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.



1 comment:

  1. Here is the take from a recovering alcoholic (5 years this month).

    No, you don't need to commit to be 100% sober yourself. His addiction is his and his alone, as is his recovery - he needs to take ownership of it and it can't be dependent on what you (or anyone) does or doesn't use if he wants his sobriety to last. Many friends/loved ones will not drink or drug in front of us out of love and a desire to not make it more difficult for us, esp. when we are in early sobriety. But it isn't your problem and you aren't hurting his recovery unless you are intentionally encouraging him to relapse by abusing substances in front of him, which it doesn't sound like you are doing.

    To the issue of alcohol versus pot, yes, he's right, but only in the respect that they are the same from the viewpoint of the addict/alcoholic and he shouldn't be using either one if he is serious about his recovery. For the addict/alcoholic, they are all about the same thing - an altered state of consciousness, escape from self and our perceived problems - a way to feel "other than". So they will all lead eventually back to whatever his addictive, mind altering substance of choice is. This is the lie he is telling himself - that he should be able to reward his good behavior of not doing oxycontin with another mind altering substance - pot. As an addict, he probably cannot even see the contradictions in that type of thinking. As our Big Book of AA states in describing the alcoholic's view of his disease "he could not distinguish the true from the false". Your BF needs to get himself into a good 12 step program, like Narcotics Anonymous, that will help him to see that sobriety (i.e., total abstinence from all mind altering substances) is actually its own reward as well as the path to a much happier life. You might wish to consider attending some Al-anon meetings, which are for narcotic users' as well as alcoholics' families & loved ones.
    David M.