Monday, December 13, 2010

My boyfriend is a drug addict

Question:  I have a live-in boyfriend who has a problem. He drinks excessively and doesn't know when to stop, recently, I also think he's been doing drugs. I'm not sure where he is getting it from but there are days when he completely doesn't know what is going on, his behavior is completely different from when he is sober, like he is extremely happy for no reason, which will last for days. We've been together for about six years now and I know that before we got together he had a problem when methaphetamine. 

He hasn't worked in a few years and I've been the sole financial provider for the both of us. When he asks me for money, I give it to him and he'll leave for hours, I won't know where he is going or doing with the money and the past couple of months, I could barely pay rent. I've brought all of this up to him multiple times when he was sober and he always gets mad, tells me he has no problem and will end the conversation.

When I brought the situation up with my friends, they told me to just leave him. I know I can't do that because he is not working. He also needs me because he doesn't have any other family members or friends that are supportive of him, he's had a hard life and been through a lot before we even met. He's told me before that he doesn't ever want to go back to meth because we want to start a family and have a life together. I want to stick through this until the end but I have no idea how to help him. What should I do? (San Francisco, CA)

Social Shrink:  I'm sorry to hear about your boyfriend, it really does sound like you want to stick with him through this but you can't do this all on your own. He's been through this before so he may know what works for him and what doesn't when treating his addiction.

Try to find out what helped him get better in the past, it might have been an inpatient program, Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotic Anonymous, or just hanging out with a new, healthy crowd - relapse can be very common among addicts. It is how they deal with it after that shows they want to get better. I'm not saying it is okay for him to relapse all the time but if this is a one time thing, then I would try to inform him of what is out there and give him options. Try not to confront him about the issue but bring it up as a concern that you have an let him know you want to help him. He can try a facility like Walden House in your area, Ohlhoff Recovery Programs, or the Salvation Army. He can also try Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, even providing him with AA's crisis line number can help him out, 877-515-1255, where he can anonymously speak to someone about what is going on.

However, this may be difficult because of the way he reacts with you. You've already tried multiple times and he is still not listening, you need to think of what your limit is to helping him. Though you guys have been together for a while now, you need to do what is best for yourself. Many people that have loved ones who are addicted to drugs and alcohol may suffer from co-dependent behaviors, which is something you don't want to fall in the habit of. By giving him money and not knowing what he is doing with it, is one example of being co-dependent. He might know that he can always come to you to provide for him so he will forget about his responsibilities.

Try to break out of the role of providing too much for him, he can only get help when he is ready to help himself, all you can do is inform him of what there is and the rest is up to him. Having gone through a lot in life or having no one else to support him are excuses for his behavior. Sometimes getting him into an treatment program can give him back the life skills in getting a job, learning about healthy relationships with friends and family or therapy he may need. Living or supporting an addict will take a toll on you too and you don't want to enable his addictions, I suggest you check out what Al-Anon meetings are in your area.

All in all, it is hard to see someone you love go through this. You should set a limit for yourself, whether or not it's a timeframe or how many times you want to bring this up with him. Once he's surpassed that limit, then you need to reevaluate your relationship and where it is going. Let him know that you do love him and want to make it work, educate him on the many resources that are out there, but once it gets to be too much for you, then let him know that too. Good luck and please keep us updated on how you and your boyfriend are doing!

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