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It May Be Time to Cut Her Off

broken glass

PThasnohead may have gotten to the end of his rope. He has done so much to support and encourage his partner but she is recklessly using, trashing his apartment, racking up tickets with his car… And among other things, he's on the verge of being evicted because of her. He is coming to the understanding that letting her stay may simply be enabling her use and preventing her from experiencing natural consequences.

© jilbert ebrahimi via unsplash

"I think I’m at the end of my rope and out of patience to properly communicate. I feel like it’s time to kick her out and cut her off. I just want to do it in a way and communicate it in a way that still shows her love and with a path where if she was truly dedicated to her recovery, I could reengage and help.

In the past 8 months or so she has been going to treatment sporadically. She has been taking methadone but stuck at a lower dosage because she isn’t showing up consistently enough or doing the other things needed.

She has continued using basically the same amount of heroin and meth while in the program but is claiming she is doing better because she says she is using less. At no point has she gone without using at all.

Her pattern of behavior has generally only worsened. She stays up till 5am using, then is unable to wake up to walk the 5 blocks to the treatment facility. She continues to spend all of her time at her drug dealers to do what she needs to get her fix for the day. Which I am pretty confident one of them is now prostituting her out. She continues disappearing for days on end with no text or phone calls. She will steal my car while I’m sleeping and drive her drug dealers around in it to earn her fix. And she has gotten thousands of dollars in parking tickets from this, I had no idea about until my paychecks started getting garnished.

She has trashed my apartment and financially put so much strain on me I’m on the verge of being evicted. I’m not doing well at work. No matter how I try to guard myself from this affecting me from my own doctors, addiction counselor, groups, reading, relying on friends and family, I feel like I’m at a breaking point emotionally/physically and financially.

I am unable to talk to her about any of her behaviors, no matter how I try to discuss it using tools I’ve learned from here and SMART recovery for friends and family. Read full comment here.

My goodness, so much love comes through in your retelling of the situation. You have been on the site for months and have tried hard to communicate better and to generally maintain your boundaries with your partner.  You have not failed your partner. You have given her the most solid direction and support that you could.

Your partner is doing a few things to address her drug use but it is not enough for either of you. At some point you have to decide you tried your best, using the best strategies that science and psychology have to offer. The rest is up to her.

I hope you realize you are a rare bird. Many people would have walked a long time ago.

As for your partner, she wants praise for the efforts she is making. Yes, methadone is the minimum she could be engaging with but instead she misses her daily dose and uses opioids to fend off the withdrawals from the methadone. The methadone clinic allows this. I don’t understand this. Why the clinic doesn’t flag positive urines and increase her dose to reduce the daily triggers…is a question none of us can answer. She may not be telling you the whole truth.

You love your partner, and it’s time to ask her to leave. She has places to stay. She already stays away for days.

It is time to acknowledge that your home is reinforcing her continued drug use.

So yes, as you've said…

I want to give her a note that says I love her, believe in her and am not giving up on her. With some other things along those lines but letting her know her current oath isn’t going to work, if she stops using entirely and prove she is working on it she can come back, then give her the phone numbers and places of different things she can look at.”

Perhaps you can say something like this…

“I love you, you know that. You are a wonderful person. I need to ask you to leave my home though. I have come to the decision that staying with me isn’t helping either of us. Your life is still being driven by drugs; my life is being hurt by your drug use.

My job is suffering. My feelings are hurt all the time.

Here is the list of places you can get more help. We’ve talked about them, I just want to make sure you have the list on paper. 

So please gather your things and I will help take them to where you are going to be staying.

I am so sad about this. I am not walking out of your life. I care deeply about you and want you to heal. I cannot care more for you than you care for yourself. It is too painful for me.”

Your partner will likely push back hard on losing you and your home. You cannot keep her safe and you cannot protect her. CRAFT talks about removing rewards. Your home is a reward. As you say, she can come back when she is more committed to her recovery.

We talk a lot about putting a cot and footlocker in a common area as a way of stepping back from providing complete home privileges. It feels temporary; it signals the conditions under which you as the family member are willing to reward your Loved One with a place to stay. Perhaps you consider this as the strategy for when she is ready to better address her addiction. Right now though she is stealing the car, driving under the influence, and wrecking your apartment.

You have shown such compassion and love for your partner. It has touched our collective souls here at Allies.

Thank you for loving someone with addiction and for putting such effort in helping her sort herself out.



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. PThasnohead it’s so encouraging to hear you have found AiR so helpful! Good for you and for your loved one, keep using the support and guidance you find helpful.
    I love the Learning Modules helping families build skills, adding more tools and awareness to the box. Whether from an ‘expert’ or from a ‘person with lived experience’, being told what we need to do rarely seems useful. We benefit much more from learning about strategies proven to work, and hearing “whatever you decide will be the right thing for you; whether I or anybody else agrees with it, or not.” That’s the kind of support that validates our experience; and helps us grow and feel more strength and more peace.

  2. thanks for the kind words, brought me to tears. This website, your help, the podcasts and everyone sharing their situations has been immensely helpful through everything.

    I let her know that I loved her, what I find special about her, that I wasn’t giving up on her or leaving her and that I am always going to try to protect her, even if that makes her angry and pits her against me.

    I let her know she can come back anytime if I am home and she has no drugs with her, but in the meantime because she continues to choose a path that is causing her great harm and causing me a lot of hurt, she can’t stay there. But I am waiting, ready to move heaven and earth to help when she is ready with multiple other treatment options and places that can help her.

    I also have turned all her dealers into the police and am actively working with them. I debated doing that a long time because I didn’t want to make her life more difficult and I didn’t want to risk her getting arrested as well. However, I just think it’s the right thing to do, if I know these people are out causing harm, to do something about it.

    Even though it was hard to do, and she keeps asking me “how is this supposed to help me”, I have a clarity that I am doing the right thing for her and for me. Thank you again.

    The methadone I feel like is a smokescreen for her to keep her lifestyle, not a serious attempt at sobriety. Because it is just an Opiate agonist and doesn’t block, it leaves the door open to keep using. That combined with her drug dealers always being there to give her more stuff, she just wont succeed.

    I am hopeful, with continuing with the CRAFT method, staying connected with her, being positive while holding and showing her as much love as I can, she will get to the point where she is ready for more serious treatment options.

    1. What a wonderful tribute to the love you have for your daughter. She is lucky to have such a hard working parent who is willing to dig in and learn all she can about addiction and treatment. As you go along your journey, learning as you go, you might want to take a long look at the discussion around medication assisted treatment. There is so much out there and I hear very good things about it for many people. This website has ton of reading material on the topic including this under the resources tab.

    2. We’re here for you, and commend you for taking the steps you’ve taken. We know much of the CRAFT method can seem or even feel counter-intuitive sometimes. Do keep coming to the site and supporting yourself through this transition to having her live elsewhere. Thanks so much for keeping us posted. All our best.