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My Fiance (now ex-fiance) Relapsed from his Drug Addiction. I Left Him and Now Struggle With Major Guilt

by Leah Carz
(Pittsburg, PA)

Hello, I was engaged to a my ex fiance for about six months. When we first started dating he told me he had an addiction problem but had been clean for almost a whole year.

We moved in together in January and were doing well. However, the last month has been a nightmare. He relapsed and started drinking heavily and using all types of drugs except for heroin (so he claims). The first time that it happened, I tried to be supportive and understanding and hoped that he would get back into meetings, get a sponsor, in all do something so it wouldnt happen again.

However, he didnt do that and instead continued to disappear for long periods of times and coming home high. The last time he came home intoxicated he got extremely agitated with me. He was verbally abusive, and even threatened to kill me. That night I feared for my life and I had never been treated in such a way by anyone in my entire life.

That's when I decided that I needed to leave. I packed up and left our place for good. He took money from me including stealing cash back from my credit cards, lied to me and was totally mentally and emotionally abusive and became a monster in a matter of weeks. His drug use turned my life upside down in no time.

So I left him and although I know I made the right decision, I feel guilty because I know that his addiction has a lot to do with his traumatic childhood. He was severely neglected, went through several foster homes, and was sexually abused in a residential place.

Ironically I am a social worker in the field of child protective services so I know what this can be like first hand. I feel so guilty because I was not able to stick by him through this. I know I had to leave because he was just getting way too violent and I pretty sure things would have escalated to the point where he could have hit me or actually kill me.

Please advice as to what I can do to get rid of this guilt. Also advice on how I can tell him that I don't want to get back in a relationship with him (or anybody for that matter). I don't want to hurt his feelings but I have no desire to be intimate or trusting or romantically involved with anyone after this experience.

I was scared to tell him while he was getting high because of the violent outbursts, but I know I need to be honest because he put me through way too much and I just don't want to put myself in that predicament again. Thanks for your advice.


Hi Leah

Guilt is natural in situations like yours where someone you love has been affected by an addiction. We also feel we should have done more or should have done something differently.

But in reality we have to learn to make peace with the fact that we can't help someone who isn't prepared to help themselves. Sure your boyfriend has been through a traumatic childhood - but that doesn't excuse his behavior towards you or self-destructive addictive tendencies.

We all have our demons in varying shapes and sizes - and we have to learn how to take responsibility for dealing with them. He knows what he needs to do, has all the 'tools' for overcoming his addiction - so the decision to do so now lies with him.

Understand these 3 principles when dealing with addiction in someone you care about: You didn't CAUSE it, You can't CONTROL it, and neither can You CURE it. Overcoming an addiction and dealing with the inner demons that play a part in it - requires willingess and the desire to want to change, which is something that ultimately has to come from within.

The way you deal with the guilt is by accepting there is nothing you can do for your ex and that it's up to him to take responsibility for his life. There might also be underlying reasons you were attracted to a relationship like this in the first place - so you need to examine whether you have a tendency to be drawn into codependent relationships. Support groups like CoDA ( can help you with this and teach you to form healthy relationships, most importantly with yourself.

You don't need to explain yourself to your ex. He's the one that has been abusing and making threats to you. So avoid getting drawn into the need to try and explain yourself to him because he's likely to try and manipulate the situation to either make you feel even more guilty, or to his gain somehow. He messed up. Badly! So the relationship is over - no further explanations necessary.

I know it's not easy, but it will become more so in time. You have to now focus on you and move on. You can do this! Good Luck and Take Care.

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Sep 01, 2010
Leaving ex-fiance after relapse
by: Leah Carz

Thanks for your quick reply. I really appreciate it. It was actually a sense of relief to hear I did the right thing despite my guilt. My ex-fiance went into detox yesterday and hopefull he will continue to go on to a rehab program. However, my feelings remain the same and there is no way Im going back into a relationship with him at all. I just hope that this time he takes his recovery seriously. I started attending Al-Anon meetings to overcome how this has affected me. I will also definitely look into addressing my co-dependcy tendencies, as this whole experience has led me to realize that I do tend to get involved in co-dependent relationships, with this being the worse experience of all. Thanks again for your reply.

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