Is your heart breaking?

Addicts will break your heart, steal your money, con you into rescuing them and wreak havoc with your lifestyle. They can be sneaky, crafty and controlling one minute and affectionate, witty and devoted the next. A person in a relationship with an addict often feels helpless, guilty and ashamed. They wonder if they are being disloyal, or crazy even, to think that someone they love is an addict. It is common to doubt, question and deny the things that are happening right before your eyes, and even more common to cower before the wrath of a questioned addict.

Johns Hopkins University Hospital has developed a 20-question test to help you determine if you are in a relationship with an addict. Be as honest as you can in answering these questions.

  1. Do you lose sleep because of someone's drinking, drugging, gambling, etc.? Often lying awake at night worrying about where they are or how to pay the bills?
  2. Do you think a lot about the problems that exist because of that person'€™s behavior? Are you being physically or verbally abused?
  3. Do you get them to promise you they won'€™t do it again, and you believe they mean it only to have them do it again and again?
  4. Do you make threats? And then have them blame you for their behavior so you back down thinking maybe they are right?
  5. Do you have increasing bad feelings toward the person? Do you feel love/hate and have a desire to hurt them the way they have hurt you?
  6. Do you do things to try to stop them from drinking, drugging, gambling, etc.? Pouring out liquor, cutting off their money supply, intercepting calls from friends?
  7. Do you think that everything would be ok if he/she would just stop doing it?
  8. Do you feel alone, rejected, fearful, angry, guilty, exhausted?
  9. Are you feeling an increasing dislike of yourself?
  10. Do you find your moods changing as a direct result of his/her behavior? Do you often feel like there is something wrong with you?
  11. Do you try to deny or conceal the problems from friends and associates?
  12. Do you cover for and protect the person, even lie for them?  Bailing them out of trouble, loaning them money, buying them things?
  13. Do you find yourself feeling responsible for his/her behavior, blaming yourself when it happens again?
  14. Are you beginning to withdraw from extended family and friends? Hiding from people who know and care about you?
  15. Have you taken on his/her responsibilities, picking up the slack, as they get further into their addictive behavior?
  16. Are there arguments because of money spent?
  17. Do you find yourself trying to justify your reaction to the addict and rationalize your anger and shame, or get revenge?
  18. Do you have any new physical symptoms like headaches, indigestion, nausea, shaking, and sleeplessness?
  19. Do you often feel defeated and hopeless?
  20. Is your work (school work) suffering because of the addiction problems?

Three or more "yes"€ answers means there is definitely a problem and it is not you. However you need help to deal with it because it is much bigger and more powerful than you. Seek Al-anon, Codependents Anonymous, Gam-anon, or counseling. This could be a life or death situation. Your life. Your death.


Evelyn Leite MHR, LPC, is the author of Saving Face Through Surrender and Grace, a guide for Codependents. She has also authored a number of other books and articles on dealing with addiction, abuse, grief and codependency.