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Enough Lies… Give Me the Truth!

beers in fridge

rachaeltwin wrote in with good news about her Loved One. After 4 relapses during lockdown, he's finally getting help. But she's still struggling with the lies, which may or may not be a thing of the past.

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My partner has relapsed at least 4 times during lockdown. The last time was really bad and fortunately he sought out help through narcotics anonymous. He has done some zoom meetings online and met a couple of sponsors, this is a huge step for him and for our relationship to be able to move forward.

The one thing I struggle with is the lies that he’s told during his relapses. I feel like I know exactly what happened and what he took but he won’t tell me the truth about it.

Should I just let it go, wanting to know the truth about what he took and him admitting that to me, because he’s getting help and has admitted he relapsed but won’t tell me about it, is that really important now?

I do find it hard not knowing the truth but I equally don’t want to have any negative impact on his recovery.

Am I being selfish?

Please help as I’m really struggling to know how to handle it."

First off, we are thrilled for your partner, and you, about his recent progress and participation in meetings, getting a sponsor, etc. As you said, this is HUGE, and we all know that this represents a big, difficult step for our Loved Ones. We're so heartened for you both. As you said, this is very helpful (or will be), in allowing your relationship to evolve.

Secondly, you are of course not being selfish, wanting your partner to be forthcoming and honest— it's one of the basics of respectful human interaction! Your wanting and needing that makes perfect sense to all of us here.

Early Recovery: It's a good idea to lower your expectations

That being said, your partner is in the very early stages of recovery, it's been just weeks since he started seeking help after 4 relapses.

In our experience, and that of many of the families on this site, Loved One's "bad" behaviors won't necessarily stop just because they've stopped using.

We've all heard the phrase "recovery is a process" — and we repeat this phrase so often because recovery is still so misunderstood by so many of us. As badly as we would like for our Loved One to flip a switch and go back to being the person we knew and loved and appreciated so much, with all their best facets, this simply doesn't, and can't, happen overnight.

Learning to become – or return to being – a mature, respectful adult with good communication habits (including honesty, and anger management…) is likely to take a while.

Can we expect honesty? When will they finally admit the truth?

One big stumbling block for so many families on this site is honesty – and what to do with the lies. As a general rule, we really discourage our family members from asking questions that will require the Loved One to have to respond honestly about their use, their relapse, etc. This is too hard for most of our Loved Ones unless they are well on their way to recovery. And in fact they will most likely give you signs that they are ready to talk more openly, when they are. Until then, as frustrating as this is, you may be setting yourself up for more tension, or more lies, which is their go-to behavior when feeling cornered.

This being said, you ARE allowed to let him know when it hurts!!

Please try to do so with 'I' statements, which will honor your feelings, as well as allow him to hear you without feeling targeted. See more on this in Module 4 on Communication.

So this is sort of a long answer but the short answer is, Yes, you should let it go – as you're able.

We're not perfect and CRAFT is about recentering and tweaking our communications on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis, to facilitate your Loved One's recovery, and move towards a better scene between the two of you. We make mistakes too, we sometimes relapse to our old, unproductive communication habits, but we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, apologize if we're able, and move on.

With self-care, family members can achieve wonders

What will allow you, dear rachaeltwin, to come back to this kinder, more compassionate communication with your Loved One (because it is work for most of us to be this fair, this nice, this understanding!) is granting yourself self-care.

Each and every day, finding a few minutes (or more if you can swing it) to do what feels centering for you. To slow down your breath, calm your thoughts, take a load off.

We devote an entire Learning Module (7) to these skills, and have created an entire blog (the Sanctuary — it should be your best friend) to self-care…why?

Because it is what allows our family members to achieve wonders with their Loved Ones. And because your Loved One needs you to be solid, and centered, as much as possible, to be a real support during his recovery. And because now that he is starting to focus on himself, you can relax a little and put your focus back on yourself a bit more. You deserve it.

We are rooting for both of you. Keep working the program, you are doing so great, asking all the right questions. And don't forget, it's not selfish to want to be treated optimally. For now, you will be the one to do that for yourself. And we all hope that your Loved One will one day soon be able to do it for you, too. In the meantime, lean on us.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Hello.
    I’m still waiting for my boyfriend to receive support for his addiction, which he continues to have lapses with every so often.
    It’s so very slow with the support that he has reached out to, we are waiting for them to come back to him and it’s been over a month now since he had his first assessment phone call.
    I confronted him yesterday because I thought he had taken something. Of course he denied it and we went to bed separately and have not spoken today.
    I struggle with where I go from here. Do I bring it up with him again, or do I leave it?
    I don’t want him to think we can just sweep it under the carpet but I also get tired of having a “check mate” situation where he’s denying it and I’m not accepting the lie.

    I don’t want to go down the drug test route as I feel I just know when he’s taken something and I don’t need proof and it could damage our relationship doing things like that.

    Do I follow the guidance of rewarding him when he’s sober, how do I approach when he’s used one time, I find it hard not to speak the truth about it and go back to “normal” I worry by not discussing it, he won’t realise his wrongs.

    I slept in a different bed to him and didn’t cook dinner and have not communicated with him since last night, as a natural consequence for his behaviour. Is that enough now, if he comes home clean do I go back to “normal”?

    1. Thanks so much for writing in and describing the recent events, rachaeltwin.

      The first thing I would like to really encourage you to do is watch (or rewatch) the eLearning modules in their entirety. There are 8 of them. We ask that everyone start by watching the safety module, making sure to put a safety plan in place (even if today you don’t see the need for it), and then move on to Modules 3-8 which are all about Your New Strategy.

      I often think of Laurie MacDougall, one of our collaborators, who came to this site as a family member looking to help her son and help herself. Before she got to the point of writing guest blog posts for us, hosting our podcast and creating the REST support group model (, she was a family member using this site and trying to get the most out of it. She had come to the point in her situation where she was ready to be part of a huge transformation. CRAFT and the Allies site allowed that to happen.

      She has told us, time and time again, that whenever she was feeling lost, or unsure of next steps with her son’s SUD, she came back to the modules. She has watched them hundreds of times. And she claims that _each time_ she watches, she grasps something new.

      We’re not asking you to watch hundreds of times, but the eLearning modules are the CORE of this program, and the best way to truly learn, and be ready to practice, CRAFT like a pro. You’re on a self-guided eLearning site. The effort must begin with you.

      We are here to support you with those efforts. You are guiding yourself through the site but we are here when you bump into stumbling blocks. Pinky promise.

      So, now, to your questions.

      Regarding the occasion you describe, where you believed he had used, here are some suggestions:

      1) Go with your gut (as to whether or not he has used), even if you don’t have hard proof. Make that decision and then stick to it. It sounds like this is what you did.

      2) Do NOT confront, (CRAFT is all about NOT confronting, because confronting burns bridges, creates extra conflict and bad feelings, and doesn’t move things forward). More often than not, your Loved One feels judged. We want to avoid this.

      3) DO remove rewards. You describe having slept in a different bed and not cooking dinner for him. These are absolutely appropriate and right-on. The “chill” of your absence, and the lack of sweet gestures like cooking him dinner, will be felt at just the right degree if it’s done in a neutral way. Being confrontational or angry with him, then removing rewards on top of that, sends mixed signals; he won’t get the point, and you may feel icky.

      (BTW, what you describe is not a “natural consequence,” it’s “removing rewards”. A natural consequence of his substance use is basically what would happen if no one intervened, such as missing work because you didn’t wake him up, or getting a DUI because he used then drove…)

      4) You ask whether you should “go back to normal” if/when he comes home and isn’t using … YES! CRAFT is practiced (and readjusted) in the moment. What was true last night is no longer relevant. If he’s not using, you come in closer, you reward with your presence, and other things that you know he’ll appreciate (

      Please re-watch all the Modules (less than 2 hours altogether) again and brush up on your CRAFT stance. You are truly moving in the right direction and it would be a pity to quit now.

      One way that Laurie has helped me to better understand the effort that the family member must make (on CRAFT, therapy or other self-care pursuits, etc.) is through her frequent reminders about the level of Change, Effort and Perseverance we are usually expecting of our Loved Ones (in or out of treatment). Can we match that effort, can we find it in ourselves to do our work, too? Can we be a model for them in those realms?

      Deepak Chopra, meditation and alternative-health expert, insists that “Like brings like.” The more you are embodying the energy of change, growth, introspection and evolution, the more that energy will come back to you from all around. This is also known as the Law of Attraction. Not part of the CRAFT method, but food for thought!

      To wrap up, I’d love to suggest that you check out the podcast episode in which Laurie tells the story of her internal journey when she learned her Loved One was using opiates. People in recovery are often encouraged to do 90 meetings in 90 days. Despite the fact that it was her son who suffered from SUD, Laurie got up and did 90 meetings in 90 days! Listen to her inspiring story…

      All the best to you and your Loved One, rachaeltwin!

      1. Thank you so much for your reply and all of your advice.

        You were right that I should go back to the modules. I have and am going to repeat this. I forgot little things and they have helped already the last few days.

        My partner lapsed again this evening, only I wasn’t there, I phoned him and could tell straight away. On the phone, instead of confronting, I said “I’m not feeling great I’ll speak to you tomorrow.” He was texting me asking what was wrong and I just said “I’ll speak to you tomorrow, goodnight”. His reply was “fine, good nite x”. I feel like this was the right way to handle this.

        Inside I’m feeling sick and frustrated again, it’s upsetting it is happening more frequently atm but I’m doing my best to follow CRAFT and your advice.
        I will speak to him tomorrow and hope he is clean so that I can see him.

        I know what triggered him today. His young son was hurt at school and had to be taken to hospital for stitches. Worry about his kids is a huge trigger.

        I had plans to see my friends this evening ( part of me looking after me ) but now I’m wondering, if this was to happen again (the worry he expressed for his
        son) should I have spent the evening with him instead and cancelled my plans? To help prevent a lapse?

        Thank you again for all your help and advice, being able to just speak out in these moments, and see if I am doing the right thing, does help such a lot.

        1. Hi rachaeltwin,

          It sounds like you are really getting the hang of this. It is not easy and we may not be perfect at it, but going back and revisiting the videos, exercises and practice will only make you feel stronger and improve your situation. I found the more I practiced, the more confident I became in what I was doing.

          Your next question is: “…should I have spent the evening with him instead and cancelled my plans? To help prevent a relapse?”

          The simplest answer to this is no. In fact, it is really important that you do not put your plans aside, especially plans to practice self-care, to “prevent” his relapse.

          When I’m unsure of how to proceed with my Loved One, there are several questions I ask myself, to help me to determine the best plan of action.
          Here are a few questions you might ask yourself in this situation:

          – “Do I have the power to prevent a relapse?”

          – “Am I asking my Loved One to take care of something extraordinary? Or, is it a ‘normal’ situation and expectation?”

          – “If my Loved One relapses, is he in immediate danger?” or,

          – “Is this a time that I can let him take the reins (even if he makes a not so good decision)?” In other words, “could this be a learning opportunity for him, and perhaps for me, too?”

          We, as partners and supporters on this journey, have to also make space for our LOs to make mistakes. We are not perfect and neither are they. I learned to expect mistakes, and that was just a part of the learning process.

          I also realized that every time my LO was going through some sort of situation that was causing him to experience difficult feelings, *I needed to back off and let him feel those feelings.* If I didn’t, the message I was inadvertently sending him was “you’re not capable of dealing with them on your own — you need me or extra care in order to cope.” By backing away (and doing it confidently, even though I may not feel that way), and letting my Loved One sit and have to figure out how to handle these situations, I’m sending the message “I trust you, I believe you can cope.”

          Next time a situation like this arises, you might be able to send the message to him that you have confidence in him and that he can handle the situation on his own (even though you are not completely convinced). It might sound something like:

          “It sounds like your son got quite an injury at school today but luckily he’s got you and the care he needs. We know he is in safe hands. I’ll check in later and see how our patient is doing.”

          Words like these can plant a seed in your partners head that maybe he is more capable than even he believes.

          Now of course this does not mean he will make the right choices or be able to cope yet (which is why giving him space to make mistakes is important). But your continuing efforts to implement CRAFT skills can steer him in the right direction.

          It’s also important that all us of be able to sit and experience difficult feelings. Running from our feelings or looking for the immediate fix so we can get away from them, only reinforces avoidance as a coping mechanism. Module 7 is a great resource to dig deeper into this concept.

          Letting difficult emotions flood in and just be for a while is okay. We are supposed to feel all of our emotions, the good and the bad. This is true for us and for our LOs.

          None of this easy, in fact it is quite difficult and can be confusing while trying to figure it all out. It sounds as if you are really working to try and implement new skills. Removing rewards and not engaging when you knew (or even suspected) he was drinking, comes straight out of Module 6. Kudos!

          I hope this helps and I admire your diligence and willingness to give new ideas and concepts a chance. Keep us updated of your progress!


  2. Hello!
    After getting help for myself through this website and through accessing help from a CRAFT therapist, it has helped hugely with my partner’s continuous lapses and finally getting somewhere with him willing to get help and be honest about his lapses. Which is all really such a huge step.

    This evening was the first time he had a phone conversation with someone from SMART recovery and they just did an initial assessment. He told me about bits of the phone call and his answers etc, and I found myself feeling upset and frustrated inside. He really downplayed his lapses and the problems that they have caused. He also would say “I am in control because I don’t take opiates for longer than a few days”.

    It makes me feel like he thinks I’m overreacting and it’s not a problem what he does, which hurts because of how much he’s put me through at each lapse, and the problems it’s caused with the trail of destruction emotionally for us, and for me afterwards. It’s just so horrible.

    Do I need to even bother having this discussion with him? Or do I hope the people dealing with him in SMART will hopefully see past his denial?

    1. Thrilled to hear that our resources have had a huge impact. I got shivers reading that first paragraph! We’re so glad to hear that your Loved One is being a bit more forthcoming, and getting some help!!

      You ask an important question. Your Loved One is downplaying the extent of his use, and this feels insulting to you. It awakens the lingering pain you carry after so much “emotional destruction” as you say. We get this.

      At the risk of repeating what I wrote above, I just want to gently remind you that early recovery can last a long time, and doesn’t do away instantly with the Loved One’s often engrained habits/coping mechanisms of denial, dishonesty, etc.

      Minimizing, a form of denial if you will, is part of every active person’s MO, especially when being “evaluated” over the phone.

      It is quite hurtful to overhear, but shouldn’t be seen as an accurate account of what they know or believe. Rather, it is him doing what most in early recovery do at first… downplay.

      “How many drinks a day?”
      “Usually 1-2”
      “Really??” … (but no one ever says “really” in an evaluation).

      It’s lovely that your Loved One felt like sharing some of the details of his call with you. Still, I would suggest you be very sparing in your involvement with his recovery supports.

      His success will likely be all the more solid if he can own it. It’s helpful for our Loved Ones to feel that we, the family, are rooting for them _and_ really confident in their abilities to go it on their own. Find ways to express that you trust him with his own recovery. (Even if you’re still working that trust out. Laurie MacDougall has often said, “Fake it ’til you make it”)

      Not sure if you’ve had a chance to read Laurie’s amazing post recently about hope and expectations. I recommend it to every human!

      All the best. Please keep remembering, rachaeltwin, that you are not overreacting, and it’s not wrong to want your Loved One to be honest and able to embrace reality.

      We hope he is going to get to that point. But it is often a long ride. In the meantime, keep coming back to what centers you, comforts you, and fills you up. It will help you, and at the same time most likely create some comfortable breathing room between you two — if he feels you’re less concerned about every detail of his recovery, he can begin to take charge of it more independently and proactively.