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How to treat a partner with drug dependency? (Opiates/pain killers)
I know questions have been asked like this, but no story is alike.
I'm sorry if I offend anyone, or accidentally "group" people or make generalizations. Only going by my own experiences. Here's close to the whole story, the important parts anyway; I think it's important to know my situation before giving advice.
My fiance and I are young and in love. We have been together for over 2 years and are living together.
When we started dating I was unaware of his dependency. I started finding pills, vicodin specifically, a couple of months in. I had no idea how big his problem was. I thought it wasn't a big deal - he told me he took them for IBS. His problem started with his father (with severe gastrointestinal problems) handing him pills, saying they would help. As you can imagine, an addiction started and then became a dependency.
I start to put my foot down. Once it's not okay - he starts telling random lies. Even about things that don't matter. I find hidden pills. He "disappears" to take pills behind my back. He loses his job, his house, and is now pretty deep in debt, mostly with his parents. He was not buying pills with his money, but they were affecting his overall character and performance at work. They mad him make bad decisions in every aspect in his life. He continued to lose some more jobs as his parents enabled him. His parents took on ALL of his debt, let him live in their house for free, and paid for all his expenses.
Things got pretty bad in our relationship when my mom had back surgery. She got loaded up on Vicodin. Guess whose Vicodin started going missing? He was stealing her pills for weeks, not just a few either. He denied and denied but ultimately admitted when we had undeniable proof. He was no longer allowed in their house, and I couldn't even speak about him.
Fast forward to 8 months ago. He has an opportunity to move to where I've always wanted to live. He decides to take a nice job as I finish my semester in college. He promises to leave his past behind (past drug use, would be away from his dad handing him pills, and a friend who was a dealer). A couple of weeks after I arrive in the new location, two months after he moved, he gets very sick. He misses 3 days of work, risking getting fired. He tells me he forgot to take his anti-depressants (I understood, I've gotten off SSRI's and it sucks). A couple of weeks later, I'm going through his phone records as I knew something was up - he's calling every pharmacy within 15 miles. He calls his doctors office back home every day. I sat there and demanded an explanation as he told me I was paranoid and there's something wrong with me! He owned up shortly after, getting very emotional and admitted he was withdrawing from Ultram. His doctor cut him off because he was running out of his pills WAY too fast WAY too many times(his father and him also had vicodin prescriptions from the same doctor in the past. Doctors like him should be reprimanded for ignoring an obvious addiction). His doctor wouldn't give him vicodin, so he was fine with settling for ultram.
Present day: He's substituted Vicodin for Ultram, and now Ultram for Tylenol and sleeping pills. The sleeping pills have gotten better but he is always popping Tylenol. I'm worried about his liver. He says he takes 8 or less but I don't believe it. His dad does the same thing - takes Aleve and sleeping pills. They just need to take 'something' even if it doesn't do anything for them. (FYI: His dad still gets his Vicodin from the doctor and his mom catches him hiding it. He has never gotten treatment, though.)
I'm glad my fiance is not using (as far as I know) but he still has the tendencies he did as a user.
*Popping any kind of pill (i.e. Tylenol)
*Spending money frivolously when we don't HAVE the money
*Withdrawing from his family and myself (he can go DAYS without talking to the people he loves even when they call and get worried about him. He does not share anything with me, either)
*Lying about things that don't matter (For example, I ask him if he saw a certain episode of a show, he says no. Later tells me he did and he doesn't know why he said he didn't. What is that??)
*Blaming me for his problems
I know he doesn't WANT to use Vicodin. But he admits the desire is still there and he WOULD take them if they were in front of him.
I tried talking to him today about what I want done - and this is the last straw. He is currently reducing his anti-depressants so he was pretty (extra) belligerent about it. He agrees to go to counseling but then turns it around and says many of his problems stem from ME and my imperfections. Every time I bring up his dependency he starts making it about me.
The problem is also his parents. I spoke to his mom earlier and she was supportive and suggested counseling. Then HE talked to her, and she wrote me a very condescending email about how he's "hurting" because of an "unequal" partnership (I'm out of a job right now). She completely missed the whole issue of his spending, debt, and addiction and also made it about me. His parents continue to enable him. It's a slap in the face when he has wronged me, my family, and his, his parents agree, and then they go right back to coddling him. (My family has forgiven him but they do not enable him or make excuses by any means. They look out for me, not him)
I know it doesn't seem logical to be with someone like this but we've all been there. I am in love with the person he is when he's not using painkillers or struggling with his desire for them. I've gave him second and third chances. I love him but my future is on the line - my emotional well-being (I spend a lot of time hunting pills, looking at phone records, worrying, not trusting) and my finances.
He has been doing better - he has a good job, our own place, and a more outgoing personality.
My question for those experienced with this problem:
*Can drug abusers really be "cured" after treatment? Or will they always want to use?
*What is the best way to help him as someone who isn't using but with an active dependency? (Not sure if that's the right term)
*Tough love: Should I stay in the home and wait for things to get better with treatment, or should I move home (2000 miles away) until he is better? Which would be more beneficial? I want him to know I'm serious but I want to be supportive and do what's best for him.
I have hope as his problem HAS improved over time, and I love this man to death. It's sad when an intelligent, loving man can be taken over by this monster called Addiction. I want him back. I would love to marry him, but am fearful that this will not end or will escalate.
Thanks for reading my story.
sounds to me very much like he still is using. most of us need more than just getting clean, we have to work on ourselves, eg. NA or AA meetings. he has done nothing except tell you he has stopped using. i dont beleive it..
addiction cannot be cured, but we can abstain and get well. it will always be a tendency within us....
good luck. its is always complicated for the partner of an active user... first off HE HAS TO BE THE ONE TO WANT TO GET CLEAN. no amount of nagging from you is going to work. in fact it often caused people to dig their toes in... the work has to come from him. the desire to stop using has to come from him.
i suggest if he is serious about recovery, he get along to a few meetings.
There is no "cure" for addiction, nor is there ever a guarantee that a recovering person won't go back to pills. But there is recovery - lasting, long-term recovery - if the person gets actively involved in a recovery program. The behaviors that go along with addiction can continue after we stop the drugs. That's where NA or AA comes in. These 12-step programs help us to address the underlying issues that led us into addiction. They help us to grow emotionally and develop healthier coping skills. Basically, if we're going to stay clean, we have to change from within. The "old" us turned to drugs. The "new" us has to learn how to deal with life without them.
And there is also a 12-step recovery program for the loved ones of addicts/alcoholics, namely Naranon and Alanon. Regardless if he is using or not, these programs are invaluable for you to pursue. Your focus on what he is or is not doing is not healthy for either of you. The support and guidance you'll gain from Naranon or Alanon is beyond words. They can basically help you to hold onto your sanity!
Before anyone calls it quits or moves - I strongly urge both of you to get to meetings - one a day, if at all possible, especially to begin with. If he refuses to go, you still need to go to yours. Focus on your recovery, as you have been as affected by his drug addiction as he has.
You will know the truth - and only the truth can set you free.
I second everything Cheeky and Ruth said, I agree with Cheeky sounds like he is still using Dog
Thank you for the input so far. I know there's not a "cure", I just want him back, not wanting the vicodin.
What are your opinions on professional private counseling vs 12 step?
He has agreed to counseling, doesn't want to do 12 step. Is it necessary? Who has had both?
I do not exactly agree with 12 step practices, but am looking for counseling for myself (private).
Originally Posted by mbird67
I did both, early on. Together, I think it made a huge difference in my life. There are additional benefits to a 12 step program, most notably, the fellowship and support of other addicts in recovery. The program - the 12 steps themselves - are a common sense roadmap out of the nightmare of addiction. I'm curious why you'd have any disagreement with '12 step practices.'
Generally, my experience has shown me that when a person is so reluctant to attend meetings, they simply are not fully committed to recovery. Key to any kind of success in recovery is the "willingness" to go to any length to overcome addiction; when we start picking and choosing what we're willing to do, we're on thin ice. Like I said, this has been what I've seen over the years. This was not some scientific study!
I've been working in this field for a long time - and have sponsored people long before that. I have my own philosophy (that many others share), that I will not sponsor anyone if they are not attending meetings. I have to see that kind of willingness and devotion to recovery, otherwise, I'm doing half the work for them.
I suggest that you both select counselors with a specialty in addiction; not all counselors are the same.
You will know the truth - and only the truth can set you free.
Mbird, If he serious about getting clean I do not understand the reluctance of a 12 step group, they work pure and simple. It provides a safe place with people that do understand and can offer suggestions based on experience.
Originally Posted by mbird67
As Ruth I worked in this field for a long time, and am recovering myself, private counciling is good especially combined with 12 step recovery. However the therapist should be very experienced in addiction and dealing with addicts or he will be able to front on them and get them to believe anything he says. There aren't any new lies out there but with one who told the same lies years ago can't fool them. Still thionk 12 step groups for you both is one of the best options, combined with therapy this just increase the chances of success Dog
Thank you both once again. I really appreciate the advice.
I gave him somewhat of an ultimatum today (I hate to but it's the only way to hear the truth lately), basically told him that if he didn't come clean with me now about any lies and I find out later, I'm leaving him. He said that he went to urgent care after work about a month ago after work because he ran out of anti-depressants while tapering down. He then went on to ask for a vicodin prescription! They filled it for him. I have no idea what he said was wrong with him, but I will never stop being so frustrated with doctors for handing narcotics out so easily, especially a patient not appearing to be in pain (who knows, maybe he was acting) and one you don't have a patient-relationship with. He said he took one and said it made him feel sick and stupid for the first time, and it didn't feel like he fondly remembered. He claims to have flushed the rest down the toilet..he says he has no reason to lie now.
Well, I'm 100x more pissed off and feeling betrayed more than ever before. I don't think I've sobbed so hard in my life. It's scary to think someone you live with hides things like that. He didn't even tell me he went to urgent care to get his anti-depressants...just came home and acted like it was a normal day.
Now that things have come down to the wire, he says he will do WHATEVER it takes - 12 steps included. He says he's very close to recovery and just needs my help through this last leg. I don't feel like it can be close to over when he relapsed after 6 months of being clean...
He did call an addiction counselor today and the receptionist said the doctor USUALLY doesn't take patients who haven't gone through a rehab program (we don't have the time or money, and he doesn't not using often obviously). I'm keeping my fingers crossed to hear good things as there's only one other addiction counselor on his insurance. Other regular counselors though.
Seeing the nature of the subject, I expect that every one here is not judgmental. The problem we have with 12 steps is the sense of powerlessness and having to surrender to God. We are both open-minded atheists. It's not the fact that it's religious based, but the idea of no control...prayer....Just not something we believe in. But if everyone swears by NA, then it's definitely not out of the question. I do want whats best for the both of us. Hopefully that reasoning makes sense to you guys. I think he could really use the support of other people who understand what addiction is like, because I have never been through this. I'm going to look into NA and Nar-Anon.
Last edited by mbird67; 07-17-2012 at 12:53 AM.
Originally Posted by mbird67
The idea behind these 12 steps is not to convert someone into believing in God if they do not. The idea is... as addicts, we tend to be self-centered. That is evidenced by how we put drugs first, before anything else in our lives. Our words may say otherwise, but our actions show a preoccupation with drugs that provide pleasure to ourselves, alone. We also have the tendency to be (often fiercely) intent on "doing it ourselves" or "doing it my way." Neither of these attitudes are conducive to recovery. For one thing, we can't do it alone. We need the support and guidance of others. And as for the self-centeredness, we can't focus on our own immediate pleasure; recovery is about "short term pain for long term gain." Quick fixes (or easy ways out) are a part of our disease.
So, the founders of AA (the first 12 step group), tried to deal with the issue of reaching OUTSIDE of ourselves for help. They then decided to define God as broadly as they could when they added the words, "... God, as we understood him" - well, I'm very sure that can be defined however we choose. It's a phrase that was INTENDED to be inclusive, not exclusive.
There are many, many folks in NA/AA that do not believe in God - or believe in any number of other things. That does not keep them from recovery through the 12 steps. Many rely on the group itself to be "a power greater than myself" - as those in the group are succeeding to stay clean, and we, alone, can not. Some just refer to the 'energy' of the universe being a greater power than our own energy. The idea is not whether or not we believe in God - so much as whether or not we are open to HELP from outside of ourselves.
Surrender - or loss of control - is about the power of this disease. In recovery, we have to accept that we have lost control over our drug use. In our heads, we WANT to believe that we can handle it, and we do incredible mind games within ourselves to justify continuing to use, when there are so many signs that we're out of control. That's our denial - and denial is a key part of addiction. Admitting (step 1) that we are powerless over our disease is simply saying, "I finally admit that I can not control my drug use." Steps 2 and 3 are realizing that we need help from outside - and we're willing to surrender our control over this disease elsewhere. We can't control it - period. We can give it over to God - if that's what we believe in - or we can give it over to our NA group - and accept their wisdom of how to stay clean and sober. It need not be a religious type of "surrender."
Anyway, back to your hubby's relapse - hate to say this, but you probably heard only the tip of the iceburg. We do not relapse on one pill then throw the rest away. We tend to minimize our use; that's just a part of this disease. We admit the truth to the point that we have to; and we hold back the details that would cause more conflict. if you've been seeing a lot of questionable behavior, then you're seeing on-going drug use. One pill a month ago does NOT equal the signs you've seen. Your gut was telling you the truth.
Addicts USE urgent care to try to get narcotics, period. It's a common practice, I'm afraid. He's not out to betray you or hurt you - he is simply very sick in this disease of addiction. Sicker than he wants to admit - and sicker than he realizes. This disease is a devious monster to arrest; we simply can not do it on our own. He is NOT a bad person, just as I am not a bad person. He and I have a disease that compels us to do crazy ("bad") things. The only difference is, my disease is in arrest, and his is not.
Regardless, just be sure to get the counseling going ASAP. AND - while he is willing (which can quickly pass), have him follow through with meetings. Take the opportunity that he is WILLING and run with it, as us addicts can easily slide right back into our old patterns. When the 'heat' from our loved ones cools off, we get complacent.
You will know the truth - and only the truth can set you free.
Originally Posted by ARTIST658
You explained NA perfectly for those wanting to take it from a different perspective spiritually.
Thank you thank you for all the information. Hopefully we can both start going next week.
He DID get an appointment with an addiction counselor (yay!) for Tuesday.
So much needs to be discussed. Sadly, all of this had to go down while I'm a few hundred miles away and we've only been emailing. I go home tomorrow. So, I didn't get into tons of details about the urgent care because I was too busy having a mental breakdown. You're probably right - even if it didn't feel as good to him, why not try a second or third pill, etc to see if it gets better?
Last edited by mbird67; 07-17-2012 at 12:25 PM.
I'm going to have to agree with Ruth here. That's just not how relapses happen. Addicts are master manipulators when using. If they "come clean," it is usually just a very small part of the truth. For me, I would confess to a much smaller offense (like just taking 1 and throwing the rest out) because I knew that would get her off my back for a while. It was always lies when I was using though. To be blunt, his story reeked so bad of BS, that I could smell it from the West coast. Sorry you are going though this. But, if you start going to meetings, you can start learning more about addiction. You cannot save him - you can only save yourself, and hopefully he will come along with you... but that is entirely up to him.
There is ALWAYS hope
i must agree as well. when i seen you say ''' he says he took one and flushed the rest'''' hahaha sorry that is bs...
i also was scared of na or na meetings coz of the hand it over to god thing. well, someone said to me, it doesnt have to be god. just use ''group of drunks'' or ''group of drug addicts''' to replace god and wa la, you have something stronger than yourself.
works for me.
That's great that you are being realistic about his honesty. Lying, deceiving, and manipulating come with the territory of being in active addiction, unfortunately. For me, the NA program helped my honesty with others and my self honesty tremendously. I think you might be right about him saying what you want to hear. The proof will be in his actions: whether or not he really seeks help on a consistent basis, his honesty going forth, his behaviors going forth...etc. If he really is taking the treatment seriously and he really stops using, you will clearly see progress. If you don't see progress, I would be very skeptical. In the NA program, we have a saying: "it works if you work it." In other words, how much you get out of it is equal to how much you put into in. Each addict is resonsible for their own recovery and the effort involved. Like someone else said, he needs to be willing to go to any lengths to get and stay clean.
There is ALWAYS hope
I can't even imagine how hard it is to be the partner of an addict, because in my relationship I'm the addict. And every lie I told was never to hurt my partner, it was to protect my addiction. Unfortunately lies will always hurt the people we love, but that is part of this hideous illness. He is responsible for his recovery, but you are responsible for taking care of yourself and not allowing yourself to become lost in his illness. Staying with him doesn't make you a door mat, but decide where the boundaries are and be clear and firm in what happens when or if those boundaries are over taken. Good luck to both of you!
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