Wrong to love an addict?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-20-2009
Wrong to love an addict?
Mon, 08-29-2011 - 12:19am

I am new to this message board. However, I don't feel like I am a newcomer when it comes to addiction, how it affects the user or the people whose lives the addict touches.

I apologize ahead of time for this "book" I have written...

I was prompted to seek some advice from people like me who have seen and understand addiction. To give you some background, I have been in a relationship for 4 years with an addict. We have not always had a problem with his addiction, it has only been the last two years, roughly, that we have suffered the most. It was earlier this year, that my partner recieved a rude awakening and was living on the streets for a short period, only to end up in jail. It was then he decided he truly wanted to be sober and, for the first time, sought treatment on his own will. Upon his release from the facility he chose, things were going well for a while, but little by little his recovery fell apart. He ended up slipping a couple times within the few months he has been back home. But more recently, he had a full fledged relapse and went on a binger for a week. He is now in jail again, due to unpaid fines from when he was in jail earlier this year.

Anyhow, some time within this last week, a somewhat mutual friend of ours (more my partner's friend and an aquaintance of mine) claims that my boyfriend broke into his house and stole some of his property. Now, I wouldn't put it past him to do something like that, specifically under the influence, but here is the problem. This "friend" of ours (we'll call him Jake) got ahold of me tonight, looking for my partner. Somehow, what I thought was a simple question and answer turned into a messy argument.. "Jake" basically told me that I am being an idiot by allowing my boyfriend into my life. He told me that our kids (we have one 15 month old boy, and another one coming) are going to have to suffer because of my choosing to be in a relationship with him. He said that my partner is just stupid and selfish and that I am just making up excuses for him, that if he breaks into my house and steals my things, he will just use the "excuse" that "he's an addict."

Here are my thoughts. I attended the family days at the treatment facility with my boyfriend and I have also sought support through Al Anon. What I have learned, and anyone, please correct me if I am wrong, is that addiction is not a choice. Addicts do not use because they are dumb or because they have it out for anyone, it's because they suffer from a disease they cannot control. I know my boyfriend well enough to realize that the person he is while he is using is not the person he is sober. As a man, as a lover or as a father. That being said, his actions while he is under the influence cannot be justified or made right by any "excuse." What I was simply trying to explain to "Jake," is that I have reached a better understanding of addiction. It bothers me when people call my partner stupid. He slacked in his recovery, yes, but does that make him stupid? Does being an addict mean that you are any less intelligent than anyone else? And as far as my children, I feel that they are going to be affected by his addiction whether or not we are in a relationship. I have already set boundaries as far as their safety is concerned, if he is using. I think detaching with love is a wonderful thing and it is a tool that has helped me to cope.

My question is, am I wrong here? Am I crazy for being commited to this person I have been with for 4 years? I visited him in jail today. He has been there for 2 days and his head has cleared. He did a lot of crying and spilled his guts to me about how he has been feeling lately and why he thinks he let his recovery slip. He still stands by his desire to be sober. I feel like his journey for sobriety is still so young. Still, I understand the risk I take by being a relationship with this man. There is no guarantee that he will stay sober. He could relapse when he gets out of jail or he could relapse 10 years down the road. Does this mean I should just completely give up on him? Am I being a bad mother by allowing him into my life, by trying to be supportive of his sobriety? Please, anyone with an opinion or advice, please help!

Community Leader
Registered: 09-14-1997
Mon, 08-29-2011 - 7:23am

Hi, I am Beth, a recovering alcoholic. I am married to a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I have more than twenty years of continuous sobriety and so does my husband. Like your boyfriend, my husband spent time in prison due to his addiction. I was not part of his life then, we met when he was 2 years sober and became involved when I was over a year sober. I have a pretty good handle on addiction and recovery from the inside also.

I think your friend had your best interest at heart. Stupid pretty much sums up my drinking career. Pretty much sums up most addict's behavior.

Facilities don't get people clean and sober. Making choices to get some kind of after care does get people sober. Making the daily choice not to use gets people clean and sober. Not lying to one's self and one's significant others makes one clean and sober.

I have no doubt he cried and felt sorry for what he had done...doesn't mean he isn't going to do it again. You can stay with him...by all means...but don't delude yourself that he can't help himself. Millions have. Addicts and alcoholics are responsible for their drugging and drinking. It is a disease, if you will, but there is treatment.

Please read scroll down and read the message Wanted to Tell You The News, put the word purple into the search bar for the board and read her posts...you might also want to read Co-Dependent No More, which helps me keep separate my husband's issues from my own.

Love is never wrong...but some old-timers in AlAnon can explain what detaching with love means.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-23-2004
Sun, 10-16-2011 - 11:52am
First and foremost, think of your children not your man. When it's all said and done, being the best mother you can be to your children is what will matter most to you It could not be a good atmosphere at home if he is using, and you are setting a horrible example for them. Would you want your daughter living with a drug addict? I doubt she likes you living with one either. I'm not being judgmental here. We have all done ridiculous things in our lives wishing later on we had used better judgment. Save yourself years of suffering for yourself and your children and get him out of there. Then see a counselor about why your self esteem is so low you choose to live with an addict. It is what I am doing and it is helping tremendously. Your life will be filled with sadness, misery and irreparable harm to your children that you will never be able to repair. You'll get over him, believe me, and the next time will choose differently when starting a relationship with a man, hopefully. Quit believing his lies. He may be well intentioned but actions speak louder than words. In jail? This will ge an ongoing thing I would imagine. In my opinion, you are not being supportive of his sobriety, you are being an enabler. Do your children have friends? Sleepovers with this addict there? Pretty soon everyone will find out what is going on and other children won't be allowed in your home. Children should not have to worry about such things, and believe me they do. Depression, anxiety, medical issues result from children being in dangerous situations. Do you talk to them about why you choose to live with him when really what you are doing is putting himi first and leaving your children to suffer the consequences. Someone said all these things to me and it hit home. I was so glad she did. It helped me see things as they really were, and I got out of a bad situation saving me so much grief later on. Best of luck to you. Do the right thing. You know what it is. You'll be so much happier and so will your children.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-07-2011
Thu, 12-08-2011 - 1:44pm
Its so hard to be in the position you are in. At least you are trying to gain control by going to al anon. Does you partner live with you If so maybe it would be a good idea to put some distance between the 2 of you for awhile. Have him move into his own place until he can prove that he is going to be able to stay clean and sober for a period of time that the two of you can set between yourselves. I know how hard it is to love someone that is an addict expecially when you have kids together and to know what the right thing to do is. Its not always 'wrong' to stay together. It depends on the people involved and what the addict is willing to do to get clean. My SO ruined about 6 years of our 25 years marriage but we are still together and he is clean now. It wasn't easy and I am sure it won't be easy for you either. Still even now we have a few issues with trust that come up and we have to work on but what relationship doesn't have issues. No one can tell you to leave your partner or to stay that is something you need to work out for yourself and your kids. You need to put the kids first at all times and if the addict starts coming first in your life then you need to make some changes to fix that..Hope this make sense to you and helps at least a bit..Feel free to look me up anytime on here if you need to chat..