My fiancée and I have postponed our wedding once already due to my family’s concerns that she’s an addict. At my insistence, she has stopped drinking but is now using marijuana and says this means she no longer has to attend AA. I can live with the way things are now but how can I be sure she’ll never relapse?
Unfortunately, in a phrase, the answer to your question is: you can’t.
While there is no fail-safe way to know whether your fiancée is completely cured of her addiction (if that’s even possible), there are some ways to know she HASN’T kicked it to the curb, including that she:
Has transferred her addiction to something else. You mentioned that she’s moved from alcohol to marijuana, which is a sign that she’s likely still controlled by her addiction and continues to self-medicate.
Did not quit voluntarily. You mentioned that she stopped drinking “at your insistence”, which makes me think she wouldn’t have done so if you hadn’t required it. She’s aware that her behavior is what’s holding up your wedding plans as well, so there is no guarantee that she won’t simply return to the bottle if you marry.
Is not willing to seek help or go to rehab. Sober people – or people who want to get clean – don’t resist asking for support because they know they can’t do it on their own! That’s why the first of the famous “12 Steps” of Alcoholics Anonymous is:
“We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction – –
that our lives had become unmanageable.”
If she thinks that – just because she’s switched drugs – she is no longer an addict or has to attend AA (or a similar support group), she’s deluding herself or trying to convince you that she’s “healed” when she’s probably just white-knuckling it on her own.
If you’re already married and struggling to create healthy boundaries with an addict
or need to take better care of yourself during their recovery
(or even understand how you may have contributed to their addiction),
check out this article on How to Support a Spouse in Addiction Recovery.
There are many other signs of ongoing addiction. Have you witnessed any of these?
Your fiancée tries to hide her drug use and is secretive about this and other things.
Her drug use has become a central focus of her daily schedule and she works around it.
Other former friends, interests, and activities have fallen by the wayside.
She’s cared less and less about you: your thoughts and feelings and what is going on with you.
Money goes first to make sure she has her drugs, then to other necessities such as food, utilities, rent, etc.
She has distanced herself from everyone – including close family members—who have expressed concern (or set healthy boundaries) related to her drug use.
If you recognize any of the above, I would implore you to both postpone your wedding and to take your engagement off the table altogether until she demonstrates – of her own volition—both a desire and a willingness to face her addiction. Having done through a broken engagement myself, I know how heart-wrenching this decision and the aftermath can be but the only thing worse that this might be to marry someone who will never be a full and healthy partner.
The reason I say this is not only for your sake and the sake of your future family but because people often make significant changes once they get clean. Give yourself a chance to get to know her again – and vice versa – when she’s a new and sober person.
All the best and let us know if we can help.