Enabling Addiction - You Need, I Take
“Cynthia” never thought life was going to get so absurd, to the point where she felt like a prisoner in her own house. For over 20 years she has been living with an addictive husband.
She spoke of his methamphetamine and alcohol addiction, his ugly mood swings and broken relationships with family and friends. It was a grizzly story, but she did wrap it up with a happy ending, saying that he no longer used meth and alcohol. That was the good news.
The story didn’t end, she spoke of another problem. She explained that she was being treated for anxiety and that her doctor had prescribed Xanax. This drug is in the group of drugs called benzodiazepines. It is intended to regulate unbalanced brain chemistry to manage anxiety disorders or anxiety caused by depression. It is also used for panic disorders. Its generic name is abprazolam. It is also sold under the prescription brand names Niravam and Xanaz XR.
She went on to explain that she had struggled with depression off and on, and said the Xanax worked well to manage her symptoms. She also shared that her husband took her medicine and used it himself. People with a history of drug addiction or abuse, or alcoholism should not take Xanax, as it is highly addictive. As she told the rest of the story the picture became much clearer.
Her seemingly good report on his not using meth and alcohol quickly turned sour as she told of his taking her meds. Xanax, like all prescription medications, should be taken in the right dosage at the right time. His taking her medicine meant that she had to go without. That is the nature of addiction.
He didn’t care at all that she needed the medicine to function at a satisfactory level. He only wanted it for himself. For 20 years she wrestled with him about his drug and alcohol use, and she actually thought he was “off that stuff” and doing better, but clearly the addictive behavior continued.
He never went into treatment, was never a part of a group, nor did he do anything to safeguard his inclination for abuse.
“I don’t think he ever told me the truth,” she said. “Now I see he was only trying to get me to leave him alone.” For years she had suffered alone, as the wife of an addict, but she said when the Xanax incident came up in the house, she turned to her doctor and told him what was going on.
Her problem was not only that her husband was taking her meds, but that he also became abusive when he couldn’t get them. “It was like living with an animal,” she said. She also turned to her church, which had a recovery group for families of addicts. This, she said, was her best move, as the group has been a source of comfort and support.
Cynthia said her husband denies any problem, so she issued an ultimatum—either get treatment or get out. He got out. She knew she could not continue in her living situation with her husband, because the immediate risk to her health and well-being, because of his addiction, was too great.
As painful as it was for her, she made a necessary move, which may or may not get his attention. She says she will wait it out and see if he gets help, but in the meantime she is taking care of herself.
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