Should I break up with my gf while I work on resolving my addiction?
July 23, 2014 2:29 PM   Subscribe

I started dating my girlfriend six months ago. Since that time, I have gradually taken more of my stimulant medication than prescribed. I have told her on multiple occasions about the overuse of my stimulant medication and that recently it had gotten worse. Earlier tonight she told me that she is starting to distance herself from me and that she needs some extra space to protect herself [from being around someone with addictive behavior]. Her brother had a drug problem and she understands how emotionally draining it can be to have an addict in her life. What is the mature thing to do in this situation? Do I wait for her to potentially break up with me? Do I ask her for a break while I work on things? Do I just want to ask for a break to save myself from the pain of her breaking up with me first? I love her and I want her to be a part of my life but I don't want her to be consumed by my addiction while I get help. Please help.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It doesn't sound like you've actually sought help for this addiction. Just do that. She might or might not break up with you, but if you don't seek help, she DEFINITELY will.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:37 PM on July 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

She can take care of herself. In fact, it's her responsibility to take care of herself. Just as it's your responsibility to take care of yourself. So, are you ready to do that now? Are you interested in getting sober? It'll probably improve your life, but only you can decide if now, or ever, is the time. Perhaps you might drop into an AA or NA meeting just to check it out.

Meanwhile, if you want to break up with her, then break up with her. Since she's already distancing herself from you, perhaps she's breaking up with you? The situation might be painful and/or messy. One way to improve it: start getting sober. See where things lead you then.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:45 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

How about you deal with the number one relationship you have in your life right now, your relationship with stimulants. If you need to, go to detox/rehab, and then into a 12-step program or other group support program. If she's the right person, she'll support you and give you the space and distance that you need to deal with your addiction.

Don't break up, just tell her, "I agree, my addiction is out of hand and I don't have control over it. I'm doing X, Y and Z and I'm going to work on it. Let's keep in touch for now because I love and care for you, and when I'm in recovery, we can reconnect and see where we are."

Good luck to you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:46 PM on July 23, 2014 [8 favorites]

The first thing for you to do is to get help for YOU. If you want to stay in the relationship, you will need help. If you want to break up, or if you don't care either way, you will still need help. That's the mature thing to do: take immediate steps to resolve this, with the help of a professional.

Dithering about the relationship is just distracting from the actual problem. You are not well, and your first priority is to get well.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:47 PM on July 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

She sounds like someone who can not only take care of herself but can communicate boundaries well. She's given you a heads up that your problems are not going to become her problems and cut you partially loose. Why don't you work on becoming someone she might want to be back in a full relationship with and let her do what she's going to do.
posted by fshgrl at 2:49 PM on July 23, 2014 [10 favorites]

I would say, perhaps in an email, what you've said here: that you understand her legitimate concerns, especially given her brother's situation; that you understand and respect her need to protect herself; that you are seeking help; and that you need to know what will be the best way to proceed, for her, because you love her and don't want your shit to consume her.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:51 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm going to go ahead and say, yes, I think you should break up with her.
It's only been six months and you deserve to be able to fully concentrate on yourself. You have no idea how long recovery will take and she doesn't deserve to "hang-on" waiting for you to sort yourself out.

Maybe if the relationship was longer, I might have different advice, but at 6 months - I'd say the mature thing would be to let her go, don't wait for her to break up with you.
posted by JenThePro at 2:58 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm going to answer your question via a makeshift flow chart:

1. Do you want break up with her?
->Yes: then break up with her
->No: Go to question 2

2. Are you going to get help for your substance use/abuse issues?
->Yes: Don't break up with her; get help; let her break up with you if that's what she decides.
->No: Break up with her. If you're not willing to take care of yourself, then you're in no position to be in a relationship with another person.*

I think you're making this more complicated than it needs to be. You are both adults, and you both get a say in whether this relationship continues. This is kind of a shot in the dark, but I wonder if you're maybe be focusing on the break up issue because that's less daunting than the substance use issue.

The thing is, your substance abuse needs to be your priority. If being in this relationship keeps you from dealing with that issue, then you shouldn't be in this relationship. With that being said, if she wants to be with you and you want to be with her, and you're getting help, then stay together. There's no rule that dictates you should break up just because you're going through a tough time.

Ultimately, addiction is an illness. Would you break up if you got cancer? Would you break up with her if she got cancer? Again, this is only true if you're actually treating your illness. Identifying there's a problem is the first step, but it's only the beginning.

*But really, you should get help. You see it's a problem, so do something about it. Therapist/detox/AA/NA/etc. Just do something.
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:05 PM on July 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

It's probably best for the both of you to go ahead and break up with each other. A relationship where one of the two is actively addicted to drugs or alcohol is not a healthy situation. You need to be able to be as singly focused as you can be in order to get sober and stay sober.

Further, nothing influences people to choose to go back to using or drinking in early sobriety like relationships. Especially new relationships. Trust me, I know from experience. And I've seen it happen a lot of people I know too.

Like it has already been mentioned, freedom from the addiction has to be your first priority if in fact you want to beat it. It's best not to have any more emotionally challenging components in your life than you have to when you're considering taking on this kind of endeavor. Good luck to you.
posted by strelitzia at 3:40 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I started dating my girlfriend six months ago. Since that time, I have gradually taken more of my stimulant medication than prescribed.

See, the manner in which those two sentences start your question has me kind of wondering if being with this girl is part of why you are abusing. Or even primarily why you are abusing.

The way it is phrased, it doesn't sound like you were abusing until after you got with her. And I kind of don't believe in wild coincidences. I also don't believe in the framing of addiction as being about "Some substance just has wild control over you for just no real reason other than some substances are addictive (oh, and you have a defective personality)." There is too much evidence that people drink and drug to self medicate for medical or mental health issues or to cope with being in nightmarish situations. (A lot of American soldiers took drugs while in Vietnam. Many of them went cold turkey when they left and never used again.)

People do things for a reason. There may be other things going on in your life, but the only one you chose to list in this Ask was "gee, I got with this girl and THEN I started abusing." And I doubt that is just some crazy oversight. I suspect it is more "Freudian slip" territory.

So my vote is to break up.
posted by Michele in California at 3:44 PM on July 23, 2014

No, you should not break up with her. Don't further punish her because of your addiction.
posted by Violet Hour at 4:01 PM on July 23, 2014

What is the mature thing to do in this situation? Do I wait for her to potentially break up with me?

You're asking people to read into your question a lot, so with that in mind. The series of questions I pulled above is really troubling. You're overmedicating. You're slipping out of touch with reality and barely hanging on to relationships. You're not taking care of yourself. You're expecting others to do that for you. This is going to get a hell of a lot worse for you if you don't ask for help.

You're not alone. Please get help. You'll be able to do so much more with your life clean and sober. You know you have a problem. This "nice guy" routine is a bunch of bullshit. You can't rig life to be an addict and not hurt people. And why are you hurting yourself. Get your priorities straight and the universe will unfold for you in spectacular ways. There is a real solution.
posted by phaedon at 4:26 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Presumably you are under the care of a medical professional who prescribed this medication. Your first step should be to make an appointment with this person and raise this issue. Seek their advice.
posted by sid at 5:48 PM on July 23, 2014

I'm going to jump on board and reiterate that getting some help for yourself is priority number one. From your question, it sounds like she has a pretty realistic view of the situation. Because of this, I view your options as:

1.) Get some help for yourself, whatever that may entail. If you need to detox and do inpatient, do that. If you need to start going to meetings, do that. If you want to work with your doctor who prescribed and a counselor, do that. Figure out what you need to do to get clean and go with it. If you have close relationships with family and long-time friends then ask for help from them. If this is the choice you make, then don't break up with her. Explain your plans and let her decide if she's on board or not. Be prepared for one or both of you to want out even after you get clean...sobriety changes a lot. It will be a good thing for you, but not necessarily for your relationship (though continuing to use will definitely be bad for both, see #2).


2.) Don't get help and keep using. Maybe you should break up with her in this case, but my guess is she'll beat you to it.

This is coming from experience and what I can gather from your question. When I got help I was about two years into a relationship. My SO was very, very supportive throughout the whole ordeal, but once I was sober I was unable to be the person she wanted and needed (couldn't go to bars, etc...). It took us both a while to realize this and ultimately contributed to her sucked, but I've been clean over three years and have never in my life been as comfortable and content with who I am...

So basically...ask for help, find what is going to work for you, and let whatever is going to happen between you two happen, but don't think that breaking up with her now is somehow the honorable thing to do. Just don't be surprised if she isn't willing to stick around. It's cliche, but now more than ever you need to work on you, not anyone else. You.
posted by kardia at 6:40 PM on July 23, 2014

Really your question is not about your girlfriend, it's about your addiction, as in why am I allowing a pill to destroy my life gradually starting with my relationships. Either that's true, or it's false or somewhere in between. If it's true, then you really need to start facing that music as after all your girlfriend is one form of reaction you are receiving in your life to what you are doing.
What you haven't said is why you are taking a stimulant, why you need it, and how you plan to create something better in your life to take its place. There's a crash at the end of the stimulant trail of some form. Best to get that figured out now as your girlfriend is just one warning light on the dashboard.
posted by diode at 10:00 PM on July 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

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