Is your loved one in long term recovery? Have you been able to find peace whether or not they are still using? Please share your story here! Sometimes when we’re in the thick of living with someone in active addiction, it can be difficult to find hope. When we’re living in lies, it can be hard to find a way to trust again. Other people’s stories of hope and recovery can help us see light. Your story might be exactly what someone else needs to hear.
I have to admit, I have not been on this community forum in a few years but I was invited back to share my story and I hope this can give some of you hope! I really tried my best to make it brief but I felt like there were a lot of good details I didn’t want to leave out.
When I first started my journey in 2017, I started dating someone and it turned into a deep connection very quickly. We both were not in a place to date anyone. I just got out of a long-term relationship and was extremely vulnerable and he was still in very early recovery. He was honest and upfront with me in the beginning letting me know he was about 3 months sober and living at a sober-living home. I thought it was a good sign that he was being so honest with me. I knew nothing about addiction at the time - only what I saw in movies and tv, so from my perspective he didn’t “look” like a junkie and seemed pretty normal. The relationship moved extremely fast as he proposed moving in together and I immediately said yes. Honesty and vulnerability was never something I got from my previous relationship so I was thrilled and naively thought it was going to be a solid relationship. Not long after he moved in, he started acting strange and becoming really distant. I was so confused because I thought things were going so well. Every time I asked a question about the way he was acting, it turned into a fight as he got highly defensive. I couldn’t understand the sudden change of behavior from him. I didn’t want to admit that he could have relapsed but when I finally acknowledged this, I started diving into my own research and education. While doing laundry one day, I noticed a pen that had been taken apart. When I confronted him, he told me it’s something he uses for work, which was a total lie. I found out later, he uses pens like a pipe to smoke heroin.
I wanted so badly to believe that I was the person who was going to change/fix him from his addiction. I tried so many different approaches but came to the heart-breaking conclusion that he couldn’t live with me anymore. I called his sober-living home and the house manager came over for a mini-intervention. He was defensive and denied everything at first but then finally realized he had no choice in the matter. He packed his things and left. I was completely heartbroken and severely depressed for months. I sought therapy and started attending Al-Anon meetings. I visited forums and other online communities to read other people’s stories. I learned I was codependent and had this constant need to be in control. I eventually found We The Village and loved the approaches they were teaching to cope with an addicted loved one, because it was so different from everything else I was hearing, plus it was evidence-based! I started learning how to set boundaries and approaching conversations differently. I started investing time into myself and prioritizing my mental health. I reminded myself that no matter what happens, I am protected and loved by God and I would never be faced with a problem I couldn’t handle. I mostly stopped caring whether this relationship was going to continue or not. He reached out every so often and we started going to church together but I made clear that we were just friends because I wanted to focus on myself. When I started to put in the work on myself, I noticed him doing the same. My journey, like many others, was not a linear path. It wasn’t as easy as putting in the work and things magically got better. There were SO MANY relapses, so much hurt, and painful conversations and decisions. There were many times I could have given up. This might sound really kooky but I felt God tell me that it was going to be worth it and I need to be patient. So I prayed, and just took things one day at a time.
We had been friends for a while and one day, he shared that he wanted to be in a relationship again and move in with me. I told him no because I knew he was still using. And then came one of the lowest of low moments of our relationship. His addiction had gotten so bad, he ran off to the other side of the country to be with another girl (one of many times he cheated on me). I knew he was doing this to hurt me and manipulate me. I knew he was using this poor girl so that he could continue using. A part of me had this feeling that he was going to come back. But either way, I also just needed to continue living my life instead of worrying about something I had no control over. Eventually he called me to apologize and told me he couldn’t live this life anymore. He made the decision to go to rehab for the 3rd time in his life. He decided to stay in rehab for almost a year and I could see a positive change in him. He moved in with me again and I had to reconfigure my mindset and learn to trust him again. It took some time. He let me know that when I trust him to make the right decision instead of trying to control the outcome, he does better so I did my best to work on that. He had relapsed a couple times but I could tell these times were different because he immediately was honest with me and started looking at alternative options for treatment because AA meetings were not working for him. Someone suggested suboxone and he worked with a doctor to figure out the right dosage for him.
He has been on suboxone for several years now and it has worked very well for him. He prefers not to keep track of how long he has been sober so I don’t have an exact number but it’s been almost 3 or 4 years now. He got a job where he started from the very bottom and worked his way up to a managerial role and now making a stable income. He has been able to settle all of his debt and now has an excellent credit score. We got married last year and now we have a baby on the way! We are saving up to buy a home for our expanding family. He has recently been really involved at our church and started leading small groups. He shares his story often with other church members and tells people he never thought he would have this life and is so grateful and blessed. I am so proud of how far he has come. Our marriage has been amazing so far. Overcoming what we did together (and individually) makes other conflict/issues seem easy to deal with in comparison.
I can’t say I never worry about another relapse. The fear is always in the back of my mind especially now that a child is entering the picture. It’s nice to know I have a wonderful community to turn to and some helpful tools that I can use. My biggest piece of advice is take care of yourself first. You cannot control the outcome and you cannot control the decisions someone else makes for themselves, but you can control what you do for yourself!
@Selfcare31 It’s so nice to see you back in this space and to hear how far you and your husband have come. Congrats on the little one on the way! Sending you love.
My husband started using opioids in his teens, when he got his hands on some painkillers. He was addicted to Vicodin when we first started dating but I had no idea what that could become. He eventually moved on to heroin, but after a few months, got clean on his own and started taking suboxone. He was clean for eight years. We got married, bought a house, had a kid. He relapsed, and addiction took over our home. I hadn’t experienced it like this before. He became a different person, he lied, became isolated and distant. The lies were what got to me the most. He’d constantly lie about where he was and what he was doing. He’d say he was working late but really he was driving into the city to get drugs, while I was taking care of our baby at home. I started feeling very resentful. I found out he was using when I found a text message from his drug dealer. I started seeing a therapist - I had become so unhappy and I realized I had to learn to love myself again. I felt so alone. He went to rehab after I told him things couldn’t go on like this. He felt he had no other choice. He came home from rehab the day before Christmas, and he relapsed and was right back in right before New Years Eve. He was supposed to come with me on a work trip for NYE. Instead he spent it in rehab and I spent it alone in a hotel room.
After rehab, he started going to meetings. I started doing yoga, going to Al-Anon meetings, reaching out to other women’s groups to meet new people and find a community of my own. I was still seeing my therapist and we started going to couples counseling. Our calendar was filled with meetings and appointments all made to heal ourselves and our marriage. We were getting so much better at communicating and building back trust.
He relapsed again and I left to stay with my sister out of state. I couldn’t live in the lies anymore. I had no idea what would happen when I returned, but I needed to remove myself from the situation in order to take care of myself. He detoxed while I was gone, and things were better when I got back. I think that was the point in his recovery really made a difference. He’s slipped since then, but every time he gets right back up. There are still lies, but the truth always follows.
When he was in active addiction, I searched meetings, the Internet, social media for another wife of a heroin addict who actually stayed with her husband. I met a lot of parents of drug addicts, wives of alcoholics, but very few spouses of drug addicts. It made me start to believe that there was no hope for my marriage. The Village Community was (is) the only space where I’ve connected with other people who have stayed with their partners through addiction and recovery of drug use. It’s tough to talk to other people about it, especially with the stigma surrounding drugs like heroin. Community has been a huge part of my own recovery process. Finding community through Al-Anon, through women’s circles, and through this space have helped me find my truth, practice compassion, and find joy in my own life no matter how my husband is behaving. And now, when he slips and I ask him “How can I support you?” he tells me, “Just keep doing what you’re doing. Just keep being you.”
I echo @Selfcare31’s advice: Take care of yourself. You can’t support and show up for someone else until you’re willing and able to do the same for yourself. And if you believe you are enabling bad behaviors, then just think about how you can enable positive change. When one person in the relationship changes, the relationship changes.
I remember feeling hopeless when I noticed all the stories I was reading ended in a broken relationship or marriage. I am so grateful to have found someone like you who have similar stories to mine! It makes me feel less alone
Thanks for the opportunity to share good news, Jacqui, and hi folks- don’t despair!! It’s a long story, you’re not at that chapter yet!
My son and I are constantly navigating our communication, etc., since trust etc gets obliterated during active periods. My current mantra is “OBSERVE DON’T ABSORB” which helps me honor his dominion over decisions and at the same time draws a boundary for myself around how much I can be part of his story. For me- the most important thing is learning how to listen and stand by, and be brave and stalwart. My son has really become much more aware in the past two years. Coincidentally, if he doesn’t drink he just does a whole lot better.
It’s much more honest. I never want to say goodbye to my own son. I can stand alongside him and be as real as I can be. He knows what he needs to do, and it’s nothing that I can do for him. If I’m overthinking his options I’m ignoring my own challenges. It’s a misplaced love, outgrown and unhelpful. But I learn, and it’s been almost 10 years since my son did rehab and I did the course. We haven’t had 100% sobriety or perfection. Conclusion: human. Recommendation: Keep at it.