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Hi Allies. I feel a bit at a loss for what to do. My partner went to a 90-day rehab last year, and when he finished, he stayed on track with crystal meth IOP meetings, in person and online. He stayed sober for nine months. It was amazing. Then he had a relapse, and we set clear boundaries for what we agreed he would need to do to stay in the apartment. He started to take an antidepressant as well. Then he had another relapse, and as the relapses occurred more frequently, I stepped back and let him decide what would work best to keep himself sober.
He started a new job 90 days ago, and I thought that having a purpose & a paycheck would inspire him. Unfortunately, he kept getting very depressed and the relapses went from every 90 days to every 60 days to every 30. Now he is back home and isn’t willing to engage in rehab or meetings again, and my CRAFT skills to try to get him to answer open-ended questions are not having much success any longer. What to do when you feel like you have hit a brick wall?
Hello msmnyc1. Your situation sounds really difficult. Your home is not calm. Your Loved One is coming home only long enough to sleep it off and otherwise recover before heading back out for the next binge. The timeline you relate concerning your partner’s movement back to regular use is instructive: one relapse can, by a slow progression, lead back to regular use.
It sounds as though your partner is now caught in a more frequent cycle of use, whereas before there could be months in between. When you add up the time right before he uses (perhaps he is pacing and on the phone lining up access to the drug), the time he’s high, and the time he’s withdrawing, your partner’s use may appear almost constant to you.
But is there still some point—perhaps just a small period of time between binges—when he is awake, eating, and not using meth? It is this small but significant period that you learn to identify and distinguish from the rest of the time in which he is using.
After you contacted Allies in January 2022, you and I communicated about rewarding non-use—and also, vitally, about how to define non-use. You might want to take a look back at that post, as it illustrates the point quite well. It’s very important to be clear about what counts as use and non-use. Often the period of non-use is sandwiched between periods of use:
Can you find this point of non-use and lean in? This is when you can try being interested, encouraging, and rewarding. Can you better delineate by observing where the line is for your Loved One?
Module 8 (How Do I Get My Loved One Into Treatment?) lays out how to have a brief but formal talk with your Loved One. Again, the moment to talk with your partner is during a period of nonuse.
The good news is that your partner has been able to live drug-free for months. He is not new to recovery or to treatment. He knows what to do and what works for him. He may be embarrassed to go back to these supports, but he can overcome this feeling and step back into the drug-free lifestyle he maintained for those many months.
Perhaps you decide to set a tight boundary, asking your partner to go elsewhere and sleep it off each time he finishes binging. You’d be telling him that this place can no longer be your home. You may need to consider helping him to finance his place: if so, aim for something temporary like a motel.
You may also want to consider phasing in this change gradually, over several weeks. Perhaps in that first brief talk, you warn your partner that this is coming. You explain that you will help him find and pay for some place he can safely sleep it off.
As much as you possible can, keep the messaging positive: You can come home whenever you aren’t using. And I’ll be here hoping for your return. Perhaps you hold out the possibility that he can come home permanently when he stops.
You are on the right track with your question. You’ve been using CRAFT and supporting your partner for some time now. The message I’m sending with this reply is not to despair. These behavioral strategies are a key component of CRAFT work. When you put down a new boundary, know that there will be a reaction from your Loved One. Expect it. He’ll likely get angry or really hurt. Hold your ground, and I believe you will see your partner start bending to the boundary. You probably won’t get 100% what you’re asking for the first time, but keep it up.
Your perimeter is what you can control. Setting a firm boundary also makes clear whose responsibility it is when that boundary is crossed.
Boundaries produce change. Thank you for your writing in.