What Do You Do When Hubby's on the Junk?

Dear Dategirl, Do you have any ideas on what to do about a drug-addicted spouse? A very good friend is going through a tough time right now with her husband, whom I also adore. She knew about his past heroin addiction, but truly believed it was ancient history when they got together. But she's come to find out that he's been struggling to keep his habit under control the entire two years they've been married. They don't have children yet, so I think my friend is leaning toward leaving him. I think even more than the drug use, she's livid that he's been lying to her all this time. But she really does love him and wants him to get help. He's in denial and swears everything's under control. (It's not.) I told her that he needs to go to rehab and she has to be really tough on him. What do you think? —Hurting for a Friend Oddly enough, I'm very familiar with heroin addicts because I spent three years of my life completely immersed in junkie culture, after I got a job studying heroin addiction for a government grant. One thing I gleaned very quickly is that you can't count on an active junkie to tell the truth—especially about their addiction. Understandably, it can be really difficult for an addict's partner not to take that personally. As with infidelity, the lies can be more devastating to a relationship than any drug. That's not to say heroin users are bad—for the most part, I really liked the people I worked with. But I certainly wouldn't choose to be married to someone actively addicted to drugs. It sounds as though your friend wasn't given the luxury of making that choice, which is incredibly unfair. No wonder she's pissed off. You sound like a good pal, so I suggest you locate a good Al-Anon group for you and her. Since he's your buddy too, you'll not only get a lot out of it personally, but you'll be a good source of support for your friend. The reason I'm suggesting Al-Anon and not advising her to have Candy Finnigan and the Intervention crew on speed dial is because if he's in denial, it's not going to do any good. Right now your friend needs to put herself first and figure out what she needs. Please note that every group has a different dynamic, so if at first you don't succeed, try another one. Even if he does decide to get clean and she chooses to stick with him, it's going to be a long road with many twists and bumps. It takes most addicts several attempts before sobriety sticks, if it ever does. Along the way there'll be fights and relapses, and an incredible amount of frustration. Thank the deity of your choice there are no babies to worry about. Don't be surprised if he gets angry when she starts going to Al-Anon. Addiction thrives on secrecy, and, ironically enough, there's a good chance he's going to feel very betrayed that she's "announcing" to the world that she lives with an addict (especially because he's not an addict, according to him). He'll probably also panic that she'll leave him once she feels supported and strong. Valid fears, but they shouldn't stop her from taking care of business. Being "tough" on him isn't going to help, because aside from Charlie Sheen, most addicts already feel like shit. Telling him he sucks is only going to reinforce his bad behavior. That doesn't mean she can't voice her anger and frustrations; she just needs to take a giant step back and try to avoid thinking his addiction has anything to do with her. Though the results no doubt impact her, it's not her job to "fix" him. dategirl@seattleweekly.com

 
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