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Ask The Experts

How Do I Ask My Ex-Boyfriend If He's Doing Drugs?


Recently I was over at my ex-boyfriends house picking up some things I had left there. He was not home, but I had a key and permission to be in the house. However, when I opened a drawer to look for my clothes I saw what I thought might be drug paraphernalia. How should I safely approach him about the problem? Should I tell someone more prominent in his life (parents), or should I avoid this to prevent blowing the situation out of proportion and upsetting him more (thus making the situation more dangerous)?

David Venarde, Psy.D., Psychologist in Private Practice, Clinical Assistant Professor at Albert Einstein Medical School, Former Head of Substance Abuse Treatment at NYU's Counseling and Wellness Center answers:

I recommend taking a direct and caring approach with your ex-boyfriend, as long as you feel comfortable talking openly with him. Given that you are not sure exactly what you found in the drawer, first let him know what you saw and ask him what it is. If he confirms that it is drug paraphernalia, then you can ask him about his use of drugs and get more information.

With a bit more information, you’ll likely be in a better position to decide how to proceed. If you are concerned for his more immediate safety (for example, he is using intravenous drugs, also know as “shooting up”), then you may want to involve parents or others in a position to get him professional help quickly. If he explains his use – or non-use – in a way that is less worrisome, you can express any concerns you have. You can leave it at that, or if he is open to talking with a professional (especially if he is worried about his drug use), then you can encourage him in that direction.

Regardless of the response your receive, asking directly about this and expressing your concerns gives him the opening to talk.