My husband won't stop doing Ecstasy

I finally had to leave the house because I just can't stand it anymore.

Published September 23, 2005 7:40PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I've been married for about five years to the same man I have been with since I was 15. He is my soul mate and lights up my world. He also drives me completely insane. Two years ago my husband had a great job working with computers and really seemed to enjoy it -- for a while. He studied to get his certifications and worked hard to get where he was. Then the company he was working for laid off tons of people, including him. He was given a nice severance package, which we ate through in no time. A few months later I lost my job and my parents graciously offered us a place to live while we got back on our feet. It took me five months to find a job, but he never really tried. He was perfectly happy to sit around all day, collecting unemployment, while I was our primary source of income. And I don't make that much.

What did he do all day? He read tons of books on spirituality, meditated, looked inside, picked us apart, saw horrible things, saw beautiful things.

But here's the real problem: Drugs. Ecstasy, to be specific. He started taking it about three years ago. In the past six months he has been doing it close to once a week. For six months prior to that it had been every two weeks. Prior to that maybe once a month. I don't take it with him, although I have done it twice in my life. It's nice and brings me a real sense of being close to everything in the universe. However, I can feel that way without the use of something that I believe has altered his capability to exist in the "real world." Whatever that means! So we argue all of the time about how I want him to stop, how he doesn't think it's a problem, and so on. Recently, though, I have become so tired of everything that I can't stand this anymore.

Three days ago he decided to do Ecstasy again. He wanted to go out in the forest -- his usual place to go. I begged, pleaded, argued, cried, threw a fit. Anything, I decided, so that he could see how desperate I am for him to stop. He still chose to do it, though, so I realized I had a decision to make. I didn't go with him. Usually I would, but I hated the idea of supporting him in this decision. So he went on his own and I finally broke down completely. Up until then I hadn't talked to anyone about it. I felt so ashamed of everything. I knew I didn't want to be home when he returned, so I reached out for help. I called a friend and asked her if I could stay with her for the night. I wrote my husband a note telling him the two major things I needed for him to change. I asked him to stop taking Ecstasy and to start looking for a better job. I let him know where I was because I wanted him to call so I would know he was alive. Because that was my biggest fear. That one day he would die while doing drugs. Now, though, my biggest fear has changed. I am now terrified that he will choose a drug over me. I think I would be stupid to think that he will not push the limits I set forth one more time. Maybe more. Maybe he doesn't love me enough. I can go on and on.

Of course he called, said he loved me and I went home. The next day was great, but last night sucked and we were back in the usual routine of him picking me apart like this is all my fault!

I really need to know what I should do. I don't want to leave him, but I also don't want to continue living like this. I think that if he chooses to do it again I will move in with friends for awhile. Is that too dramatic? Is it not enough?

Not in Ecstasy

Dear Not in Ecstasy,

What you are going to have to do is accept the fact that your husband is an addict. Try saying that out loud, please: My husband is an addict. My husband is addicted to the drug Ecstasy.

How does that feel? Does that feel better, just to lay it out like that? Or does it feel scary, like, Oh my God this is where my whole life changes.

I'm guessing it's a little of both. There's relief in facing the truth. But there's trepidation in facing what you've got to do next.

What you've got to do next is change your life. Oh, you don't have to change everything. You can still wear the same clothes. But you have to change the way you live in regard to your husband.

Luckily, and this is the part I like, you don't have to figure it out on your own. Millions of us are addicts. I'm an addict. Addicts can change. Millions of others are in love with addicts, or the parents or siblings or wives of addicts. You're in that category. You can change too.

So I suggest that you now begin your study of addiction and how it affects relationships. Begin learning what your choices are. There are places to learn these things. There are groups. There are books. There are therapists and psychologists who have studied the phenomenon.

Information is not the problem, nor are contacts, nor are treatment modalities.

The problem is that nobody can reach inside his head and fix him. Not even you. All an addict has to do is get to the point where he really, really, really wants to change. But that sometimes takes a long time. Sometimes it never happens.

The way you live your life in the meantime is this: You live with the reality that your husband is an addict, one day at a time, through good days and bad. And you face from time to time the inevitable question, Do I leave him?

There are people who can help you with that, too. Find them.

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