When pop star Ariana Grande confirmed her relationship with the rapper/singer Mac Miller in 2016, it appeared like the storybook pairing. Two artists at the apex of their respective careers formed a dynamic, creative partnership. Musically, they collaborated on a sublime rhythm track entitled “My Favorite Part,” which opens with Miller crooning, “…you just don’t know how beautiful you are, and baby that’s my favorite part.”
However, the relationship was ill-fated. They split in 2018 and published reports like this one identified the cause: Miller’s substance addiction.
Months after they broke up, Miller died of an accidental overdose at 26. Fentanyl, alcohol, and cocaine were discovered in his system. When he made that song with Grande, he hinted at the quagmire his addiction had become: “It’s been a while since I’ve been sober/This life can be so hard, I’d rather talk about you…”
The public details of Grande’s relationship with Miller only hint at how difficult it is to love and end a relationship with someone who has an addiction.
To do so, one has to be firm in their resolve, careful with how they treat that person, and mindful of their safety. This is especially true if children are involved.
Ultimately, addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder of the brain that causes a person to pursue and use their substance of choice in the face of adverse circumstances, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
In fact, the signs of addiction often manifest in three ways: physical, behavioral, and psychological.
The physical signs can be any of the following:
The most behavioral signs associated with addiction can include:
Addiction has the ability to hijack and completely rewire the brain. This can manifest psychological signs that are quite noticeable. Those signs include:
Does this sound like the behavior of your significant other?
Another tool health care professionals use to assess whether someone has an active addiction is the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), considered the principal authority for psychiatric diagnoses.
The DSM-5 outlines verified and evidenced criteria that can help you understand the depth of your loved one’s addiction. According to the manual, if a person exhibits two of the following symptoms over 12 months, addiction may be present:
There is nothing more painful than seeing someone you love destroy themselves with substance addiction. If you have time invested in a relationship and have created a family with that person, breaking up can be absolutely heartrending.
The persistent, dangerous, and often deadly nature of addiction almost mandates that you make a break from that person before it consumes you both.
What’s more, when you decide to break up with anyone — whether they are an addict or not — it is always best to be honest, upfront, and respectful.
Here are five tips for safely ending a relationship with someone, according to therapists in an article for Power of Positivity:
You may feel guilty for leaving someone caught in the abyss of addiction, particularly if children are involved. You may genuinely fear for their life especially when the relationship was the only thing that seemed to keep them “alive.” This is particularly the case when that person does not seek treatment.
Writing for Psychology Today, Susan Pease Gadoua, a therapist and best-selling author, wrote this about the consequences a couple can face when the addicted person does not seek treatment:
Because all addictive illnesses are progressive, the only path for the addict and his or her spouse is a downward spiral — if they don’t get help.
Divorcing someone whom you have children with is never easy, but it is critical to the family’s wellbeing.
This is especially true when there are children involved because they need a stable adult around. When addiction is present, both parents are unavailable, and there is little or no stability and consistency, Gadoua wrote.
It is very likely that friends and family members may not be aware of your partner’s addiction. In the event that you choose to break up with your significant other, the people closest to you may question your decision, states the Power of Positivity.
They may even try to convince you to remain in the relationship for the sake of the family, especially in the event that children are involved. Relatives of that person may attempt to persuade you to hang in there, believing that the relationship can save the addicted person’s life.
Nevertheless, it is still best that you remain firm in your decision because your safety and that of your children (if there are any) are paramount, even in the face of considerable backlash and doubt.
The fallout that comes from our breakups can be considerable, but it is nowhere near the magnitude of what Grande, an international celebrity, faced when she decided to end things with Miller.
In 2018, TMZ reported that Miller was arrested on charges of driving under the influence (DUI) and committing a hit-and-run. Specifically, he knocked down a power pole in the Los Angeles area with his luxury SUV and fled the scene on foot with two other passengers. The incident occurred not too long after he and Grande broke up.
One particular Twitter user blamed Grande for Miller’s DUI, which compelled her to respond with this:
“I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be. I have cared for him and tried to support his sobriety and prayed for his balance for years…Of course I didn’t share about how hard or scary it was while it was happening but it was.”
Predictably, that backlash compounded in the aftermath of Miller’s fatal overdose.
Here is one comment she received on her Instagram page: “Hope you’re happy now he’s out of your life cause now he can’t continue being in our’s.”
Here’s another one: “You did this to him, smh.”
It caused the singer to temporarily disable comments on her Instagram page.
But many of Grande’s fans came to her defense, with one of them posting a comment that best states why leaving someone with an addiction is the prudent thing to do:
The first reaction of some people is to blame Ariana Grande for Mac Miller’s death to the point she had to deactivate her Instagram comments. All she did was to remove herself from a toxic situation. She wanted him sober. There is nothing wrong with that. — Ines (@inihelene) September 7, 2018
There are resources and programs available for the spouses of addicted persons, especially if you intend on sticking things out with your companion.
Al-Anon: One of the most reputable 12-Step programs in the world, Al-Anon is a group that supports people who have been affected by alcohol addiction, including spouses and partners, children, parents, and friends.
Couple Recovery from Addiction: This organization adheres to a holistic healing model of couple-based addiction recovery by not only focusing on the recovery of the addicted spouse but on the relationship as well.
Nar-Anon: Nar-Anon is a 12-Step support group for the loved ones of people with substance use disorders beyond alcohol.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: The National Domestic Violence website has a repository of resources and information for the victims and survivors of domestic abuse. It also provides a hotline for people who need immediate crisis intervention and support: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Recovering Couples Anonymous: Though not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous, Recovering Couples Anonymous operates on the same 12-Step principles of recovery, which has been modified for couples.
SMART Recovery Family & Friends: SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is a nonreligious, science-based support group alternative to Al-Anon. SMART Recovery Family & Friends is specifically geared towards the spouses, family, and friends of someone in recovery.
Whether you choose to remain with your significant other or not, you could collaborate with that person’s family members and friends to get them into a professional treatment program. An interventionist can help you accomplish this objective.
An interventionist is someone trained to set up interventions, which is a gathering of family, friends, and/or co-workers of an addicted person who comes together for the express purpose of getting them into a treatment program.
An interventionist can set up the actual intervention and orchestrate treatment options for the subject before the actual meeting.
Substance abuse treatment is essentially a comprehensive, multilevel program that addresses the profound complexity of addiction. Whether that substance is alcohol, opioids, cocaine, benzodiazepines, or prescription drugs, a professional recovery program is designed to treat the entire individual — mind, body, and soul.
A comprehensive program includes medical detoxification, where the addictive substance is removed from the body. Next, is counseling and therapy, which can occur through a residential treatment or outpatient program, depending on the severity of that person’s addiction. These stages are where a client receives the sort of psychological treatment that identifies the underlying causes of addiction.
After treatment is completed, that client can be connected to a recovery community and resources that provide support, mentorship, and inspiration via an alumni program.
Ariana Grande turns off Instagram comments as trolls blame her for ex Mac Miller's death. (n.d.). Retrieved from from https://ew.com/news/2018/09/07/ariana-grande-mac-miller-instagram/
Ariana Grande's must-read response to a fan's rude tweet. Lesson learned. (2018, May 23). Retrieved from from https://www.upworthy.com/ariana-grande-s-must-read-response-to-a-fan-s-rude-tweet-lesson-learned
Delphi Behavioral Health Group. (2018, August 27). Drug Addict or Alcoholic Spouse | Help for Spouses of Drug Addicts. Retrieved from from https://delphihealthgroup.com/addiction/spouse/#recognizing-the-signs-of-addiction-in-your-spouse
Finn, N. (2018, October 23). The Truth About Ariana Grande's Relationship With Mac Miller. Retrieved from from https://www.eonline.com/news/979732/the-truth-about-ariana-grande-s-complicated-relationship-with-mac-miller