Knowing how to care for someone who is addicted or has a mental disorder can be very difficult. The relationship is fraught with opportunities for misunderstandings, dysfunction and disagreement. The biggest challenge in having a relationship with someone who is addicted, mentally unwell or both is remembering that you cannot force them to change. It does not matter that you can see the obvious right choice. You cannot force that choice on them until they see it for themselves. The patience and energy that this requires of you will be immense. Tragically, it is possible that your patience and energy will be spent in vein. Not every case of addiction and mental disorder is resolved. Some dysfunctional people ultimately stay on the path of destruction, and people in their lives are forced to take space from them to protect themselves. The best thing you can do is decide critically and honestly about how much of yourself you can give to the dysfunctional person in your life, and then give it to them with your whole heart.
Addicts and mentally unhealthy people require understanding for both sides of their nature; the side that knows taking steps to heal is the best choice and the side that just wants vindication for the way they are. This duality that lives within them is not only the difference between selflessness and selfishness, it is the difference between healthy and unhealthy, functional and diseased, free and trapped. Many dysfunctional people were subjected to unhealthy life circumstances, which is largely responsible for why they are the way they are today. This damage done to their mental health was an injustice to them, and was not within their control. However, the choice to recover belongs to everyone, no matter what kind of damage was done. Recovery may even have to be the focus of a person’s entire life due to the challenges they face. Those who support them along the way play a huge roll in their recovery. Whatever compassion you are able to give an addicted or mentally unhealthy person should certainly go to them.