Are you criticizing me for constantly hooking up with addicts?

Dear Stanton,

My husband is addicted to pornography. He is unable to stop looking at porn even though a year ago, he came to the realization that his problem was out of control. He did go for counselling and it did seem to help for a time.

I also went through extensive counselling and through a family workshop about living with addiction (as he is the 4th addict I have been with – although the “drug” of choice was different in each case, I needed to understand why I continue to “choose” addicts in my life).

The bad news is that although he was able to abstain for many months, he has gone back to it, and is now at a point where he doesn’t believe it is truly an addiction and that he can “stop at any time” and can “keep it in moderation.”

All the knowledge I have gleaned over the last year tells me otherwise. I know that the likelihood is that his obsession will escalate before it gets any better.

He is prepared to return to counselling. The problem I have is this: If I choose to stay with him, am I in all reality choosing to accept pornography in my life?

I have tried not to define him by his addiction and understand that he is fallible and not perfect (who is?) and I have learned alot about co-dependency. I stopped checking up on him, I stopped obsessing about what he was or wasn’t doing, and I devoted my energies to my own mental health.

Although that worked remarkably for my own recovery, the question I still have is, Where do I go from here? I know this is his problem, but is there something differently I can be doing for my own emotional well-being. I feel I have come a long way on my own issues and do not want to start obsessing about his, but let’s face it, our lives are intertwined.

You seem to have a different take on things than most psychologists,etc. so any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Colleen:

I start with the question, “How does a sane sensible person end up with four addicted individuals?” I can only “do therapy” with the person who contacts me, not someone they know. So why don’t you answer that question for me, and what you are going to do about it?


In answer to your question – From all the work I’ve done – counselling, reading, group work, what I discovered is that essentially, I have gravitated my whole adult life to what is “familiar” . . . i.e. I lived with addiction as a child and became a caregiver, trying to hold the family together, etc. and had carried that on in my adult life. So, through all the work I have done to date, I have figured out the why’s . . . it seems like I am always trying to “save” someone or help them be the best person they can be, etc.

I do believe I am a sane and sensible person, but I happen to have gone through a lot as a child that made me who I am today. I am a successful, loving, caring individual who has “done” alot with my own issues. I am not saying I am perfect (who is?) but I am saying that I have done the work I need to do to become a stronger person emotionally and mentally.

One other important thing I have learned is to let go and not be responsible for my husband’s recovery. He is the only one who can help himself. But there is still the issue of boundaries and what is acceptable to me. Personally, I don’t understand not being able to “stop” oneself from looking at porn, but I am not an addict, so maybe I will never understand. I have learned to let go of the why’s.

I understand that you can’t do counselling for my husband; however, I did notice on your website that you did answer questions of the individuals posing the questions (and they were not necessarily questions about themselves).

When you ask “What am I going to do about it?”, I think I have done alot about it and will continue to explore my inner self and grow as a person. I guess I am a little offended by your question in some ways, as I believe there are a lot of “sane sensible” people who consciously or sub-consciously “choose” addicts due to their own upbringing, life experiences, etc. Maybe you don’t agree.

It seems that you are a very direct person though, so I will take what you said as that.

Thank you



I didn’t express myself clearly. You write like a sane and sensible person, and I acccept you as such. I only express my surprise that someone who thinks as well as you has had such a series of negative outcomes. It offends me that the world should work like this, and I strive to bring things into balance, at least in my own mind.

When did you first become introduced to the concepts of “caregiver” et al., these kind of codependency and co-addict ideas? What I am asking you is, have these ideas helped you make better choices? I find it hard to understand how one can select for her mate four straight addicts. What is your understanding of the percentage of the male population who are addicted? To understand this is something major, and I hope it would help you to think through whether you want to be married to another addict, or whether he is addicted, et al.

As to my ability to advise you with how to handle your current mate, I fear that I can add little to the amount of counseling and groups you have had on being with addicts. But I should say that I think about the issue involved in an entirely different way from the way I suspect you have been taught. I think about how you spend your time and with whom, how you live your life and present yourself to others, what you experience your life to be and the choices you believe you have, et al.

Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele , recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts by The Fix, 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.

Leave a Reply

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