Monday, February 28, 2011

Boundaries: In Desperate Need of a How To Guide

This is Ken's second time getting clean, but it's the first time he's gotten professional help. The first time getting clean he moved to a new city and didn't have any contacts. He had been clean for about two years before he relapsed.

We have been together for a year and a half. I agree that love won't magically overcome all. I also agree that there need to be boundaries. I just don't know how to set them. I'll have to be able to justify them to myself and him if I'm going to follow through with the boundary setting and consequences.

I would like to hear what you have to say about the following: Do I need to commit to being 100% sober if I am asking that of him? I drink socially maybe once a month or less. Our friends don't know the situation. Should we just say we're not interested in drinking or how do you approach that?

He says that his smoking marijuana is just his way of enjoying himself, just like when we drink (before relapse) socialize and dance occasionally on the weekend. He likes smoking better than drinking, it doesn't give him a hangover, and it's better for him, he says. He hasn't started smoking again, but he says he will smoke some in the future.

His biggest argument is that alcohol is just as much a drug as weed, so why the double standard. It's a valid point. I guess I just feel more comfortable with the once-in-a-while drink with other people. I don't like the idea of getting high alone or getting high alone and then going to hang out with other people. It seems messed up. I think it is also easier to gauge your level of intoxication with alcohol. The story with pot is always, "I'm not that high, I'm just gonna finish the bowl or whatever he's smoking out of." Next thing you know he is out of his mind high.

This is new territory and I'm bound to make mistakes. When so many relapse, it doesn't seem logical to stay with the person if you swear to leave them when they do relapse. That's like staying with someone you know you plan to leave, which I don't understand.



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Curse of Complacency

Now that he's all done with his program, it is tempting to think things are back to normal. I don't want to fall into this trap. Everyone says the second you start to think you're in the clear, your spiral towards relapse begins. I am hoping Ken isn't too cocky and will take his continual recovery seriously. By that I mean I hope he keeps going to meetings, follows through with finding a sponsor, and so on.

I ordered a bunch of information from I have it, but I haven't taken the time to sit down and read through it all. I really need to. I think I have avoided it a little and I'm not sure that I have a good explanation as to why.

The day I went with Ken to his outpatient program the topic in one of the groups was recovery vs. relapse. The leader talked about recovery as a change in behavior, mindset and lifestyle. If you don't change those things and all you do is take away the substance, you are not recovering you are merely abstaining and that will not create the foundation for lasting recovery.

He explained recovery in terms of an escalator moving down. As long as you are making an effort, showing up to meetings, doing things you know are good for you, you will be able to maintain your position or even achieve a higher level. If you stop taking steps, the escalator will take you down closer and closer to relapse. Abstinence won't solve the problem. We have to be proactive and take the necessary action to work on what caused the substance abuse in the first place.

I'm going to have to keep reminding myself to take that advice.


Thursday, February 17, 2011


Ken has finished his outpatient recovery program. He is planning to stay sober for a few months. We disagree on his drinking and marijuana use in the future.

He thinks it is OK for him to use "every once in a while." When he says this he is speaking not of oxycontin, but of alcohol and marijuana. I'm more worried about the pot than the drinking. Neither of us are big drinkers, so I don't foresee that developing into a problem. He seems obsessed with getting high. He used to use pot to self medicate, but says he won't do that again. This time he will just use it for recreation. I am terrified that it is going to start out as every once in a while and get more and more frequent. I have lived that movie and have no desire to take part in the sequel.

He doesn't want to talk about how often "occasionally" is. I think I could live with once every few months, but once or twice a week is a lot. It started out, "I won't buy it, I'll just use it sometimes when it's around" and now it's "Well, I'll have to buy it, it's not like it's just going to fall from the sky every time I want it." I am so scared that this is a slippery slope. I already feel us sliding down.

To some extent, I feel like, if it is just for recreation and you know it upsets me, then why is it worth it? If your love of pot is greater than your love for me, and you say it's not an addiction you're mistaken. It is a problem when you start picking a substance over anything. It is scary to me that he doesn't recognize it as a problem.

I am anxious to see what the future holds for us. I pray it's not filled with fights about pot.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I had something to do this evening, but I decided to skip it. I told him I wasn't going to my meeting and that I'd be able to do something if he wanted. He texted me, "Ok cool ill call you when im done running errands." This was at 4:15. Sounds to me like he wants to hang out. I was looking forward to it. I got redressed, shaved my legs, brushed the snow off my car in the freezing cold and was picking out a Redbox movie for us to watch.

I haven't heard from him by 7:40 and I send him a text asking what the plan is. No response. I call him at 8 and he says he's at a restaurant with his mother. He then tells me all about their day, shopping, what he got, etc. He doesn't say a peep about hanging out tonight. When I bring it up he says "Oh, well, we just sat down, so it'll be at least an hour or so." I feel like it was inconsiderate of him to forget we were supposed to hang out. I was waiting for him to call, because he said he would. I arranged my afternoon and evening, to see him. It hurts my feelings that he just "forgets" that we were supposed to hang out. Maybe that's petty, but I'm annoyed.

He finally called at about 9:30 to say that his stomach was killing him. REALLY? So, I'm not going to see him tonight after all that. And now he's texting me pictures of all the things he got today... uhg.



Can I hang out with my friends? Can I go to the bars with them without looking like a hypocrite? I don't think it's good for him to drink, smoke pot or do anything that might set him on the path to relapse. The problem is he doesn't think he has a problem with alcohol or pot. It's kind of crappy that I can go out and have fun and he can't, but at the same time our circumstances are different. I am a little afraid if I go drinking without him he might decide to do it at home, because he can.

Is he going to be jealous of my getting to drink? Should I be concerned about this? On some level, my life must go on. I don't drink much or often, but do I have to swear off it forever? It's confusing.


Lonely Road

My friends don't know my boyfriend, we'll call him "Ken," is an addict and going through rehab. It's not the kind of thing you can tell just anyone. Friends, bless them, tend to talk to each other and before you know it everyone is up in your biz.
Abusing narcotics is dangerous and socially even more unacceptable than alcoholism. Ken's struggle is very personal and he doesn't want everyone to think of him as a screw-up. I get that, but sometimes it is hard for me to deal with everything on my own. From time to time I need to talk things out to settle my thoughts and reaffirm that I am sane.

My mother knows of Ken's problems. However, it is not appropriate for my mother to know the details of my relationship. They say mothers have trouble forgetting the bad things people do to their children and that's usually what they end up hearing about most. If this is going to work, I don't want to have to defend my decisions or Ken to my mother. I can't and don't want to talk to her about the small disputes Ken and I have over whether or not he should smoke pot after he's done with rehab. I can't explain to her all the aspects of withdrawal and their affects on me. If she knows too much, she feels like she needs to ask questions and worry. Her questions just upset me and her worry does me no good.

I'm thinking I need to spend more time talking to a friend or two that don't live here. I need to talk to someone and if they blab a little to people that don't know us it's not the end of the world. I frequently find myself wondering if in the end it will have all been worth it. It's painful, but if I run from every relationship challenge, I'll end up with no one to share my life with.

The friends, family and especially significant other of an addict are isolated from their support systems when they need them the most.


Friday, February 4, 2011

When Addiction Gets Real

"I WAS addicted to oxycontin, but I detoxed and have been clean for about a year." There is no such thing as a past-tense addict. Addiction is a lifelong battle against a disease.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around addiction being a disease, but I want to understand. His addiction is not personal, about the relationship or even a choice. It may have been a choice the first few times they used, but there is a brain connection missing that was either not there to begin with or destroyed by the substance being abused. This connection or lack thereof, divides the addictive personalities from the non-addictive personalities.

A year and a quarter into our relationship, my boyfriend relapsed. Prior to this, the addiction had not shown itself. I had no concept of the severity, pain and struggle of recovery, but I was about to find out.

At first, I wondered why he would make choices that he knew would hurt him, emotionally and physically. It didn't make sense. Why couldn't he just fight through the withdrawal and get it over with? How many times would I have to watch him suffer through withdrawal if he kept using drugs as a crutch? This pain was his fault. He did this to himself, so shouldn't he have the strength to undo it?

He realized the severity of his struggle after attempting to detox on his own and failing. He finally talked with his parents and they began looking for treatment. Treatment is not always readily available and can cost a pretty penny. Treatment decisions should be made carefully and according to the needs of the addict and this may take a little time. After about a month, he started an outpatient program that met three times a week for four hours.

He is finishing up his outpatient treatment and will soon be moving on to the next step. I am anxious to find out how committed he is to attending NA meetings and staying clean and sober. Right now, he doesn't seem to think alcohol and pot are a problem and that he can go back to these for special occasions. I fear he's going to have to learn that the hard way that complete sobriety is the answer.

Only time will tell. Until next time.

- addictsgf