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Drugs in the underwear drawer: Is it a problem?

  • anonymous Asks ...

    My wife is a recovering alcoholic. I found a bottle of percocets in her underwear drawer. She doesn’t have any pain problems and the fact that she kept the pills hidden where I never normally look rather than in the medicine cabinet speaks volumes (I was only in there at all because I wanted to surprise her with some new lingerie and needed to find out sizing information). When I confronted her on this she admitted that she took one once in a while when she was having a very hard day. She says she’s had the pills for over a year and she only took one once in a while, a couple a month or so. She said she didn’t want me to worry and that she was embarrassed by her need for this but that it was either bend once in a while with a pill when things got too heavy or break entirely and fall back into drinking (which was very bad). I can understand because I will have a joint every once in a while to take the edge off and sometimes it helps. But I do not have an addictive personality like her, though she has been doing so good for so long. Do you think she needs to get back to do another treatment program? She was at Caron 7 years ago.

  • Dr. Ari Hahn Says ...
    Dr. Ari Hahn

    The quick answer is that she should not necessarily go now into another treatment program. She might not be using the narcotics in an addictive manner. I think that the first step should always be to work on the assumption that she is telling the truth. But that does not mean you should trust that she is telling the truth. It is all too easy to dull pain, be it physical or emotional, with chemicals. Your first goal is to figure out if she has a problem right now, or has a potential serious problem.

    Tell her that although you are concerned about the potential for abuse, you believe her. Tell her that she should keep them in the medicine cabinet because, although she does not have a problem now, you want to be there for her if she will have a problem. Keeping it a secret is dangerous for her health, and because you love her, you want to be there for her.

    You might want to suggest alternative ways of dealing with "hard days." Is there some sort of positive activity that you can do with her or encourage her to do? Maybe a sport, or dancing, or even going out to eat. You might make finding a healthy alternative a joint project. A fun board game with your spouse might even be a substitute for a joint as well.

    But keep an eye out. Watch the pills. Learn the side effects such as dry mouth and bad breath. Narcotics also promote snoring in some people. If you can learn the signs that she took narcotics that day, you will be able to see if she really has a problem. Then you can (possibly) confront her.

    It would be helpful if she is in a 12 step program. This is where a mentor is helpful.

    I wish you a lot of luck.

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