You don't have to use drugs to be affected by them every day. If you love someone who has an unhealthy relationship with any substance or substances, you probably struggle with a variety of complicated emotions and desires. Unlike the spouses and relatives of drug users, you may be still getting to know your girlfriend or boyfriend, and that makes it more difficult to understand their choices or figure out how to react appropriately. You're also in the early stages of your romance, so you may be more likely to overlook your partner's poor choices or mistake conflict for passion. So, how do you handle the situation without making it worse or ending your relationship?
At Freedom Model Retreats, we believe in self-directed solutions for substance users, so we won't make decisions for you either. However, we know how substance use affects relationships (and vice versa), especially in a society that views it as a character flaw and treats it like a medical condition. Whether you desperately want to get help for your loved one or you can't decide whether to stay, it's important to do the following three things every single day.
All relationships require some compromise, but that should never include emotional or physical suffering. If your partner blames you for his or her substance use, your reactions may range from believing them wholeheartedly to dismissing it in an attempt to deflect. You are not at fault and you can't control your partner's choices. You also don’t deserve to be blamed for them choosing to use. If that is happening, it may be time to free yourself from their influence.
Some physical risks are unacceptable too. If they get high and drive recklessly, invite other users into a space you share, or abuse you under the influence, it's time to get out for your own safety. You can provide support and help from a distance if you choose but don't risk your health and well-being to do so.
Contrary to the tenets of 12 Step addiction programs, drugs don't control a person's identity or actions. Drug use is a chosen behavior, not an inevitable outcome of their desire to use. It is rarely a good time to try to discuss making changes with your loved one when they are under the influence or impaired. Wait until they're no longer under the influence to have a conversation about their behaviors.
Open your dialogue with understanding and tolerance, not blame or anger. Instead of surprising them with an ambush style intervention or making threatening ultimatums, simply make an effort to share your perspective and listen to theirs. Be clear about your feelings, concerns, and leave the door open for change. If you need to leave, let them know why as lovingly as possible and explain you will help with support if you are willing to do so. Reacting with blame and shame aren’t helpful and don’t make an impact on the user other than to have them give up and continue to use.
There's no guaranteed method that will permanently change your partner's habits; only they can do that, because only they are responsible for their drug use or lack thereof. However, there are plenty of productive ways to focus your own energies. Share useful details about the options you research, and then leave the information in their hands. Let them know you're available to talk and listen. If they're willing to try to get help, discuss what steps to take and help them plan how to be successful. Looking into detox programs and a Cognitive Behavioral Education program for after detox is a good start for a successful outcome. If you have questions or concerns, you or your loved one can always call our Guest Service Consultants for compassionate answers.
If you have a valid reason to believe they'll overdose or harm themselves or someone else, it's okay to intervene and get help. Just remember: their drug use isn't your problem to fix, it's theirs.