What does it mean to be codependent with a drug addict?

Readers Question Readers Question: (Name changed for privacy)
Stanton Peele Response by: Dr. Stanton Peele
Posted on August 7th, 2008 - Last updated: November 21st, 2023
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I have been seeing a great guy who I knew had smoked crack in the past. He had been clean for over a year, had a good job and was saving money. The past two weeks he has disappeared twice without a trace and was found in a hotel smoking crack, sometimes for days at a time. He has sold everything he owns, and then called me for money. I put him up in the hotel for one night telling him he had to go to rehab the next day or I did not want to hear from him again. He did make it to rehab, and he has been there for four nights so far. He has been to rehabs about 2 or 3 times in the past, but has never stayed. What are the chances he is going to come out of this and be able to live a straight life? He says he is ready this time and if he did not do this, he was going to end up dead. Should I trust him or turn my back on him? He needs me now then more then ever, his parents (whom he lived with) have basically turned their backs on him. Not to mention they have given him hundreds of dollars when they knew he was on a binge. He says he really loves me and I do love him. I just want him to be okay… Any suggestions??

Ready to scream

Dear Ready:

Tell him you can’t take the pain if he is going to do this, and that you will wait a sizable period of time (twice as long as his last straight period) until after he is out of treatment to let him demonstrate that he will do what he promises. Tell him you love him and will do everything you can to be there for him when he straightens out (which is more than he did for you, don’t you think?), but that you need to protect yourself. Otherwise, drop him and find a guy who is not a drug addict.

Tell me, leaving aside his drug habit, would you give your money to a guy you were dating who has been financially unreliable in the past? Can you imagine going through this with children? That would make you as unreliable a mother as he would be a drug addicted father. Imagine how you would answer children if they asked, “Why did our father take drugs instead of staying with us?” Then they could ask you, “When you knew he was a drug addict, why did you marry him and have children with him?” As difficult as answering the question about him would be, tell me what your answer about yourself would be.

By the way, how old is he? While you are waiting for him to straighten his life out, date a guy who doesn’t live with his parents.


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.

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