Lamar Odom, the estranged soon-to-be-ex-husband of Khloé Kardashian, is in the midst of a very public and very painful relapse into addiction. In the past, he's struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol, famously ending up in the hospital in a coma. But now, despite a brief stint of sobriety, it appears he's fallen off the wagon again. (More Khloé: "I Love My Shape Because I've Earned Every Curve")
And while this must certainly be difficult for him, it's also incredibly painful for Khloé, as anyone who has ever loved an addict will understand. The reality TV star broke her silence on Twitter, sharing her broken heart and feelings of helplessness. She made it clear that she's finally reached the point where she has to let go and stop trying to save him.
It's a terrible realization but an important one for any person who has a loved one with substance abuse issues, says John Templeton, president of Footprints Beachside Recovery Center. "Addiction is a family disease, and even though other family members may not be addicts themselves, they are directly affected by the disease," he says. "The emotional, mental, and sometimes physical toll that living with, or caring for someone who is actively addicted is overwhelming."
This is why it is so important for loved ones to take care of themselves too. Templeton recommends getting therapy for yourself, finding a support group for families of addicts like Al-Anon, and getting educated about addiction.
"Don't have the expectations that you will be able to 'cure them' or 'fix them' yourself," Templeton says. "Many people's ideas of helping are often times enabling the drug using behavior." Be supportive, but don't lend money, pay bills, or do anything else that will allow them to keep using. "The best thing you can do is help them get help."
Sadly, Lamar's tragic situation isn't unusual. "Often times, relapse is part of recovery, and it doesn't mean that the person will never get clean," Templeton says. "It's important to not give up."