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My Boyfriend Has a Drug Addiction

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

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Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

If you find yourself confiding in friends that “My boyfriend has a drug addiction”, chances are his substance abuse is already straining your relationship.

With 20 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorder according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, you’re certainly not alone.

Before you can meaningfully help a boyfriend addicted to drugs, you’ll need first to restore some order to a chaotic situation. We’ll show you how to go about that today, and we’ll then show you how to get your boyfriend the help he needs from a treatment program like Renaissance Recovery’s California addiction treatment center.

How to Deal with a Drug Addict Boyfriend

There are three things you can do to immediately stabilize the volatile situation of living with a boyfriend addicted to drugs:

  1. Educate yourself about addiction and recovery
  2. Set and maintain healthy boundaries
  3. Be sure not to enable your boyfriend and end up in a codependent relationship

1) Educate yourself about addiction and recovery

By learning as much as possible about addiction, you’ll empower yourself to make better decisions regarding your boyfriend’s drug abuse, and you’ll also be able to help provide him with information when he’s ready to engage with treatment.

If you have no idea where to start, here are some ideas for basic research:

  • Find out about the best methods of addiction treatment
  • Learn the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment
  • Discover how addiction is underpinned by biological changes – changes to the structure and function of the brain – as well as environmental triggers
  • Familiarize yourself with the terminology surrounding addiction and recovery

You should also establish to what extent your boyfriend is struggling with drugs. Often, people grappling with substance use disorder undergo many internal experiences, but there are also many signs and symptoms you can more readily pick up on. These include:

  • Developing noticeable issues with memory and cognition
  • Appearing intoxicated more and more frequently
  • Disrupted sleep patterns and lethargy
  • Looking tired or unwell more often
  • Being deceitful or lying about substance abuse
  • Only attending social events where alcohol is flowing
  • Becoming intoxicated before social events
  • Getting angry or defensive when questioned about substance abuse
  • Stealing money to buy drugs
  • Problems developing at home, work, or school
  • Neglected personal hygiene and appearance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if unable to use the drug in question

2) Set and maintain healthy boundaries

If you want your relationship to weather the stresses caused by a partner with substance abuse issues, you need to establish and maintain workable boundaries. Boundaries are clear guidelines or expectations regarding behaviors.

Not only will setting appropriate boundaries to protect your wellbeing, but you’ll also be more likely to help your boyfriend stop using drugs and begin the process of recovery. Your relationship should also benefit from this.

Common examples of boundaries include:

  • No alcohol or drugs allowed in the home
  • Your boyfriend is not allowed in the home when intoxicated
  • No drug-using friends allowed in the home
  • No personal communication with your boyfriend when he is intoxicated
  • Refusal to lend money or possessions

3) Be sure not to enable your boyfriend and end up in a codependent relationship

One of the trickiest things about helping a boyfriend with substance use disorder is to help him without enabling.

Engaging in enabling behaviors is not only counterproductive to helping your boyfriend but can ultimately lead to a codependent relationship forming. Codependency is grounded on a desire to help and demonstrate life, but the help extended often enables the person to continue abusing substances unchecked.

Signs of codependency include:

  • Taking responsibility for the person abusing substances
  • Making excuses for the person abusing substances
  • Putting the needs of the other person before your own
  • Difficulty talking openly about your feelings
  • Holding onto a damaged relationship in preference to being single
  • Difficulty setting and maintaining reasonable boundaries

Even if your relationship doesn’t start out as codependent, this can easily occur when your boyfriend is abusing substances.

So, what can you do to actively help your boyfriend?

How to Help a Drug Addict Boyfriend

Unfortunately, many of the most effective ways to help a boyfriend with substance use disorder may seem not only counterintuitive but also unkind. This is especially true of anyone involved in a codependent relationship. The best thing you can do is help them find a Rehabilitation center that will provide treatment as well as therapy to treat the root causes of addiction,

Keep the following pointers uppermost in mind:

  • Addiction is neither a choice nor a moral failing on your boyfriend’s part. Rather, addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease.
  • The relapsing aspect of addiction means you should pack plenty of patience, while also preparing yourself for a journey that may not be linear and may involve relapse – between 40% and 60% of all those who engage with recovery relapse at least once.
  • The importance of setting and maintaining appropriate boundaries cannot be overstated.
  • Ultimately, your boyfriend needs to commit to recovery. You cannot manage his addiction.
  • Encourage your boyfriend to get help. This is likely to include professional addiction treatment.
  • Help your boyfriend to find the right treatment center specializing in treating that type of addiction.
  • Be supportive without enabling your boyfriend’s substance use.
  • Get outside help for yourself. Consider groups like Nar-Anon or Al-Anon. These peer support groups are designed to help the loved ones of those grappling with substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder.

 Finding Rehab for Drug Addiction

If your boyfriend is ready to stop using drugs and commit to recovery, it’s crucial to find the right treatment center offering a suitable program. The nature of his substance use disorder will dictate whether inpatient rehab or a form of outpatient treatment like a PHP (partial hospitalization program) or IOP (intensive outpatient program).

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can often reduce the intensity of cravings for drugs, as well as the unpleasant symptoms accompanying drug withdrawal. Psychotherapy sessions – CBT and DBT are the most common forms of psychotherapy used in addiction treatment – will help your boyfriend identify triggers for substance use, and these sessions should help him to better regulate his emotions.

Most decent treatment centers will also offer a wide range of holistic therapies, vocational development programs, and a robust aftercare and alumni program. Recovery is a lifelong journey and the most reputable rehabs will help your boyfriend create a firm foundation, while also supporting you as you move into sustained recovery.

Here at Renaissance Recovery Center, we offer all of the above and much, much more. Get your boyfriend the help he needs from our Orange County drug rehab by calling 844.912.2284.

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

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Paige R

“They truly cared for me and the other people that I served with! From this group, I have made 8 new brothers and friends for life! We have continued on, after the program, to take care of each other”

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Courtney S

“Great staff who took the time to get to know me. They have a lot of experience in this field and have first hand experience with what I was going through. IOP is outstanding and really built up a ton of great relationships and found this program to be a ‘breath of fresh air’.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country