my bf of four years has been using various drogas on and off but has recently delved into the world of dope. he only sniffs it (no needles)

Dear LATP,

my bf of four years has been using various drogas on and off but has recently delved into the world of dope. he only sniffs it (no needles) but he's doin like 2 bags a day and idrk what to do. it inhibits his ability to go out and do things with me and i'm not sure where to draw the line. he's still goin to work and jury duty and getting his shit done but it's causing a bit of a rift.

i guess my q is - when do you know you should cut someone out of yr life??

Dear fren,

You ask, “When do you know you should cut someone out of your life?” My answer is an emphatic

"NOW!!!!”

Let’s walk through it.

You always hear “addicts are liars,” but I didn’t understand exactly what that meant until I was involved with one myself.

Addicts who are using drugs are liars because they lie directly to you-- about where they’ve been, about what they’ve been doing, about money, etc.

But really, addicts are liars because they’ve built elaborate scaffolding around a big problem. They can never be entirely emotionally honest with themselves, let alone with a romantic partner, because they are too busy tiptoeing around a rapidly decaying and festering emotional wound they’re pretending doesn’t exist.

And to be intimate with an addict who is using means that you have to pretend, too.

Romantic intimacy requires openness; openness requires introspection; denial prevents introspection; daily heroin use implies daily denial.

This is math for: your boyfriend is not currently capable of being a healthy romantic partner.

I notice that the language you are using distances this issue from addiction: you write in English, but change the word drugs to “drogas,” which implies a certain euphemistic intent. You call it “dope” instead of heroin. This impulse is absolutely understandable, but I want to encourage you to call your boyfriend’s problem by its name.  

Addiction can be mystifyingly hard to spot in those closest to us. The media representations of drug addiction we’ve internalized culturally-- especially those portraying heroin addiction-- focus on extreme ruin. But you do not have to sleep on a stained mattress on the floor of an abandoned warehouse to qualify as a drug addict. Addiction often looks very normal. Many addicts, like your boyfriend, go to work every day and serve on juries.

Your boyfriend is unable to spend time with you because he is too high to function. This is a relationship-ending level problem. A good romantic partnership is led by mutual respect, acceptance and stable support. It is unfair that you should carry these banners alone. It is exhausting, it is draining, it is spiritually ruinous to be the keeper of this kind of pain, and you do not have to do it.

Sometimes, you love something in someone else, and it’s beautiful and pure and you can see it clearly, and it’s so bright, it’s almost blinding. But if they can’t see it themselves, they might make the choice to nurture and develop a different part of their soul because it feels right to them.

And sometimes they are wrong.

And the part they’ve picked is gnarled and brittle and empty. And they let it grow and grow until whatever lightness you loved is obscured.

It’s tragic and hard to watch and the impulse to do something to help can be overwhelming. But unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do to halt his addiction.

This is not your fault, and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Before you leave, tell him succinctly that you cannot be in his life anymore because of his drug use. The most loving thing you can do for him is to discontinue normalizing and excusing his addiction. He needs to hear the truth. If it’s easier, you can write it down and send it to him. You can encourage him to seek help and offer him the following resources: there are Narcotics Anonymous and Heroin Anonymous meetings all over the world. These programs are effective and offer incredible networks of support.

Maybe, just maybe, losing you will be a wakeup call for him, and he will seek help.

Let that console you but not motivate you. He is not your responsibility.

It's important to recognize that while he is not a bad person, and while he may not mean to hurt you, this is not a healthy environment in which to foster love and intimacy any more. 

It’s time to turn your focus towards yourself and your own well-being. I’d encourage you to start seeing a therapist to help you grow through this big transition. 

Alternately, you might find a good community with Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous. Both groups offer support to friends and loved ones of addicts of all kinds. You can also pick up a copy of Codependent No More (or listen to it as an audiobook), which might help you to understand the ways in which relationships with addicts can blur healthy boundaries.

It is heartbreaking that someone you love has lost himself like this, but remember: you are not leaving to punish him. You are leaving to protect yourself.

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