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Substance Abuse - Alcohol and Prescribed Drugs: How Can I Support My Boyfriend Deal With Them?

by Marie

I have a boyfriend that is addicted to prescribed drugs and alcohol. First of all, let me say that I grew up with this problem all around me. It was horrible for everyone involved. I learned that you cannot be an enabler or they will never change.

Anyway, this went on for 20 years. There was nothing we could do to change it. Finally, this person decided to change. It took a lot of willpower but never again was that a problem. Bottom line, you have to want it for yourself. No one can make you change. It has to come from within......

That being said, I swore that I would never be involved with anyone like that. I just could not take it anymore. Well, be careful what you say because I now have a boyfriend just like that. I do not enable him. Problem is that I really should not have let myself get involved because I did recognize the signs. For some reason, I chose to ignore them. Now I am a bit uncertain what to do.

My brain tells me to walk away and I know that is what I should do. I feel bad. This man is 59 years old and to be honest, I am afraid what may happen to him if I should leave him. We do not live together. In the beginning, I would get upset when I did not hear from him but now I have learned to as he gets messed up and sleeps for very long periods of time.

I am scared for him and his well being. I do love him from the bottom of my heart. I know that I cannot marry him or live with him and that is what he wants but what do I do? He was fired from his job because of the market and he has just become withdrawn. I am concerned about his well being. Do I turn my back on him? I have told him that he needs professional help and that I would be there for him to help him through.

He was honest enough to say that he did not know if he was strong enough to give it all up. Always tells me how very much he loves me and that no one has ever been as good to him as I have been. I do believe that. His daughter is grown and she is so mean to him. I want to support him not bring him down. Any advice would be so helpful at this time. I know that I need to leave him but I do I turn my back on him in his time of need?????


Hi Marie

You understand the life of addiction better than most having lived through it for so long, but when you say you aren't enabling him are you sure?
Is saying you are scared for his well-being and want to be there for him not possibly a sign of codependency when you know there is nothing you can do for someone who doesn't want it for themselves?

Look, I know it's not easy and is a very fine line, but as long as you continue to 'allow' someone you know suffers from addiction to use while you're in a relationship with them, you're actually enabling them because they know they've always got you to fall back on when they need you.

Many people confuse love with neediness. I'm not saying that's the case with your relationship - but my point is by sticking around despite knowing he continues to use, you are actually 'supporting' his addiction and thus inadvertently enabling it.

I think you should insist that if he want to continue a relationship with you, he has to go through a proper addiction treatment program and then join a 12 step program like AA or NA that will help him build a new life for himself based on the foundation of sobriety.

That way you also give your relationship a real chance because can you really have a successful relationship with someone living a life of addiction? ... and you're showing real love because you know the best possible thing for him in respect of his health and overall well-being is leaving a life of substance abuse behind him.

But it all comes back to whether he wants it enough for himself. By insisting on him getting help if he wants to save your relationship, hopefully that will provide him with sufficient motivation to get started, and will show you if he loves you as much as he says he does. Then the rest is up to him.

I wish you well, but remember we are ultimately powerless over the decisions and choices others make, as much as we want to help them.

Best Wishes and Good Luck

Comments for Substance Abuse - Alcohol and Prescribed Drugs: How Can I Support My Boyfriend Deal With Them?

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May 13, 2012
I could have written this letter
by: Tami

I, too, come from a background of addiction and am the only one in my family who chose a sober lifestyle.

I, too, am very much in love with a wonderful man who is addicted to prescription meds and is in an obvious struggle with depression. Both in our 50's, we didn't wait long to move in together after meeting. Normally a very "grounded" person, he brought a new dimension to my life. Now, 4 years later - I am devastated. I am angry at myself for initially missing the "signs" (after all - I grew up with an addict AND had been in relationships with addicts in the past), then denying the "signs" which ultimately led me to become totally enmeshed in the chaos of his addiction. I did all the usual begging, pleading, crying, etc.....and then I asked him to leave our home - but still promising to be there for him. He has been gone for almost 3 months and has completely spiraled out of control. He is homeless, no job and lost custody of his 11 year-old son. He has been hospitalized twice since leaving and is now angry with me for "ruining his life".

I am intelligent and recognize the insanity of all of this, and yet, tonight I sit here asking myself "How can I just walk away from someone who is in such a state of suffering?"

It is such a paradox and I hope that you find the strength to do what is right for YOU.

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. :)

Apr 26, 2012
Boyfriend drug abuse
by: Anonymous

Hi , I have lived with a former drug abuser for over five years. He was a totally different person when I first met him. And was very honest about his past, but I made it totally clear from the outset, that if ever he was going to go back to his old ways he would tell me and I could make an informed choice wether I wanted to help him through it or end the relationship .
However over the years he has continued to abuse on and off behind my back, he would always deny and make out it was me being paranoid . Etc
I have finally decided you can't help some one who won't get help let alone admit he's even got a problem with both prescribed and street bought drugs......
It's one of the most difficult things I've had to do because I also love this man from the bottom of my heart but I can't save him like I've being trying to do all these years.
I need to be happy ,as over the last few months it's become more and the more it's happened the more miserable and lonely it has made me. No one can tell or make anyone see what u see ,no matter how much u want it something's and people are leopards.
Im left Heart broken deeply disappointed and severely miserable........and travelled an emotional marathon with this man and all I really needed was honesty and when drugs are involved people change completely and things I never dreamed he'd do he's done ,and this has only come out from other people and never him. Just really confirming what I already knew in my own gut . I wish you good luck whatever you decide , x

Jul 02, 2011
by: Anonymous

I hope everything is going alright with you..
Love Hanna. xxx

Feb 25, 2010
Help Him Get Help
by: C-P

Supporting someone in active addiction is a misnomer, i.e. it can't be done because the only way you're supporting them is by letting them continue to use.

So real support is doing everything in your power to facilitate that person getting clean/sober. That involves establishing the clear boundary that you won't tolerate their drinking/using in your relationship, but that you're willing to be there for them if they agree to turn their life around by getting the necessary help.

The best thing for your boyfriend is for him to overcome his substance abuse problem. But allowing him to feel sorry for himself and give you a million different reasons why he has this problem and continues to use gets him no closer to a solution. I know it sounds like a hard or tough approach, but in reality that's the only approach that works. And I think you know that.

Addicts are brilliant manipulators who will easily get you to 'fear' and feel guilty for them because they know it will allow them to continue using. See it for what it is and take a stand.

Good luck to you.

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