How do I get my boyfriend to quit drugs and drinking?

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on June 18th, 2008 - Last updated: October 2nd, 2023
This content was written in accordance with our Editorial Guidelines.


Dear Stanton:

I am a 26 year old female involved in a 1 year old relationship with a 31 year old man. I love him very much. He is a self admitted alcoholic. I tell him often I wish he would slow down his drinking and he wishes he could to. He has been to AA meetings in the past and felt they didn’t help. He often says he needs my help to quit drinking. My problem or Question after everything I have done or do to help try to control his drinking is this: Is there anything I can do? I know that I can’t get him to quit for me that he has to do it for himself. He will not go to meetings. Deep down he really does want to quit but I feel He is scared and he feels its too late. I feel he just doesn’t know where to begin. Can you give me some advice to help him begin?


Dear Carol:

I am responding by enclosing another case like yours to give you some perspective.


I am writing because I don’t really know where to turn any more and I’m having a great deal of difficulty dealing with my situation.

My fiancee and I have been together for over two years. He is a heavy pot smoker who works with a group of guys who are also heavy pot smokers. He introduced me to pot when we met and I did get into the habit of smoking one joint a day with him at bedtime (although he smokes all day long). The first year we were together he didn’t smoke all that much, but since we’ve moved to his hometown, with his old friends – it’s out of control – he is getting high on drugs all of the time. He’s 31 and I’m 24.

The reason this is really upsetting me now is that I am 6 1/2 months pregnant. I’ve made all the changes and sacrifices necessary to make sure this child is born healthy in a nurturing environment. He promised to quit smoking pot and drinking alcohol, etc. endless times. And I kept threatening to leave if he didn’t control it. He refuses to get help – says he doesn’t need it. And I just don’t know what to do. I am very much in love with him and want very much to give this child a family. The disgust and disappointment increases every day and I am at my wits end. I can’t force him to stop – I don’t want to force him to stop. It should be his own decision and desire – yet it hurts me that he hasn’t done it yet, he says he wants to stop, but if did, he would have already. And just like I can’t force him to stop, he can’t force me to accept it.

I am about to fly back (after a year and a half being here) to my home and take care of myself and my child. I know that it’s what I need to do, yet I’m scared. He recently began using cocaine again as well and the lies and excuses are amazing. If he really wanted this family and really loved me the way he says he does, why would he let the drugs do this to us? Please help me understand.


Let’s shift the question entirely to what would make you happy.

After all, your boyfriend’s not writing me about his problem. You’re writing me about yours.

Would refusing to see your boyfriend if he is drunk/will be drinking improve your life? Then make that happen.

The point is that, after all this discussion, you have to look after yourself and what is the best way for you to proceed.

Don’t be bitter or vicious toward him. Just tell him what you need to do to guarantee your own happiness.

If you are thinking you want to be married, or settle down, then you should date other men. You can tell your friend that you would be happy with him, but not with a drunken him. And you are seeking someone else as long as that is the him you would get.

Now AA is not the only way to go, as you can see if you read around my site (look at the FAQs). Plenty of people find AA uncomfortable. But there are other ways to go, and he has to find one that works for him. You can encourage as a friend, while proceeding with what you need.

If you need support for yourself to do what is best for you, then you should seek that support. The problem, the need for strength, the choices are yours.

In fact, this will probably be the best for him also.


Have you been affected by the issues described in this story?

If you are in a relationship where alcohol is affecting you and your partners relationship, you may want to enroll in my Life Process Program, which has been specifically adapted for internet use.

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.


  • Nakaayi Peninah says:

    We had broken up with him but on my return to him i realized he started taking drugs like miraj he said he does smoking too he drinks alot but when a talked to him he says he will let go of drugs but unfortunately on his way home he came back with another packet of miraj am really tensed I don’t know any other way to stop him yet he is the love of my life I don’t think I should let him go because of that and still he says when I left him its when he started taking drugs its 6 months since we had broke up am still schooling i rarely go to his place so I don’t think he will be able to let go because i won’t be there with him it hurts me alot worst of all he’s age worries me he is 20and am 18 please help me out

  • choice Omorogbe says:

    I love my boyfriend and I want to change him not leave him but he’s a drug addict I dunno what to do now.. Please help me

  • minni says:

    I really want to make him a better person and I wish he leave it.. But I can’t see him always that’s what my fear is?! What if he really takes the drug and lie to me.. I am not sure..

  • minni says:

    My boy friend was having drugs for 10 days when I left him but I came back now into his life again. And I am trying to help him quit it. And he is also trying to leave his drug but sometimes he fall weak. He want to take that again. Ours is a long distance relationship. And I don’t know if he lie to me and still take it. Its killing me inside.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *