Friday
April 6, 2007
SGN.org
Volume 35
Issue 14
 
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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

 

 



 
Ask Michael
My partner is now using meth
by Michael Raitt, MA, LMHC - SGN Contributing Writer

Michael, for a while now, I have been suspecting that my partner has been doing meth. We have been in relationship for just over 5 years and after we had a big fight, he finally admitted he has been doing this for a couple of months. I was really pissed and now I dont know what to do. I hear a lot of bad things about it. How can I get him to stop?

Michael: Thank you for your email. It is clear that, although you have been suspecting his use, it has come as a shock. It is natural when loved ones finally find out that someone they care for is using meth that they get angry and afraid and then want to jump in and try to get the person to stop.

No matter what happens, meth users/addicts are not bad people. In fact, when they are not impacted by their use, they are the great people that we knew and loved before they began using. The nature of meth, though, takes the majority of them down a path of unpredictable, erratic, and dangerous behaviors. This leaves partners, friends, and family in a difficult, painful situation.

Undoubtedly, your partners use will effect your relationship together unless he stops now. Of course, I dont know the extent to which your partner is currently using, but anytime someone in the relationship is being drawn away, it will have consequences in the relationship. Meth draws people away because the user spends more and more time away using and eventually, both cognitively and emotionally, the user becomes more distant and unavailable. Users begin to lie and manipulate situations so they can continue with their use. This leaves partners doubting themselves and questioning their own perceptions and sanity. Appropriately so, you are likely to become worried, more questioning, and more angry if this continues. It leaves the partners hurting and frustrated. It becomes a very difficult cycle to live within.

As well, coming down off of meth takes its toll on the person using  depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Of course, these changes in behaviors affect their partners and contribute to making the relationship volatile and unpredictable. This puts stress on both partners in the relationship.

When someone uses meth, it can take hours or days for the drug to leave their system completely. With long-term use, it can take months for the drug to clear out completely. Because of this, loved ones arent ever sure they are dealing with the person they used to love. Also, because it takes so long for the drug to be out of the system, the users behaviors and perceptions continue to be influenced to varying degrees by the drug. This dynamic keeps the relationship unstable and on edge.

Meth users can become paranoid  even to the point of psychotic (drug induced psychosis  a complete break from reality due to the use of a substance). They can begin to develop obsessive behaviors. This is all due to the effects meth has on brain chemistry. These behaviors and distorted perceptions are very scary and difficult for partners and loved ones to deal with. The conflicts, uncertainty, stress, and concern can become overwhelming and begin to affect those involved. Partners and loved ones become depressed, anxious, and hyper-vigilant. These symptoms can spill over and affect other areas of their lives such as work, family, personal health/self-care, and friendships.

For you, if your partners use continues, you will have to come to terms with a couple of things. First, you have to look out for your best interest. This is hard to hear and harder to do. What this means is that you cant sacrifice values and your well-being (emotional, physical, spiritual, financial, relationships with others). You will be faced with hard decisions, like setting and maintaining clear boundaries so you are safe, separating, or ending the relationship. You will be dealing with feelings of grief, anger, frustration, anxiety, and depression. You can get help and perspective for all of these things by working with a therapist. I have worked with meth users and their partners and know the anguish and struggles they go through. I also know they can get through it and overcome.

Second, your partner has got to want to stop and change for his own sake. In my opinion, the chances of success are higher for a user/addict when he/she takes the initiative and responsibility for changing their lives themselves. When they do it for someone else, my experience has been that they create resentments and rationales for using again. You can encourage and suggest that your partner get help but he has got to be willing to do this on his own and for himself.

It is excruciatingly painful for partners of users to realize that there is not a lot they can actually do. They feel selfish because they are being told that they have to look out for themselves when their partner is engaging in dangerous behaviors. Of course, they want to do something for their loved one but they can only really do things for themselves  which, ironically, is a loving act for the user as well. You can love your partner well and support him and still let him work out his own stuff while you are looking after yourself.

You may want to seriously consider doing some personal therapy (if you are not already) to help you and support you in taking care of yourself. There are individual therapists in this area, such as myself, who can work with you on these issues. Eventually, you may want to do couples counseling but this is something youll decide down the road.

On April 18, 2007, from 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm there is a workshop at Dunshee House (206-322-2437) for Friends, Partners, and Family members of Gay and Bi Men who use Meth. You may consider checking that out.

Finally, your partner should consider looking into therapy or treatment  its not too early! Again, some individual therapists, such as myself, will work with meth users/addicts. Another excellent resource is D. L. Scott, at Seattle Counseling Services for Sexual Minorities (206-323-1768). He is experienced and very skilled in working with meth users/addicts on an individual basis and with groups. There are other skilled counselors there as well. Your partner can give D.L. Scott a call to find out about group and/or individual work.

I wish you both the best of luck in this. I understand your concern. I hope your partner sees the value in getting help now. There is a saying in 12 step about, &hitting bottom. A wise client of mine pointed out to me that, You hit bottom when you stop digging. I hope you both will take good care of yourselves and that you both love each other well and actively work towards your own individual health and, eventually, the health of the relationship.

Michael Raitt, MA, LMHC, can be reached at 206-325-4113, by email at askingmichael@comcast.net or by visiting www.michaelraitt.com.

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