What to Do When Your Partner Ultimately Chooses Drugs Over You


If you’ve ever been in this position, you know how difficult this can feel. You’ve tried giving your best to your partner but at the end of the day, after trying to navigate the incredibly difficult task of encouraging sobriety (even though it may have been at the expense of your time, happiness, and well-being), you still weren’t enough.

Sometimes our partners can and do get sober, and we beam at the role we’ve played in their recovery. Other times, they don’t. Sure, addiction is a lifelong condition, but wellness for an addict (or anyone that struggles with mental illness) is having fewer episodes (or relapses) over time that last with less intensity. What if this doesn’t happen?

The worst case possible happened in my relationship. Not only did I try hanging in there for months while my ex “attempted” to quit meth…he also cheated on me in the process. The most frustrating feeling was the dynamic that played out…Instead of seeing that someone believed in him and wanted the best for his health, he felt hostile…Even though he had come to ME confessing that he was addicted and needing help! Basically, he was unwilling to do much of the work that his healing process would have entailed. I tried being reasonable by acknowledging everyone had their own healing process, but he wasn’t taking advantage of ANY of the resources at his disposal. He was not consistent with his support groups, medication his psychiatrist prescribed him, or scheduling private therapy sessions. Our relationship just became….strained. He later admitted he regretted telling me he was addicted to meth, because in truth, he hadn’t been ready to quit. In fact, his “confession” about using occurred on a particular afternoon where he was really high.

This situation is so tragic that it’s almost comical. Regardless, because he continued using multiple times a day, I felt…completely invaluable to him, and without checking myself, I dealt with severe depression for months afterward.

Since he had cheated while under the influence and probably as a result of what we were going through in our relationship, essentially, he had decided that between me and drugs, meth was something he couldn’t live without. Not me. I was…disposable. Compared to meth.

A cynic at heart, I knew I’d never win this war against his first love (drugs). If I would have known he were using when I first got with him, I wouldn’t have moved in with him.

I get a little sad because I know of couples in which one person struggled with an addiction…yet, with the help of their partner, they got better. Sometimes I stay up nights wondering what I could have done differently. I’ve picked my actions apart and dissected them, hoping to get some insight so that this particular DEEP pain never strikes me again.

After all that’s happened, here’s some advice I’d have for those who are in my position:

1. If you don’t see your partner making significant efforts to help THEMSELVES and it’s occurring at the expense of YOUR well-being, get out as soon as you can. If it’s meant to be, you can always reconnect in the future. But pulling out of the relationship because your partner isn’t carrying their weight is only fair. You know in your heart you can only help them so much with their recovery…but if they aren’t willing to help themselves, you need to move on for YOUR sake. Don’t let curiosity or false hope let you cling on, because a depression that only gets darker awaits you on the other side.

2. Even if you made some “mistakes” on your partner’s journey to recovery, the choice to continue using drugs was up to THEM, not you. Don’t beat yourself up because of what you could have done. You aren’t a trained drug counselor, and even if you were, it would have been impossible to be “objective” in this position because your feelings were involved. Don’t beat yourself up.

3. Be proud of yourself. If you survived being with a drug addict that never quit, here are some things you can be proud of:
the fact that you never got addicted to drugs with them, the fact that you got out of this situation ALIVE, and the fact that you’re a compassionate person who likely tried their best.

The good news is that any relationship after this painful one may feel a whole lot LESS stressful, assuming that you pursue one with a more emotionally healthy individual.

10 Ways to Lift Your Partner’s Spirit Through Their Recovery

  • Suggest a local meeting– Most cities in the U.S. have meetings for recovering addicts. Encourage your partner to attend so that they can meet new people that can relate to them and feel inspired.
  • Get involved in art– Whenever you and your partner have a free afternoon, go to a local art or craft store and stock up on some items. Try allocating a spot in your house where you can just zone out and work on artistic projects together. Having a record player or music player of some sort that plays your favorite music adds on a nice touch.
  • Make your home a relaxing place– Invest in things that relax your partner…candles, scented soaps, relaxing artwork, and new pillows are good places to start.
  • Find a local slice of nature in your area and make it a routine to visit– Make an effort to get out in nature with your partner. It’s free and guaranteed to uplift and inspire the two of you.
  • Begin a workout routine together– Sometimes to kick an old habit, you have to create a new routine. Consider signing up for a gym membership so the two of you can commit to fitness and wellness together.
  • Revisit old passions and hobbies– Ask your partner what his/her passions were growing up. Maybe they had a knack for photography that became buried as their workload increased. Try to make time for old interests the two of you used to have. You never know where this can lead you!
  • Create a bucket list– This is a fun thing to do that gets your partner outside of their head and have things to look forward to in the future other than using.
  • Create a travel fund– Start planning a vacation for next year, even if it’s rather local. Meet your partner’s need for adventure and exploration by booking some tours and really going all out if you can.
  • Bring the romance backSee my article on things you can do if your flame has flickered with your recovering partner.
  • Visit a local spa– Spas aren’t always expensive and they’re almost always relaxing. Get you and your partner a package to the spa to unwind after a stressful work week.
  • The point of doing these things is to literally show your partner that you can find escape and relaxation in other ways other than using drugs.

    Addicts and Lying: Is There Such Thing As An Honest Addict?

    Consider my experience. When I first found out my ex-boyfriend was addicted to meth (something he admitted after four months of being together), I was incredibly on-edge. I wondered what else he had kept from me in that time of being together and what other dishonesty he was capable of. Because I was still madly in love with him, I made him promise me that if I stayed with him, he would at least be honest with me if he ever relapsed. As a non-drug addict, I saw this as a fair compromise at the time. But wow, did that NEVER ONCE go according to plan.

    My experience is not unique. If you’re the sober partner, despite your best attempts of trying to be the calm, receptive person you can be to your addicted partner, often times, they will STILL not confide in you. And after a while, it starts to hurt. Deeply. Why do they still not TRUST you with sharing that aspect of their lives with you after you’ve accepted it but asked for some honesty in return?

    After sharing my story with other’s who have been in my shoes, I’ve come to wonder, is there such thing as an “honest” drug addict? Or are you setting yourself up for heartbreak with the constant lying that often accompanies addiction?

    I’m currently seeking articles to publish on this topic, so if you have a story or article you’d like to share, please send to partnersofaddicts@gmail.com. Review the submissions page for more information. Your contribution is valuable!