It’s finally here…Recovery Unplugged wants to personally wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day. May your chocolates never melt, may your cards be clever and genuine and may your love song playlist be that perfect mix of respectable indie, unforgettable standards and sappy pop. As we wrap up our unofficially titled “Let’s Ruin Love for Everyone” series, Recovery Unplugged has admittedly had a little bit of sardonic fun lampooning the commonly held tropes that surround Valentine’s Day. We now want to switch gears and discuss addiction and relationships, and the special commitment that romantic partners of those struggling with substance use disorder exhibit.
The Significant Stress of Addiction on Relationships
There are practically innumerable ways that addiction can ruin relationships, whether it’s aggression or threats of violence, infidelity, dishonesty, financial strain, intimacy issues, manipulation or anything else. Addiction tests the very fabric of a relationship in ways that few situations can. It can often get to the point at which the addiction is the third wheel, and takes over the worse things get. Romantic partners of those suffering with SUD can, and often do, feel as though they come second to drugs and alcohol, and many eventually give up on trying to save a relationship they believe to be lost.
Addressing Addiction in Relationships in Treatment and Recovery
Unfortunately, while addiction has been widely characterized as a “family disease”, and the treatment landscape has become much more sensitive to the issues that families face, there are comparatively little resources that specifically offer guidance for unmarried domestic partners. Instead, many are left to rely on outside couples counselors who may not be experienced in the behavioral pathology of addiction. There are, however, more and more resources to help loved ones of SUD survivors, whatever role they may occupy, better understand the disease of substance abuse and how they can better aid in their loved one’s recovery, including from SAMHSA and other organizations.
Staying Safe and Smart
The most important thing, however, is for romantic partners of addicts to preserve their own personal safety. The unfortunate reality of addiction is that drugs and alcohol quickly hijack the brain’s chemistry and things can get violent. For those who are living with addiction in their relationships, it’s critical to realize that no relationship is worth your personal safety or autonomy and to extricate yourself from a dangerous or violent union. In addition to the immediate safety risks of living with intimate-partner violence, this situation can also cause victims to develop substance abuse issues of their own, according to data from the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Empowering Romantic Partners in Addiction-Plagued Relationships
As we prepare to observe another Valentine’s Day, the sentiments of love conveyed by couples in relationships affected by addiction unquestionably carry a weight all their own. It takes a special kind of love and commitment to weather this process with a romantic partner. When the natural inclination is to “cut one’s losses”, it’s rare that partners actually have the wherewithal to stick around. With that being said, Recovery Unplugged wants to send out a special Valentine’s Day greeting to couples in recovery…you have earned your happiness.