Become a member of Allies in Recovery and we’ll teach you how to intervene, communicate and guide your loved one toward treatment.Become a member of Allies in Recovery today.

He’s Been Using for 15 Years – And I Didn’t Know It

Back Drug User

In a recent comment, Allies in Recovery member 920Sunshine!!! speaks of having been "totally blind" and unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of heroin, crack, cocaine, pot use…

"I'm trying to do the modules about when my loved one uses.

To tell you the truth I was totally blind when it came to his use, I've been told he's been using for about 15 years – EVERYTHING – I don't know the signs – he just seems normal to me (his normal); are there certain things I should be looking for?

He's told me he stopped heroin but was using cocaine (maybe that's where all the money went) and then smoking crack, pot. He's very proud that he's not drinking.

He tried suboxone (sp) -said it didn't work

then was on methadone – got his dose down to 30 – so I think he was using during this time (also two car accidents within a month – told someone else he blacked out – still waiting on court dates)

So I guess my question is – how does a person normally act when using Heroin, Crack, Cocaine?? MJ?? And how do they act when they need to use??

Any help is appreciated"

Each drug has its own persona. In the resource section we list the signs and symptoms of the high associated with each drug, and the withdrawal symptoms.

It’s not surprising that you didn’t suspect drugs for so long and could not tell that your Loved One was high. It happens because drugs aren’t in your currency, in your world. You assumed other things were going on, I am sure, but didn’t land on the idea of drugs. Now you’ll probably spend the rest of your days suspecting drugs with everyone who comes across strangely to you. Your eyes have been opened.

Your Loved One is making efforts to address his drug problem: he's not drinking, he's taken suboxone, methadone, and is now in inpatient treatment.

Why doesn't he simply make up his mind and quit?

It is hard to imagine why someone can simply not quit, why they can’t just make up their mind and stop. It’s not that easy. These drugs have changed the biology and the psychology of your Loved One.

Your Loved One is caught in a cycle that includes an uncomfortable period or withdrawal. The medication-assisted treatments (MAT) such as Suboxone and Methadone help to bypass this painful part, and that is partly why they help. Unfortunately, these treatments only address the opioids, not the other drugs that are likely to come on board. Other drugs come on board because your Loved One, like so many others, still wants to get high. A drug substitution doesn’t change the psychological hold that getting high carries for people. So they try new drugs, the coke, the pot, the alcohol, and yes, even the computer cleaning fluid. Counseling and recovery work are as important as the medication substitute for a full recovery.

If your Loved One “got his dose down to 30 [mg]” then he was doing well at the methadone clinic. A clinic typically only reduces the dosage when the client is testing clean and wants to titrate off the methadone. But keep in mind that clinics may not consider marijuana or drinking in their calculations. This could explain the car accidents.

You have come to the right place to get information and help for yourself. You have been going through hell with your Loved One. And there are children waiting on him to get well too. Please keep going through the Learning Modules – it is the framework you'll need going forward. Thank you for writing in. We appreciate hearing about your situation. Other members also benefit from our answers to your questions. 



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"...)