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Do most heroin addicts almost always relapse?(62 Posts)
The back story is that I was with this guy for about 4 years. I did really love him but he had a heroin addiction when he was 18, was clean for 10 years and then suddenly relapsed. After about 6 months of wondering what the hell was going on with him, I decided I had to leave him because there was nothing I could do.
This was 3 years ago, now. Suddenly, he has got back in contact saying he's clean and he really misses me and wants us to give it another try. He has apparently got clean by going to live with his mum and dad again for a while. I always knew that the first sign of him being clean would be that he would want to see me again because we were really in love before he relapsed. I think he has unresolved pain issues from his past though (he witnessed a good friend committing suicide )
In the 3 years since this happened I have dated other people and haven't found anyone whose company I enjoyed as much as him. When I met him, he was very together and he was also lovely with all my children. The problem, of course is that I feel that there is likely to be a high chance that he will relapse again in the future.
Would I be mad to give him another chance?
From these stats, which appear to be latest, it would appear that treatment of adult heroin users has a 30% chance of success from which it would seem that more than two thirds of adult users either don't get clean during treament or relapse within a short time of it ending: www.gov.uk/government/news/adult-heroin-user-recovery-remains-a-challenge-in-england
What proof do you have that he was clean for 10 years, what caused him to relapse, and how long has he been clean this time round?
If you intend to take up with this man again I would suggest you resign yourself to having to leave him again, and also give consideration to what effect an on-off relationship with him will have on your dc.
To heck with his addiction. The one you need to worry about is yours.
Go and get some counselling for yourself. Examine why you want a man who is such a train wreck. Examine why you want to throw yourself under the bus. (Apologies for fast moving vehicle metaphors here).
In short, please examine why you are a co-dependent and how you can break out of the pattern you find yourself in and enjoy a happy life with someone who will bring you happiness, how you can feel you deserve happiness, and how you can recognise a far better man when he comes along. You are missing the good guys here, chasing this dragon.
If you can find a chapter of Co-Dependents Anonymous, go. If not, then Al Anon or Narc Anon might be available.
We can't tell you if he will relapse again but we can tell you that relapses are part of the process of recovery. His addiction, wether he's in recovery or not, is a part of him and you need to accept that. Do you really want to voluntarily put yourself back into a situation from which you fled, I'm sure his last relapse wasn't pleasant but waiting for a potential relapse isn't going to be much fun either.
He's an Ex for a reason and you did well by ending the relationship but now it's time invest in your future by not focussing on the past.
We can't know for certain.
Having said that, I have some experience in this area both personally and in a professional capacity and heroin is one of the most likely drug for addicts to relapse on. Even many many years later.
I also agree there are co-dependancy possibilities here and the priority should be the children involved.
Why gamble your children's stability and happiness?
I'd be very very careful about letting him into your children's lives again.
I'm an ex addict, so know that it is absolutely possible, BUT, it's not easy and the chances of him relapsing again are very high.
My DB was addicted to herion throughout his 20s. It was a horrible time for the family but he has been clean for about 17 years now no set backs. I would find out the length of time he's been clean for and the support he has in place before starting a relationship with him. People can be extremely judgemental of ex herion addicts or alcoholics but only you know how you feel. My advice if you decide to rekindle things is take things slow.
Thanks for your replies. When he's well, he's a great person to be around. I don't really agree that I'm codependent - I don't have any desire to fix him nor do I think I would be able to. He's still a person who has good qualities aside from the addiction.
I do think that on balance it will be too much of a risk though. Well obviously I don't know for sure that he was clean for 10 years but as far as I could see he looked well, held down a good job, was in control of his life and always had money etc. I don't know what caused the relapse. I know that he will always be an addict. His parents have been devastated because I think they've paid for him to go into rehab twice now...
I don't think all addicts can be labelled, once a junkie, always a junkie. However, you are right to be wary especially when your dc are involved.
Can you or he answer yes to the following;
Has he been clean for over a year?
Does he have a support network to turn to? A sponsor or local NA group?
Has he made significant changes to his life? This would include holding down a job and importantly cutting off from his drug using friends and that whole scene?
Has he got plans for the future?
Think carefully about how you feel about him. Don't fall in love with the romantic idea that he's a tortured soul.
Also, if he's been injecting, he should get tested for hepatitis and aids.
If you are sure you want to make contact, I would suggest not involving your children until a much later stage.
Thanks. I don't see him as someone who needs to be rescued. He is the only one who can stay clean. The last time around I learned a lot about addiction and tbh I hadn't been aware of just how difficult it seems to be for addicts to stay off heroin. so I am very wary.
Btw I don't know the answers to those questions yet but I can see it's important to find out. I haven't been in contact with him at all in the time since I ended it last time.
You sound very level headed and informed which is great. Just be prepared to walk away if there's any hint of a relapse and make sure he knows that too. I wish you all the best.
My husband was a herion addict for many years, he put himself into a rehab for a year to get clean, that was 13 years ago, he now has a 6 figure job, we live in a beautiful big house, with a toddler and another baby on the way
I met him 6 years ago, I know the risks involved with relapsing yes it could happen but I don't think it will, he is happy and speaks about never wanting to return to what was a very dark period in his in his life
I think he was worth taking a chance on because he is a lovely person. I think if he is the guy for you then go for it, no you can never be sure 100% he won't releapse but there is a risk envolved in everything in life you just need to decide if he is worth taking a chance on
He has already lost you once, so he knows you won't tolerate his addictions if they raise there ugly heads , so maybe you will be enough to help him stay on the right path
I think everyone deserves a 2nd chance
Sometimes the cause is no more than the result of the change to brain chemistry flaring up. That's why it's so hard to prevent with certain substances.
Hmmm, yes Bacon I can see that it's very hard to predict. Salene - I'm glad your DH has turned things around. I guess it can be done. I think it would be awful for my dds if I ended up having to get out again - it was hard to explain to them the last time.
Would not put yourselves through it again and I would stay well clear. He is still not your project to rescue and or save from himself and I note you have stated that you are not a rescuer. You were well out of your depth last time and I think you still are.
My guess is that living with mum and dad has got him clean, well for now anyway. You do not really know and there are far too many variables.
Have his parents simply continued to enable him though?. The only person who can actually decide to make proper change is the addict. His parents paying for his rehab twice was them enabling him and that was always going to end in failure.
Attila seriously, paying for rehab is enablement?
Surely if the addict has already made progress in getting their addiction under control and wants to go to hell and back to get clean in rehab then paying for it is just handing them the tools to get themselves clean.
Or must all addicts either go cold turkey or go via a drug treatment agency which in our area = 3 month wait, no choice other than 60ml minimum dose addiction to methadone and loss of control over recovery (v little say in recovery path / doseage) and just waiting for the mistake that leaves the addict without methadone (script filled out wrong, nothing arranged on discharge / admission to hospital, etc, nothing in place if things go wrong, etc), not to mention most research agrees it's more addictive than and harder to get of than Heroin.
Attila do you mean that throwing money at a problem in the hope that it'll be fixed isn't of any long-term use if the addict's heart and soul hasn't bought into it too? If so then I agree with you.
As a recovering alcoholic I confess that the overriding advice (sometimes) to steer clear of addicts is a bit upsetting .... as though I shouldn't inflict myself on anyone for the rest of my life and am therefore condemned to a life on my own, just in case I relapse. OP, you must trust your instincts and find out what steps your ex has in place to deal with any temptation. I know of several heroin addicts who come to AA meetings who have left their old life far behind them - it is possible and in some ways "simpler" than avoiding alcohol, which is available at many social occasions.
It's also possible to drift into alcoholism at any age - someone from the rooms was drunk for the first time in her early fifties, when her mother died, and swiftly descended into a horrible state - but has now been sober for nearly 20 years.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
"Attila do you mean that throwing money at a problem in the hope that it'll be fixed isn't of any long-term use if the addict's heart and soul hasn't bought into it too?"
Yes that is what I meant.
Also in the case of the man OP writes of, his parents paid for him to go into rehab.
Nothing wrong with parents paying for his rehab, government funded rehabs are few and far between and private ones costs thousands. I'm sure his parents were delighted to help him, I know I would if it was my son. But the important thing is he wanted to go there, you cannot force a addict to stop, they have to be at rock bottom and want to stop themselves otherwise it would be money down the drain. So we can only assume this guy wanted help and needed help and thankfully his parents came to his rescue, and fingers crossed he will never look back
I for one wish him all the best for his future be that with the OP or on his own
Addictions are cruel soul destroying burdens to carry and anyone who drags themselves out of it deserves a huge pat on the back and nothing but positive encouragement.
I agree with what you say Salene. His parents offered years ago at the time I left the relationship and he wouldn't go. He obviously did want to get better this time but for myself being in a relationship with an addict is the worst thing ever. There may as well be bullet proof glass between you.
OP I think there's lots to think about for you. Especially how honest is he about what's happened and how would you handle a relapse and how would your kids handle it? Tbh in your shoes i'd probably run a mile and that's from someone who...
Believes that paying for a much wanted re-hab is not enablement.
Does not necessarily believe that all addicts have to hit rock bottom every time - what's wrong with saying "Fuck, I've messed up, relapsed and am physically addicted I don't want to go down this road I want to get clean". Why shouldn't an addict be able to ask for help (rehab / other appropriate treatment) and support (not enablement, but maybe a listening ear, somewhere to stay and someone to say it's not the end of the world and it's good they're taking steps to fix it). Why should they have to wait until they've lost everything first?
You sound very aware and non co dependent. If you didn't have children and the risk of them getting attached to him I'd say go for it.
Does he attend NA? Is he sober too? That would be non negotiable for me.
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