What if your loved one addict does not like meetings? Are there other options?

boyfriend
recovery
heroin

#1

My boyfriend has been battling opiate/heroin addiction for over 10 years. He went to rehab 18 months ago and has been clean since then with the exception of a recent slip-up (hopefully just a slip-up). I have tried to have a conversation with him about what he thinks will work to help him cope with stress because that is usually when he has the biggest urge to use. He told me he absolutely hates meetings and he does not feel they help at all. I asked if he would be open to seeing a counselor and he has done that before and felt they weren’t helpful either. Everything that is out there, he has tried and has completely written them off. We talked about trying to find a hobby or physical activity to help him as well because he has a really difficult time talking about his feelings at all. It’s one of the most frustrating and challenging parts of my relationship with him.

I understand that every addict is different and certain things might work for one that won’t work for the other. But he also can’t do nothing. What can I do to help him? Are there other options out there for him?


#2

My husband didn’t like meetings. He didn’t like sitting in a space where he felt he was dwelling in addiction thinking and he also never loved the idea of committing to full abstinence of everything.

He found a 1:1 therapist useful. Though he didn’t stick with it in the long run.

And I think the more we add joyful activities into our daily life (a comedy show for example) and he reconnects with his friends who haven’t struggle with addiction but who know his history and support him, the stronger he feels.

I still think he could use like a coach or something to help him with his day-to-day coping skills, but over time he has slowly gotten better and better (he’s now 3 years + post rehab after almost the same amount of time deeply using substances to get by).


#3

My dad doesn’t particularly like meetings either. He’ll go occasionally to get inspiration - in kind of a twisted way. He “likes” hearing some of the horror stories because it reminds him to stay on track so that he doesn’t want to go back to having his own horror stories. I encourage him to find an outlet elsewhere - hiking, walking the dog, taking himself out to lunch, etc. Like @polly said - adding joyful activities to his daily life as a form of recovery.


#4

Thanks @polly and @katie for your feedback. It’s nice to know other recovering addicts feel the same way. Because my boyfriend slipped up recently, we agreed that he would go to a meeting daily for the next 30 days but he told me today he is going to the gym with his buddy in place of a meeting. We never agreed to it, he just decided to do this on his own. I’m not sure if I should be upset or not because I don’t want to be controlling but at the same time I’m upset that he decided something like that without talking to me. My anxiety has been getting the best of me the past week since he slipped since this is his first one after 18 months sober. I don’t know where things will go from here and I hope to God we can just move forward.

Just trying my best to take things one day at a time.


#5

Hey there @Selfcare31, there are tons of options that can be helpful that don’t involve meetings! My brother (3 years in recovery from opiates) never went to meetings: he went to an individual trauma therapist and an addiction psychiatrist and that is what worked for him! He had been to rehab and meetings in the past and they didn’t really work for him, but this combo did!

Here are some common treatment options that help those struggling with substance use:

  • Outpatient Services: Both group and individual behavioral interventions and medications when appropriate. Services can be offered during the day, before or after work or school, in the evenings or on weekends. Typically, outpatient programs are considered appropriate as the initial level of care for individuals with a mild to moderate substance use disorder, or as continuing care after completing more intensive treatment. Outpatient programs are also suitable for individuals with co-occurring mental health conditions. (Months or years).
    Less Traditionally Recognized Route: For some, the road is long and gradual, not stopping use all at once, but tapering off. The biggest determinant in this kind of change is that life outside of substance use becomes more fulfilling and less stressful. These three factors help in the transition:
    1. Involvement in community
    2. Purpose
    3. Improved physical wellbeing

So, while he said he would go to meetings every day following his recent slip, I think going to the gym with a friend can be beneficial as well. He is in an environment where he will have improved physical health and is connecting with a friend and not isolating. For some, this can be more helpful than meetings. There’s no one size fits all, so some experimentation could be what’s needed!

When it comes to working individually with a counselor/therapist, finding the right fit can take some time. If possible, I’d encourage him to reach out to a handful of therapists that he feels drawn to, who have training in addiction, and see how they respond and if they feel like a good fit. Sometimes finding a therapist can be like dating, it can take a few tries to find the right person but once you do it can be a match made in heaven!


#6

Thank you so much for these tips! I am only concerned because it feels like he is adjusting my own boundaries for me. I told him he needs to go to meetings daily until I feel like I feel more comfortable around him again and then he changed it to “I’m only going to go for 30 days”. Then this morning, he decided I am going to the gym instead of a meeting. I just don’t know if it’s okay for me to go back on my word and not keep the boundary I held up when we agreed to things. Any tips on this?

I would love for him to see a therapist but he refuses. He has written it off and doesn’t want to find one at all. I don’t know how to change his mind about finding something that works for him. It seems that he feels like nothing works but I don’t know because he doesn’t talk about his feelings much.


#7

@Selfcare31 couple ideas come to me in reading your response here :slight_smile: take with a grain of salt!

I told him he needs to go to meetings

Maybe this is just the way you typed it. But I’ve personally found it much more effective to get buy in when my loved one decides the action. This can be frustrating, slow and requires more patience. Having a conversation where we are really listening to what they think will work for them right now and offering to help brainstorm but hearing their thoughts and ideas can be really helpful to getting their buy-in to the decided action.

I’ve also had many times like this where I want to create the whole plan and have him follow it because I can see clearer, but it’s really hard for me to enforce. I’ve had disappointments around making plans, setting routines, therapist or psychiatrist appointments for my loved one too.

My suggestion is to have a conversation with him about what he thinks he needs right now, ask him how you can support him. And then take some time to sit with it. Hold back knee-jerk reactions in this conversation. Remember also that sometimes returning to a conversation at another time eg. ‘hey i thought about what you suggested and I just don’t think it’s going to work…’ etc. can be the best way to progress things instead of pushing too much too early.

What do you think?
<3


#8

This is very helpful @jane. My mind is currently racing and my anxiety is high so I don’t think I can think completely rationally currently. I like this approach because I always want to approach things gently and with love and it does exactly that. When I caught him, we sat down and talked about it for a long time and tried to come to an agreement of what was needed from him to make me feel comfortable too. I told him I wanted what was best for him too so I suggested things and asked if he was okay with that or not. He agreed to almost all of it and now he’s changing his mind which is frustrating.

He has gone to two meetings so far and he told me he was reminded of how much he hates them. I don’t know if that’s why he decided to make a change on what was going to help him. It’s really hard for me to let go of making plans for him because that’s what gives me the most balance. But you’re right, it’s setting myself up for disappointment if I make plans and he does not follow through. I don’t ever want him to feel forced to go to something especially if it does not help him.

Right now, there is a lot of anger and frustration on my part and I feel like things are spinning out of control so it’s hard for me to get a grip on my emotions. I don’t know if I should just completely step back and detach until he gets back on the right track. Should I just distance myself and stop being with him? I don’t know what I should do. Please help! I feel really defeated.


#9

@Selfcare31 I can’t prescribe an antidote :slight_smile:
But my take from the outside is this recipe:

  1. First things first, look after you! Yoga, sleep, eat, friends and family. Whatever it is you need to calm your ‘fight or flight’ response. And as long as you feel safe, maybe give yourself a week to calm down before making big decisions.

  2. Keep being supportive of him (but maybe a little scaled back while you do number 1), maybe let him know you and he both likely need a week to recover and relax and calm down, and if there’s anyone else (friends / family) who can up their support to unburden you a little that might be great

  3. Re-approach the conversation about his care plan after you’ve both caught your breath and recuperated a bit - like maybe in a week, you could ask if this would be ok with him. **Again from my experience, conversations too close to a relapse tend to not come from a grounded and solid mind-state for them and for us. So giving it some time can be truly illuminating.

Also know that it totally makes sense to have this emotional reaction to his relapse. I’ve been there heaps too. As long as you and he are safe, know that time heals, and it takes longer than we think depending on how in their heads they are too.

OK last thought for now. 7 deep breaths.

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<3


#10

@jane Ok, I think I’ve calmed down a bit. I have a plan when I talk to my boyfriend tonight. He got incredibly defensive earlier because I told him I was not comfortable with him skipping a meeting and going to the gym. I’m still very upset about that and it’s a bit concerning, but we decided to talk later at home tonight. My plan is to tell him that I love him and he is right, I really don’t know what works for him or best for him because I have not experienced this. I will tell him to do what he thinks is best, BUT if I see that it is starting to affect me negatively, then we will need to reevaluate our relationship. Any advice/suggestions are welcome!


#11

@Selfcare31 I love that!
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
And you may want to say something about keeping communication lines open on the topic <3


#12

How are you doing today @Selfcare31?
<3


#14

Thanks for checking in @jane! I wrote a little bit more about our conversation last night on my other post here.

I think it went incredibly well. I was just really glad that he did not deflect or get defensive or shut down. That is usually his go-to response. We were both able to clearly communicate with each other and come to an agreement as well as figure out what we can do for each other to communicate better in the future. We both recognized that this will not be his only slip and came up with a plan together.

I am just going to trust that he is doing what is best for him and not control him. I will be focusing on myself while he tries to get back on track. I plan on seeing my counselor again, hanging out with my girlfriends, and just doing things for me to practice self care. I have a little bit more hope after that conversation so hopefully, he continues with his recovery. He seemed clear-headed, open-minded, and had a good attitude about everything so that makes me feel like he does not plan on moving backwards. I am really proud of him! Now, to work on myself more!


#15

I can totally relate. I go to meetings but my son doesn’t. I can understand in a way - for instance if I had a chronic health problem, I don’t know that I would want to go to a group and talk about it. It may seem to focus on the worst aspect of the person, in their view. There are many paths to recovery. I think of every human being as a person in recovery from something. I’m not perfect nor is my son. Healthy habits are key.


#16

This is 100% what my husband says. He wants to focus on the ‘not addiction’ instead of on the addiction <3


#17

I don’t think it is unfair for you to tell him that it is important to you that he do something. What I would like from my boyfriend is that if he is trying something other than therapy, meetings, journalling (the conventional avenues to recovery) then it should have results that he can describe to me and if there are no results perhaps the expectation should be to discuss something else to try.

If going to the gym with his buddy builds his self worth, gives him a physical outlet for feelings and cravings, allows him to connect with a supportive friend etc- and this all contributes to his recovery then, if it were me, I would be alright with that as long as he could talk about what works and why. I have issues with my boyfriend when it seems like he is just shooting down options instead of looking into or trying new ones.

I like to talk about what works and be open minded to what my boyfriend tells me. But I do take issue when I feel like he is losing focus on recovery and telling me certain activities are part of his recovery but he can’t tell connect the dots with me.

The biggest part of recovery I feel like it getting to know yourself, moods, triggers etc and you can only do that by sincere self-reflection.