Addiction is one of the greatest evils I’ve seen on the face of this earth.
If you are facing a situation in which your partner is struggling with an addiction, my heart goes out to you. You should know that you are not alone, and also that no matter how bad things are, or seem likely to get, there is hope.
So, your girlfriend is an addict . . .
It doesn’t matter whether she’s addicted to alcohol, drugs, or both / all. As soon as it becomes clear that she has a real problem, there are a few things you need to get into your head immediately, and keep there.
First, you should know it’s not your fault.
Second, you should know and come to accept — as soon as possible — that she may never change.
Third, you should abandon even the slightest sliver of hope of fixing her. You never will, and your efforts to fix, help or heal will likely only make things worse for you both. Seriously.
If she beats her addiction, it will be on her own terms, on her own time, because of her own efforts. She has to face this demon herself.
Fourth, you should get yourself to a local AlAnon meeting as soon as possible. NOTE: This is not the same thing as an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting (an easy mistake that I made when I was going through this myself).
AlAnon is a separate group, that is based on AA principles, but is designed for the family and friends of those affected by addiction (the literature refers mostly to alcohol, but the underlying issues are the same).
It would be most appropriate for your girlfriend to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (or Narcotics Anonymous) meetings, herself, while you are attending AlAnon meetings — but don’t try suggesting this to her. If she is going to attend a meeting, she needs to do it for her own reasons.
Seeing a pattern yet?
The difficulty with addiction and relationships is that quite often, addicts are drawn to people who wish to be drawn to people they can save from addiction, and this forms the basis of what has come to be known as the Codependent relationship dynamic.
In order for the addict to fully enter recovery, they must face the consequences of their actions — consequences that they are usually shielded from when they are in codependent relationships.
In exchange, their codependent partners get to externalize all their own problems, deny they have their own issues to work through, and feel morally superior to their partner, who is always such a screw-up and always getting in the way of the happiness they could have together, etc.
If any of this is sounding remotely at all like your relationship, first, get to an Al-Anon meeting, stat — and second, buy or borrow a book like Codependent No More or anything else by Melody Beattie.
But I only date “quality” women!
I know, I know. I thought the same thing. And when I found my Queen — the athletic, sporty, intelligent, beautiful woman I was so sure I’d been waiting for all these years — what do you know, her past wasn’t as Quality as her present. (In point of painful fact, it wasn’t even her past.)
It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll just screen for women who don’t do drugs” or “It’s easy to stay away from alcoholic girls, they’re transparent” but reality isn’t always so clear-cut. The difficulty with advanced addiction is that often, the addicted person is incredibly adept at subtle manipulation, lying, and misdirection. This is because they have practiced these skills on themselves for years. Tragically.
If you’ve ever met that alcoholic who could be six drinks in and perfectly coherent, you know of what I speak.
In addition, if you have any codependent relationship patterns in your attraction schema (your parents were the slightest bit codependent, one or both parents drank heavily, etc) I can virtually guarantee you will at one point or another find yourself inexorably drawn towards a relationship with a woman who is codependent, addicted, or both (or otherwise matches your dominant attraction schema).
As a bonus, this will keep happening to you until you work your way through it.
What do I mean by “work your way through it”? Simply acknowledging it is not enough. You will have to do the hard work of redefining your own mental program, re-wiring yourself so that such patterns no longer arouse and attract you.
You will have to learn how not to be Captain Save-a-Damsel-In-Distress; how to not take responsibility for someone else’s problems; and how to take care of yourself (among many, many others).
It’s a long, hard road, but if you have this pattern in you, you will have to traverse it sometime, so you might as well do it sooner as opposed to later.
If you’re facing this challenge in your life, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
- Alcoholic’s Anonymous for Alcohol abuse
- Narcotic’s Anonymous for Narcotic abuse
- AlAnon website for loved ones of addicts
- The New Codependency on Amazon
Image by Arno Arno