My Boy friend is an addict to drugs and I can’t take it any more! Just found out after we’ve been together for 6 months now.
Its been six months with Dave (not his real name), and I did not realise he was an addict though a few signs started showing up shortly after we’d met but I didn’t see them given how much I loved him. Now, I’m not so sure. Every day, it gets worse. He can use drugs and come back in the morning (out of shape) and tells me he slept at his friend’s but I think some times he Blacks out through the night and doesn’t want to admit it. We can’t afford treatment, I’ve seen some clinics and they are too expensive for me. Dave lost his job about 3 months ago because he missed work, for several days so he was fired. Weirdly, I still love him, at least in a way that I feel responsible to help him but he doesn’t want help as he barely admits to be suffering from addiction as a disease. Barely stands a discussion about his condition. I’m confused, please help. Thank you.
Thanks for reaching out for guidance regarding your situation. Most people would rather sit on their challenges even when they are sinking their lives.
Addiction is a disease that can have a devastating impact on those closest to the addict/alcoholic. That’s why the best drug rehab programs involve family members in their loved one’s treatment. Through educational workshops, family therapy sessions and family visits, partners learn new skills right alongside their loved one and practice those skills before their spouse returns home. Drug rehab programs often recommend resources in the local community as well, including therapy and Al-Anon meetings.
When you’re living with a spouse who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you’ve likely grown accustomed to dysfunction. At various points, you may have alternated between being the spouse who tries to fix all of the addict’s messes to the disengaged spouse who just wants some peace.
Without intending to – and perhaps without even realizing it – you may have assumed some unhealthy roles, such as enabler or codependent spouse. Through counseling, you can identify unhealthy patterns and learn more positive ways to get your needs met.
Giving Support: Being There for your boy-friend in Recovery
Early recovery is sometimes the most challenging time for a married couple because of all the significant life changes happening in the first year of sobriety. During that time, addicts and alcoholics need to be somewhat “selfish,” focusing on themselves in order to maintain sobriety and rebuild their lives and their self-esteem. This can leave spouses feeling neglected and resentful.
What a recovering spouse needs more than anything is the support of their partner. A study by researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that men recovering from addiction are more likely to relapse if they feel that their partner is critical of them.
You can be there for your boy-friend– and help preserve your relationship– by taking the following steps:
- Educate yourself. Learn about the process of recovery and the risk factors for relapse, and work with your spouse on their relapse prevention plan. Try to understand your spouse’s journey into sobriety and the obstacles and personal torment they’ve faced.
- Open the lines of communication. Talk to your spouse about the kind of support they need, taking care not to sacrifice your own emotional, physical or mental health. Share your hopes and expectations so that you can work toward the same goals. In counseling, you’ll be able to practice new communication skills and work together to identify and manage feelings.
- Know that your relationship is going to change. Your spouse’s progress may be slow, or it may be surprisingly quick. They may meet new friends, excel at work and perhaps even outshine you. Allow your spouse some freedom to explore who they are without drugs or alcohol, knowing that a shift in responsibilities and power dynamics can bring greater happiness to your home.
- Know that you and/or your spouse may consider leaving the relationship. In the process of getting reacquainted, you may feel that you never knew or loved your spouse, or that you no longer have anything in common. The emotional ups and downs of recovery may place a great deal of stress on the relationship, and it can be difficult to repair the damage, particularly if legal or financial problems continue to impact the family. Counseling can help you reconnect and remember why you came together in the first place.
- Be patient. Even without drugs or alcohol, your spouse may not become the person you’ve always hoped they’d be – at least not quickly. It will take time for them to fulfill family responsibilities, and it may take time for you to be ready to put those responsibilities back in their hands.
- Work on forgiveness. Partners often have a lot of pain and anger built up after years of dealing with an addicted spouse. Those feelings are unquestionably valid, but holding on to them may prevent you from healing and moving forward.
- Avoid blame. Remember that addiction is a disease – not a moral failing or lack of willpower – and your spouse likely feels a great deal of shame and guilt for their past behaviors. This is why he seemingly – as you put it – can’t stand a confrontation.
- Praise your spouse’s progress. Encourage them to go to 12-Step meetings and meet with their sponsor any time, even if it’s inconvenient.
- Prepare for setbacks. Even after completing drug rehab, your spouse may struggle on the path of addiction recovery. Hurdles can range from lying, manipulating and selfishness to full-blown relapse.
- Don’t take relapse personally. Your spouse’s recovery involves you, but it is really about them. If your spouse falls back into old patterns, continue to lend your support and get them back into drug rehab.
- Spend time getting to know each other again. You may not recognize the individual you’re living with, but chances are you’ll grow to like this person far more than the person they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
For most relationships with a spouse in addiction recovery, life doesn’t magically fall into place without a lot of hard work by both partners. Recovery can deepen the bonds of marriage, but only if you take care of yourself and each other. Although recovery may be your number-one priority right now, there’s an important place for you in the process.
I hope this can shed some light into your quest to help him recover and possibly get back to you. Good Luck!
Thank you Fred for your Insights. I’d like to address the fact that Jenny’s boy friend isn’t open to help. This makes things a bit trickier. Reading through your issues, Jenny, you say “…he doesn’t want help as he barely admits to be suffering from addiction as a disease. Barely stands a discussion about his condition. ” Have you tried to involve someone he respects, like a family member, or professional counselor? Most importantly, are you assuming he is on drugs or do you know it for a fact? Sometimes life is not black and white, and someone may be facing several other issues whose signs may look as if they are addicted. To better help you, kindly elaborate. Thanks!
Hi everyone, thank you for your input. Pauline, this is a public forum so for purposes of discretion, I left out a few details but I know for a fact he uses drugs and he is severely addicted. Thanks so much for your time and insights,
Thanks Jenny! I am so sorry for what you are going through, I sincerely hope things get better soon. With hard-work and continued positive attitude, Recovery will be possible 🙂
Now, being in a relationship does not mean that you are tied to a sinking ship, and you do not have to wait for your partner to hit rock bottom to get help. It is important to stop enabling them and allowing them to continue along the path they are on. It is easy to offer excuses and deny that a problem with drugs exists, but this merely serves to feed into and validate the addiction. Instead, you as his partner need to take a stand and refuse to allow these self-destructive behaviors.
You should attempt to talk to your spouse, when you both are calm and sober, about his drug use. If he is still unwilling to discuss this, continues to make excuses for his erratic behaviors, and refuses to admit to drug problems, it may be time for an intervention.
The goal of an intervention is to get the loved one to agree to enter into a treatment program and start getting the help they need.
How you can set-up an Intervention, Jenny
An intervention is a planned meeting between the person battling addiction and their circle of loved ones. Spouses, family members, coworkers, teammates, neighbors, members of the clergy, and anyone personally impacted by the person’s drug abuse may be included in an intervention. Typically, interventions are organized without the knowledge of the person struggling with addiction. Members of the intervention team may meet one or more times to plan the actual intervention meeting.
The meeting should take place when the person feels the most at ease, not when they are “high” or coming down from a high. Members of the intervention team will often write letters that will be read at the intervention. These letters should focus on the drug use and how it has affected them. Specific instances should be cited, such as times when the addicted spouse didn’t make it to their child’s play or school event.
Team members, including the spouse of the addicted individual, should be assertive (not aggressive), respectful, and objective in nature. The intervention team should also give their loved one specific consequences that will be enacted if they refuse to enter into treatment after the meeting. For example, “You will no longer be able to see your kids if you don’t get help,” “I will not give you any more money to support your drug habit,” or “You may no longer continue living here with me if you do not seek professional help.” Spouses and other family members should research treatment options before the intervention and lay them out as choices during the meeting. Ideally, at the end of the meeting, the person battling addiction will agree to enter directly into a treatment program.
Oftentimes, it is the spouse of an addicted individual who takes the initiative to set up an intervention, but it can greatly help the process if they enlist the help of a professional. A professional interventionist can offer support, encouragement, education, and guidance, and takes the reigns when it comes to the actual planning and staging of the intervention. The Association of Intervention Specialists (AIS) certifies professional interventionists to help families with this process.
If your spouse is prone to violent outbursts and aggression, suffers from a co-occurring mental health disorder, or does more than one drug, it is highly recommended that a professional interventionist be present. Drugs can make a person highly unstable, unpredictable, and even potentially dangerous. As a professional with expertise in managing the heightened emotions that are often present during interventions, an interventionist can help to keep everyone safe during the meeting. This professional can create an overall plan, choose the intervention team, keep the actual intervention on track and positive, and even transport the addicted individual into a specialized treatment program that is right for them.
This should be your first step, and highest priority, because until your boy friend accepts what’s happening to him, no support strategy will work. Once this successfully happens, you can then consider employing Fred’s advice above. Feel free to come back here and let us know how its going and or whether it has worked-out for you. I honestly hope things get better for your and your loved one.
Hello Jenny. What is going on with your boyfriend is very tragic but there are solutions. It looks like your boyfriend needs treatment quickly or he is going to overdose and die. It is just a matter of time. What he really needs first is 30, 60 or 90 days In-patient treatment to detox him and make him clean. Then, when he gets out of In-patient treatment, he needs long term treatment at an Outpatient “Maintenance” clinic like a “Metahdone Clinic” where will be monitored daily. Then he has a chance to survive. Your boyfriend will probably need treatment on and off for life because there is no cure to any addiction. You can check drug and alcohol treatments near you at TreatmentHub365.com. Give them a call. They will make it work for you and Dave. It is what I would do if Dave was my son.
About the cost of treatment, usually when patients don’t have any money, the family and relatives get together and put the money for treatment. Also Medicaid provides addiction treatment 100% free of charge (if you qualify as very poor).
Hope it helps and good luck !
Thank you Olivier. I’ve added the tips to my to-do list. Want to arrange an intervention as advised, once Dave accepts and understands the severity of what he is doing, and any consequences, we’ll seek treatment immediately. I hope it goes well. Thanks for the help on this website. I appreciate.