Dear Dr. Frankie, Are Drugs And Alcohol Ruining My Relationship?

Dr Frankie

Dr. Frankie Bashan is a renowned relationship coach and dating expert.

She is a licensed clinical psychologist with over a decade of experience working with couples and individuals and specialized training in the field of trauma. She possesses a unique combination of formal training, innate emotional intelligence, and communication skills that allow her to help couples struggling with relationship issues of all kinds.

Dear Dr. Frankie,
How much do alcohol and drugs affect a relationship? What do alcohol and drugs symbolize both in individuals and in relationships?

What is the best way to approach this issue? Is this a concern for both people irrespective of the frequency of use? Is past usage and consumption an indicator of the present and the future? – Concerned

Dear Concerned,
These are complicated questions and the answers vary dramatically depending upon the individuals involved, their drug use history, and their genetics. As I answer this question please keep in mind that when I mention “drugs” I am also referring to alcohol. There is a tremendous problem in our LGBT community of alcohol abuse.

As many people know, studies show that genetics play an important role in how the body copes with drug use. Likewise, environment plays a role, for example if someone grows up with parents who are drug addicts or abusers the chance of repeating this pattern of behavior increases. Another factor in how a person will respond to drug use is what type of drug the person is ingesting. Some drugs are more addictive than others. Some drugs are more socially acceptable. For example, it is much more acceptable to admit you drink a six-pack of beer or smoke marijuana every night than to admit shooting heroin or smoking meth.

It is important to note that addiction or abuse is not necessarily determined by the quantity or frequency of drug use, but rather by the consequences of use. Some people can frequently use significant quantities of drugs without ever becoming addicted or having it negatively impact their lives. Others, who may even be consuming less quantity, less frequently, will find their drug use is affecting their work performance, relationships, and household responsibilities. They might even find themselves in legal trouble as a result (DUI, debt going to collection agencies, etc…).

Drug use can symbolize a variety of things. Some people use drugs to self-medicate and cope with the daily pressures and stressors of life. Some people use depressants or narcotics to numb themselves from emotional pain. Many people rely on drugs to rid themselves of their inhibitions and perceived shortcomings.

Alcohol abuse is much more common than alcohol dependence. When considering if alcohol is becoming too important in one’s daily life, one factor to consider is if you find yourself making plans to facilitate drinking.

For example, drinking alone is somewhat frowned upon and not nearly as fun as social drinking. What some alcohol abusers/dependents will do is find clever ways to integrate drinking activities into their daily lives; such as Champagne and Mimosa-laden brunches, hosting BBQs and football games, dinner parties with free flowing wine. You may wonder, who doesn’t enjoy a BBQ with friends or wine tasting party?

My point is that if you notice you or a loved one is always scheduling such activities to ensure a bottle of bubbly is never out of reach, consider this a red flag.

If you are still concerned about your personal or a loved one’s drug use, consult the Diagnostic Criteria from the DSM IV. This resource will provide specific criteria differentiating between drug abuse verses drug dependence.


Dear Dr. Frankie,
I am realizing that I need some practice asking the right kind of questions on a date. I don’t think I want to tell someone right away what I’m looking for, and then distrust them when they tell me what they already know I want to hear. I think I want to ask them questions to get to know them and let them be themselves. – Quizzical

Dear Quizzical,
Learning how to ask the right questions is something of an art form. While there are many things you are probably curious about, you certainly don’t want to come across as intrusive or inappropriate.

On the first date try to keep things on the lighter side. Avoid obviously heated topics such as politics and religion. You also don’t want to bring up Debbie-Downer topics such as previous relationship failures, family drama, and unresolved childhood issues.

Avoid revealing these personal issues for several reasons. People who discuss such personal topics on first dates are sending up ginormous red flags that they have poor boundaries and questionable judgment.

On the other hand, asking someone on a first or second date what kind of woman she is hoping to meet sounds like an appropriate question. I would suggest being honest, perhaps not terribly specific, when you are asked. By answering generally it is less likely you will find your date morphing into the ideal mate you just described ten minutes earlier.

Do keep in mind, however, that it is completely natural to want to try and impress your date. In the animal kingdom there are mating rituals that involve spreading ones most beautiful and most regal feathers or singing a beautiful melody to attract a nearby mate. I think it’s less about asking the right questions and more about letting things unfold naturally and seeing where they lead.


Dear Dr. Frankie,
I have been with my girlfriend for almost two years. She’s absolutely everything I need and want. My perfection. And her family is wonderful. I am very grateful for everything. However, less than a month ago I met someone at work. They had partnered us up for a special sales event and I met her about a week after that meeting. She’s very charming and every time I see her, my heart races.

She is five years older than me. We are so attracted to each other. My current girlfriend is my second relationship and both have been serious. Because I am so young, I don’t know if that’s what’s making me just want to live in the moment. With my girlfriend I picture a very happy future. With my crush I picture a very blissful now. Please help me. – Crushed Out

Dear Crushed Out,
It appears that despite your racing hormones you have the clarity to see the difference between a happy, stable future and a passion-infused tryst. Imagine that you were available to pursue something more than friendship with your crush. Is the idea still tempting or perhaps are you dreaming about her because she’s currently off-limits? Are you mostly intrigued by the physical attraction you and your crush share, and less interested in the idea of having a relationship?

My opinion is that crushes come and go, but being in a relationship with a woman you love, and whose family you love, is a rare and wonderful gift. If after your soul-searching you realize that you simply aren’t ready to be in a serious relationship at this time, then that is an entirely different situation.

You mentioned that you are young and this is only your second relationship. It’s natural to be curious about other women. But perhaps you just aren’t ready to be tied down with Ms. Right. This could be an opportunity to spread your wings and explore the world.

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