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We Asked People How Drug Use Affected Their Relationships

Mixing drugs and romance can lead to startlingly different outcomes.

by Allison Tierney
27 May 2016, 12:00am


Photo via Flickr user Gastón Gaiduk

The synergy between two people in a relationship is enough to create an effect akin to taking a mind-altering substance. But when you add actual drugs into the mix, the experience can get even more complex.

Just as no two relationships are equal, nor are two substances; it's no surprise that mixing opiates versus party drugs with romance can result in startlingly different outcomes. We talked to people who've fused intimacy with other drugs—from acid to cocaine to fentanyl—to find out the ways in which different substances enhanced, damaged, or otherwise complicated their partnerships.


Photo via Flickr user Bit Boy

Kevin, 25
Length of relationship: 2 years
Drugs involved: MDMA, LSD

Pretty much all my girlfriends in the past have been relatively drug positive. It's definitely a requirement: If one person's doing it, the other person needs to be cool with it too, or participation is nice if both [people] can do it.

[My ex and I] used MDMA together pretty frequently. I'm really into techno and electronic music, and she wasn't... I felt like she enjoyed doing MDMA, but she would just like sitting at home watching a movie or hanging out on it, whereas it was more of a party thing for me. Her MDMA use increased because she wanted to make a connection with me when I went out and partied, and I think that eventually took a toll on her. MDMA was kind of a band-aid solution for her not liking my kind of music... You shouldn't do drugs just to keep up with your partner or because they do it. It can get really toxic. She had an addictive personality, and it got to the point where she was taking drugs out of my personal stash without telling me, then lying about it. It's something that needs to be controlled; you need to make sure you're on the same wavelength... Psychedelics are a different kind of animal.

We did LSD for the first time together—I had done it before, she hadn't. In a negative way, I don't know if my perception of her was the same afterward. It was a very eye-opening experience. There was a time where we just laid there looking at each other and didn't say a word for like an hour. You just do a lot of thinking about yourself, your partner... I knew there were problems that I was ignoring [in the relationship]. When we did LSD, it gave me this realization that, holy shit, these big, glaring issues that I know are there in our relationship are much bigger than I ever thought they could have been. We ended up ending a two-year relationship five months later.


Photo by Jake Kivanc

David, 35
Length of relationship: 3 years
Drug involved: cocaine

I've had other relationships where things went badly because we were doing loads of cocaine together, and that was not a good idea. But this [particular] relationship was about me doing [drugs] behind [my girlfriend's] back. When it started, she was OK with it, but then I fucked it up one day and lied to her about it. I told her I needed to do drugs, and then she said, "Well, you need to stop doing them then because you're lying to me about it." Then I just continued to do it behind her back.

Being someone who'd never done them before, she didn't understand the need to do them. I wanted to surround myself with someone like that at the time, so I would stop doing it. Doing it was almost like the Dexter effect, like when you're doing something that is kind of a rush and doing it behind someone's back... There was a certain appeal that I was going out and getting drugs with her car, picking them up, coming back, and doing them in the vicinity of her... Then there was this other part of me that desperately wanted to get caught again so that I could actually stop doing it.

It's hard to explain to someone who's never done drugs before that you can do that shit, and it's more of a celebratory thing in some cases than anything else. But people won't understand if they haven't done it.... We would get into arguments about basically nothing, but that's just the sketchy day-after bullshit... I actually liked that she didn't do [coke], and I never wanted her to try it in case she did like it, and then she'd end up like me.


Fentanyl, pictured above, is commonly pressed into pills meant to look like OxyContin. Photo via Twitter

Leah, 21
Length of relationship: 4 years
Drugs involved: fentanyl, OxyContin, crack, cocaine

My boyfriend and I have been together four years, and we've been living together for just over two months. We were using drugs together—uppers (coke and crack)—when it first started. In my boyfriend's basement, we'd do blow, we'd go out, just stroll around the neighborhood high or go over to a buddy's house, smoke a couple rocks, stay up all night. We'd listen to music and talk.

Then he was looking for the next high, and I was done with it. OxyContin came along... That was only a couple of months into our relationship, and then I told him it was freaking me out, and he needed to stop. He did, but then occasionally it would come around again. I don't really do drugs anymore—I do blow occasionally, twice a year maybe. When [my boyfriend] went to jail for four or five months about a year ago, that's when I stopped. Right before he went to jail, we weren't together. He fucked off for a little bit because he wanted to do fentanyl. I went out every weekend, and I partied my face off and did a bunch of blow.

I've seen him in jail—in a jumper, behind glass, with that old school payphone. I've seen him OD. It's fucked up because even now I look at him and I'm like, You're not the person I fell in love with. He wanted to take me out to dinner recently, and I said, "No, I'm not going to watch you fall asleep at a table in public." We don't have fun anymore. Day to day, it's frustrating. I wake up, and I hear his Oxy grinder. It's the first thing I hear in the morning—him grinding pills.


Photo via Flickr user Farmer Dodds

Josh, 28
Length of relationship: 1 year
Drugs involved: LSD, MDMA, ketamine

I was on a date with someone, and she seemed like more of a quiet, nerdy type, and then it turned out she was more of a bohemian than a nerd. So we're both totally into drugs. I'm like, "Hey, I got some acid." This is our first date. We've only been talking to each other for a few hours. She was totally into it, we dropped some acid, and I put on some trippy techno set, and we ended up having this mind-blowing sexual experience. It was like nothing else in our lives. We were full-on going at it while we were peaking, and the only measure of time we had was the three-hour set I had put on. It was like we lost all concept of boundaries between each other, and we were like a single mind. We only stopped when the music stopped. After that, we had ten hours or so with our heads full of acid and just talked and got to know everything about each other. By the time we were coming down, it felt like we'd known each other for years. We had a pretty good relationship for about a year after that.

After the first date, it's like we'd already gone through the getting to know each other stage in a huge way. It was like cramming months of a relationship into a single date. We used plenty of [other drugs together]: mostly acid, some ketamine, and MDMA... Love is kind of like a drug in and of itself, and when you combine drugs, they enhance the others' effects. Definitely the strongest, most powerful trips have been with someone I love.

I would say it all depends on the setting. If drug use is an overdone part of your life, or you don't have that connection, then you're probably not going to have the best experience. In my case, just meeting someone, getting to know them... It can be very useful for that. [Drugs] can produce such profound experiences that I don't think there is really any way of replicating, so I could see myself being an occasional user of psychedelics and MDMA for the rest of my life, and definitely using it to help grow relationships.

Photo via Flickr user my mind is goo

Rory, 37
Length of relationship: 5 years
Drugs involved: OxyContin, morphine, fentanyl, heroin

My wife didn't even know about my addiction for a long time because I was getting such a big prescription [for opiates] from my doctor. It was really easy for me to keep it hidden. I had a good job and was successful. After we got married, the doctor started cutting me down. Number one was that it had a major financial impact. It still has (I've been clean since February), and we're trying to work our way out of it. My wife always had bills paid—it went from that to being totally chaotic... our house was foreclosed on.

I never stole from her. She knew if I needed to get something that I was going to get it no matter what, so she would—I know she feels bad about it—help me get the finances. She knew, but I put her in such a position that she kind of had no [choice]. She has a big heart and loves me. She would see what I was going through and didn't want me to go through that. I was making $250,000 a year, and she was making $100,000, so we were doing really well. I mean, I was going through $400 or $500 per day to begin with. I was selling gifts she got me at pawn shops: a crossbow, lots of jewelry, and she pawned some of her stuff, like computers. I was on fentanyl [during this time] when it got really bad.

I picked up my last dose of morphine [from the pharmacy] on December 24. When my doctor cut me off, I was scrambling... I played it out to her like, "Oh, let's go to Vancouver for a Christmas holiday!" The first night we were there, I asked her to give me a ride to the Downtown Eastside. She was like, "What are we doing down here? This place is awful." I had her park somewhere safer while I went down and scored. She was asking me what I was buying. I didn't want to tell her I was buying heroin, so I told her I was getting pills. We were there for about eight days, and that trip was horrible. We fought the whole time. We didn't do anything together because the whole trip was based around me going to score.

It got insane where our downstairs bathroom was disgusting, just paraphernalia all over the place. She found some needles one time and was like, "What are these for?" It slowly progressed where she became complacent as well. She had never seen anything like that. Tylenol threes are the strongest things she's ever taken in her life.

Things are a thousand times better [now that I'm clean]. She still has lots of issues with trust... I broke that trust so badly that she doesn't know what I'm capable of doing. Even if I've never cheated on her... She wonders if I lied to her about those things what other things I also might be lying to her about. If I go to the bathroom for a few minutes longer than it normally would take, she'll be like, "What were you doing in there?"

I can tell you one hundred percent without me having her there, I don't think I would have ever made it through... I wouldn't have blamed her if she gave up because of what I put her through, but if she had given up on me, I would have for sure given up on myself.

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