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Loved ones of addicts and alcoholics

answered 01:40 PM EST, Mon October 21, 2013
My fiancé is currently in treatment for herion and meth and he recently told me that he can't be with me right now because he has to fix himself and he needs to be selfish. He also is in treatment 2 and 1/2 hours away from where we live and he is planning on living there when he gets out. I feel like I'm being abandon and i am not sure how to process this all because it was a big shock to me. What can I do to better understand what he is going through?

Dyan Kolb Says...



Hi there. First, I'd like to say that this all must be incredibly hard to deal with. I can only imagine that you have been struggling and have felt torn for a long time. I hear that he is your fiancé, but I'd like you to think about who it was that you were engaged to: the man you met and fell in love with or the addiction? Many addicts, especially heroin and meth users become consumed by the drug to the point where the "person" is lost so to speak. Family and loved ones are often left desperate and waiting to see signs of the old person they once knew and loved to return. Sometimes, loved ones experience glimpses of the person they knew and loved, but mainly the drug addiction takes the other person over. I think that it is important for you to seek support from Al-anon (http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/). Its an organization that is part of the 12 Step community that provides education and support to loved ones of addicts and alcoholics. You may even want to consult with a therapist (www.psychologytoday.com) near you for your own processing and exploration of these life events.

I want to acknowledge the effort and positive fact that your fiancé is in treatment and that he seems to understand the importance and seriousness of both his condition and treatment. Heroin addiction requires medical detoxification support while it exits the system depending upon the length of using the drug. Meth does not require the same support and tends to leave the body more rapidly. Both however are very addictive.

I respect your fiancé’s decision to focus on treatment and recovery. Perhaps in doing so, he can work towards exploring the issues in his life that led him to pursue drugs as a coping skill., learn and replace problematic coping with skills that will help in the long term. In recovery it is often known as a selfish program and for good reason too. Addicts and alcoholics need less distraction to relearn about themselves and learn new and healthier ways to cope with life. Ultimately, learning to live life on life's terms, not the drug's.  

I hope that you can support your fiancé through respecting his needs to focus on himself (in a very adaptive way this time). Drug addiction is very much a life or death matter. I also hope that you can get the support you need for yourself as I can understand the many ways in which you feel abandoned both emotionally and physically.


Dyan Kolb, LCSW

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Page last updated Oct 21, 2013

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