will want to know how to leave a drug addict.

Refusing to Acknowledge the Problem

Addicts do not enjoy being addicted. They may find short-term pleasure in using, but the feeling does not last. However, they may also not want to admit that they feel out of control. Addicted people frequently state that they do not have a problem. Often, they will try to turn the situation around and accuse their partner of being the one with the real issue. Many spouses leave when they become exhausted by someone denying an obvious problem.

Refusing to Seek Help

Some addicts may recognize that they have a problem, but they are unwilling to do anything about it. They may feel that it is too disruptive to seek treatment, or they may be afraid of the withdrawal process. When it becomes clear that nothing is going to change, you need to walk away.

Feeling Used

Addiction can eclipse you as the main partner in a relationship. After being lied to and ignored, you might feel like all you are doing is supporting the illness. Your partner may only recognize the extent of the problem when you exit the picture.

How to Leave a Drug Addict

how to leave a drug addict

Leaving an addict is not easy. Once you make this decision, keep moving forward. You will need to go through your own recovery process as you take your life back from the addicted partner.

Find Support

Everyone has different support needs. Talking through the frustrations of being in an addicted relationship can be a big help in your process. Finding support groups of other people in relationships with addicts will let you see that you are not alone. After you break away, it is also a good time to establish new friendships that keep you away from your ex-partner’s orbit.

Grow in Self-Awareness

You will experience a mix of emotions ranging from guilt to relief. These feelings are a normal part of grieving the loss of the relationship. Some people seek professional counseling to work through what they’re feeling. Talk therapy may help you understand more about yourself and why you stayed in the relationship. If you have children with your addicted partner, a therapist can also help you develop skills for dealing with the addict without getting pulled back into unhelpful habits.

Engage in Self-Care

After stepping away from an unhealthy relationship, it is a good time to take care of yourself. If your partner goes to rehab, they will learn skills for making better choices. You will also benefit from developing habits like exercise, mindfulness and a healthy diet.

You will soon discover the amount of time and energy that you spent supporting an addicted partner. Outside the relationship, you can take up new hobbies or learn the necessary skills to improve your career.

Find Support at Rock Recovery Center

If you’re wondering how to leave a drug addict, our counselors can be an important resource. In the West Palm Beach area, Rock Recovery Center provides comprehensive drug and alcohol rehab programs. Our family therapy sessions can help addicts see how they have affected their loved ones. They will also help families understand the nature of drug and alcohol addiction. Our experienced staff is ready to work with you and your loved one so that you can work toward a better life. Contact us today for more information.