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13 Apr 2006

Alchohol & chems
I'm seriously worried that my partner may have a problem with drugs and alcohol. My question is I supoose at what point do this become a problem? Like whn do drugs stop being simply a part of our lives and when do they become a problem? When do you start becoming an alcohioic or an addict? We can't even have sex anymore without him being on chems and I sometimes wonder whether the chems are more important to him than me? The problem I suppose (for me) is that I seriously love him but I worry that we're getting in way over our heads and sometimes it feels like we're drowning.
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Gay, lesbian and bisexual expert
gay, lesbian and bisexual expert

01 Jan 0001

Hi Worried, welcome to our forum and thanks for posting. You're clearly very concerned about your partner and your relationship and you may need professional help yourself.

Most of us use some form of mind-altering substance in our daily lives - we drink alcohol and coffee or need a fix of chocolate, for example, and many gay men don't even think of poppers as being a drug. In terms of recreational drugs, addiction can take many forms but generally they become a problem when they impair any aspect of our functioning - social, work, sexual or our interpersonal relationships, for example - or when we become dependent on them. Not being able to have sex without using drugs is a clear indication of a serious problem. Alcohol abuse is endemic in many elements of the gay and lesbian community and is seldom sufficiently acknowledged. There are distinct features that could indicate alcoholism, such as drinking 'in secret', missing work or other commitments due to alcohol, memory lapses or adjusting your routine in order to allow for more access to alcohol. Note that many alcoholics don't use alcohol every day - binge drinking can also be indicative of alcoholism. Your statement "...it feels like we're drowning..." is a very valid reflection of your concern. At the end of the day it doesn't matter whether we call it alcoholism or abuse - if there's a problem with excessive drinking it needs to be addressed.

You can contact NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). Look them up in your local telephone directory, and Cape Town has gay branches of both (I'm not sure whether other large cities have gay groups). Any counsellor would also be able to help you but the field of addictions is highly specialised so ask your GP to refer you to a specialist counsellor in your area. Take the initiative by taking action as soon as possible. If your partner is resistant to getting help make sure you look after yourself but be aware that he will probably try to undermine and sabotage your efforts.
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