Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
My Boyfriend Is Addicted To Heroin. Should I Tell His Parents?
Ashley – not her real name – met Dean – not his real name – at a local bar where he played a gig. Ashley says it was love at first sight. After Dean finished his set, the two of them went to an after-hours club. Then Dean came back to her place. Ashley says they’ve been inseparable ever since. Ashley describes Dean as a good-looking, talented, young man who loves playing his guitar and writing music. She describes their relationship as ‘intense.’ The two moved in together after a few short months. Dean was not a morning person. He often slept until noon. At first, Ashley put his fatigue down to the late nights he worked. She says Dean had a hard time getting out of bed and when he did, he was irritable. To make matters worse, when Ashley asked him to do chores around the house, they didn’t get done. Ashley says Dean never picked up after himself. The two began to bicker. Then things started to go wrong, fast. Ashley’s favorite ring, the one her grandma had given her for her sixteenth birthday, went missing. Next was money from her purse. Ashley asked Dean if he knew anything about it. Dean blew up. He slammed out of their apartment and was gone for two days. When Dean returned he was subdued. He apologized to Ashley and begged her forgiveness. Worry continued to build in Ashley. She was suspicious of Dean and his odd behavior. She wondered if he was seeing someone else. One day, Ashley returned home from work early. She expected to find Dean in bed. Instead, she found him in the bathroom with a needle in his arm. Too stunned to speak, Ashley backed out of the bathroom and closed the door. After a few minutes, Dean sauntered out as if nothing unusual had just taken place. When she tried to talk with him about it, he was sleepy and slurring his words. When the drugs wore off, Dean came clean. He was a heroin addict and used daily. Dean said he shot up to avoid getting sick. Ashley felt sorry for Dean. She ran him a bath and fed him dinner. Looking after him was like caring for an infant. Ashley says Dean was helpless. Dean spent long periods of time locked in the bathroom. Using heroin became a full-time job. He missed worked too many times and got fired. Dean promised he would find another job. But it didn’t happen. Ashley assumed all the financial responsibility for their relationship. She paid the utilities, rent and bought the food. Dean still struggled to get out of bed in the morning and claimed to be depressed. Ashley feared he would overdose and began sleeping with one hand on his chest. She woke many times during the night to check his breathing. The stress of living with Dean was catching up to her. Ashley was exhausted. To complicate matters further, Dean’s parents were coming to visit. Dean’s parents knew nothing about his addiction. They lived in another state and didn’t see Dean often, but spoke with him once a week. They gave Dean a monthly allowance to help him get on his feet. They thought Dean was spending his money on food and rent, but what Dean was really spending their money on was dope. Ashley says Dean lied to his parents constantly. Whenever he needed money he’d phone them up and invent a new story. A few hours later, money would be transferred into his account and he’d be high again. Ashley knew if Dean was ever to have a chance at getting off heroin, his parents would need to know the truth and stop giving him money. She also knew if she told them, Dean would be furious with her and probably leave. Ashley was in a tough spot. On the one hand, Dean’s life was at stake. On the other, if she did the right thing she might lose him. She worried Dean would use her betrayal as an excuse to go even harder into his addiction. Torn, Ashley contacted me for advice. Ashley is not alone. Many family members across North America are in this predicament right now. Those who struggle with addiction also struggle with delusion, impaired thinking, dishonest thinking, impulsive behaviors and impaired judgment. But that’s not all. Addiction is a progressive illness that is terminal in nature. Meaning it gets worse, not better, over time. Waiting for someone who has lost the ability to reason, to make a rational decision can be deadly. Unintentionally, Ashley has become part of Dean’s problem. As long as she is willing to look after Dean, keep his secrets and clean up his mess, he will continue to deteriorate. I encouraged Ashley to tell Dean’s parents. They have a right to know their son is terminally ill. But all is not bleak. There is good news. Dean doesn’t have to succumb to addiction. He doesn’t need to recognize he has a problem to get help for it either. All Dean needs is for someone in his family to break the silence and reach out for help. With professional direction, recovery from heroin is possible. To get started all you have to do is call the number below. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 844-470-0410.