How Do I Help My Partner with Their Addiction?
Addiction impacts all types of intimate partnerships, from new relationships to decades-long marriages. Alcohol abuse, alone, creates a range of issues within relationships, from safety and trust concerns to sexual dysfunction and financial stress and more. Addiction is the third most cited reason for women seeking a divorce and the eighth most common for men, and data from the University of Denver indicates that substance use disorder is one of the leading causes of marital dissolution. Translation: you’re not alone, but you do need help. If you or your partner are battling addiction, it’s only a matter of time before it consumes your relationship if left untreated. Here are some steps you can take to address addiction in your relationship so you can have your partner back.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant and your relationship will never survive your partner’s addiction if you don’t talk about it. As cliched as it sounds, the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it. They may not want to give their addiction a voice because they don’t want to admit it to themselves or appear weak in front of you…they also simply may not want to stop. Make it clear to them that you know they’re using or drinking, and that it needs to be addressed. You should also set terms for accountability to protect yourself, both physically and emotionally. Make it clear that their drinking or drug use can’t continue.
Chances are, your partner’s family and friends are aware of their substance abuse issues. If addiction is threatening your relationship, enlist their help to conduct an intervention and make your partner see how much their drinking or drug use has impacted other people in their lives. An intervention can be an eye-opening experience for those who aren’t aware of how out of control their substance abuse has gotten. You can either organize an in-person or remote addiction intervention, depending on COVID concerns and other factors affecting your family.
As you start to look for treatment options, urge your partner to start their recovery process by going to meetings. Whether it’s AA, NA or SMART Recovery, it helps that they have a supportive network of people to talk to and lean on who understand what they’re going through. They will likely be resistant to the idea at first, but let them know that you support them and that it’s important to your relationship.
Addiction hijacks the brain’s chemistry and forces people to do things they never thought they’d do, often to the people they love the most. There may be lying, deception, irritability, manipulation and even aggression; but just bear in mind that your partner is still in there somewhere. REMEMBER TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE AND OUT OF HARM’S WAY AT ALL TIMES. IF YOUR PARTNER IS GETTING AGGRESSIVE, MAINTAIN SAFE DISTANCE AND REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE SITUATION. When they calm down, let them know that their behavior was completely unacceptable and that they need to get help, regardless of what happens in the relationship. Never put yourself in harm’s way.
Even if you partner realizes that they need help, they’re not likely to look for treatment on their own, nor is it a good idea for them too. It’s hard to look for help when your world is falling down around you, you’re battling withdrawal symptoms and you’re not sure of your financial situation. Help them search for a treatment facility and assist them in figuring out their finances and determining what kind of programs they should consider. Having support and assistance when looking for treatment increases chances of following through with entering a program.
Don’t enable your loved one or give in to what you know are ill-advised impulses, like letting them come home early from treatment or giving them money because they’re in withdrawal. While they’re in treatment, ask questions and show interest in their program. If they’re in a residential program, give them the time and space they need to heal, but try to get involved in whatever family program their facility offers. It’s helpful that your partner knows you’re with them on their treatment journey.
Recovery Unplugged is ready to help your partner or spouse with their addiction so you can restore trust and love to your relationship. We offer full menu of addiction treatment services, including detox and withdrawal management, behavioral rehab and more. Recovery Unplugged accepts most major insurance plans and offers locations throughout the country. Our Family Program allows you to be an active participant in your partner or spouse’s addiction recovery, learn about the disease of addiction and support your partner with their ongoing needs. We also offer sensitive and supportive care for LGBTQ+ couples struggling with addiction. Start your treatment now.
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