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‘Help, My Girlfriend Is An Addict—What Do I Do?’

Nothing sucks more than seeing someone you love spiral down, further away from you
by Dr. FHM | Nov 9, 2018
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Ask FHM is a corner of the internet where we fan the flames of your burning questions. Here, we dish out some tough love and an honest take on whatever potentially life-changing situation you find yourself in (while silently thanking God we aren’t you right now). Ask us anything. Except for money, and if open-minded ba kami.

Dear FHM,

I’ve been with my girlfriend for three years. I even thought she was The One. But in the past year or so, her “social” drug use seems to be becoming less and less recreational; I’ve caught her drunk and high when she definitely shouldn’t have been. She’s always been a bit rebellious and I always found that hot, but I guess I’m too chicken to be with someone who says cocaine ‘isn’t that bad.’ Her family is giving up on her and she’s talking about moving in with me. Her behavior is starting to scare me. How do I handle this?”

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Even before tokhang became a byword (and somewhat of a crude punchline), drug use has been a rampant problem. Addiction spares no one. You see it in street kids sniffing rugby, too hungry to care that it’s wrecking their bodies. You see it in rich kids snorting coke, too hungry for some sort of high to stave off whatever dysfunction or existential crisis their privilege cursed them with. In many cases, you might not see it at all—one day you’ll just be surprised to find out someone you thought you knew is in rehab, lost everything in a casino, or dead from an overdose.

That’s some serious shit. We’re not messing around. So what do you do?

Absolutely nothing. Hear us out.

Addiction is an illness—some even say it’s a literal disease. It lays waste to people the way cancer does or takes them swiftly without you even knowing, like a bad hit-and-run accident. Experts are still arguing what causes it—that whole nature versus nurture thing—but everyone agrees you need professional help and a lifetime of staying clean just to make up for the damage addiction caused.

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It’s thousands, maybe even millions spent in hospital bills and rehabs. It’s years of making up for every lie and misdeed. It’s every ounce of willpower to avoid temptation. It’s the false hope of a fresh start only to backslide again. It’s ruined relationships and fake friends. It’s ugly and frightening and as real as anything gets.

And you think you can fix that?

We’re not being derisive, or mean—we feel for you, brother. Nothing sucks more than seeing someone you love spiral down, further away from you. But you have to realize one thing, and get it straight:

Addiction is many things, but here’s one it isn’t: Your battle to fight or your story to tell. Of course, family and friends are caught in the line of fire. Your proximity makes you collateral damage, and that’s not fair at all. But that doesn’t make this about you.  

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Because unless your girlfriend admits she has a problem and realizes she needs to get her shit together to actually save her life (and not just your relationship), you can’t do anything. In fact, wading into the fray without knowing how to handle this properly could make the situation worse, thus pushing her to use even more. She could resist your best, most well-intentioned efforts and create even bigger problems. You could beg and cajole, threaten and fight, all in the name of love, but you have to understand: You might have more success emptying a lake with a spoon.

Before you know it, you’re chained together in this hellhole. You have to get out—not because you’re cruel, but because it what needs to happen. Sticking around isn’t doing either of you kindness, and you might end up enabling her because you love her so much, or you’re too scared to be the “bad guy.” Where does that leave you both? It’s a bad drama movie on the perils of co-dependency waiting to be optioned by Star Cinema, for when Bea Alonzo starts taking on “edgier” roles. If you’re lucky, Coco Martin can play you.

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Here’s what to expect should you choose to stick it out: Pushback, lots of it. Selfishness, even more of it. She’s literally sick in the head. You won’t win by trying to control her or forcing her to admit she needs help. That’s a realization that needs to dawn on her without your assistance or orchestration; by definition “rock-bottom” doesn’t typically include a well-meaning boyfriend waiting in the wings.

One more time for the people at the back: Only she can fix herself, and she has to choose to do so of her own volition. And if you’re still around, you need to set boundaries—let her know what you can and can’t tolerate. Be available as suggested by her recovery program—often rehabs invite loved ones to speak at counseling sessions when warranted. But don’t think you and your relationship will be enough for her to get her head back on straight.

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Accept your relationship won’t be the same if you will still have one at all. Once she starts rehab and recovery, she will be building herself and her life back up from zero, and you have to realize and accept there might not be a place for you in her 2.0.

The best you can do is show your support from a distance, not because you’re expecting there to be a payoff for you at the end of it all, but because you’re a decent freaking person who wants to witness another human being prevail over something so insidiously life-ruining. Keep details of her addiction and recovery private, out of respect. Work on yourself—it isn’t easy loving an addict, and you may need some psychological debriefing yourself.

Say it with us (Bisaya accent optional)—My God, we hate drugs.

Illustration Borg Sinaban

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