Relationships are hard. Being in a relationship with someone struggling with addiction can feel like an insurmountable challenge.
Love, of course, is complicated. You want what's best for the both of you, but you don't want to enable dangerous behaviors. At the same time, it's important to show your support and be compassionate and empathic.
How do you balance the need to take care of yourself while also honoring your relationship? What should you do if your partner relapses? Let's get into what you need to know.
Stop Denying the Situation
Denial underlies addiction, and it's often due to the massive stigma and fear associated with drug or alcohol abuse. Whether the addiction is recent or your partner has struggled for many years, it's important to be honest with yourself. There is no benefit in avoiding reality.
Denial can come in many forms, including rationalization and bargaining, and it may sound like the following statements:
It's not that bad.
They've cut back a lot. It's better than it was in the past.
Everyone parties. It's normal.
They're just stressed. Once they start feeling better, this will get better, too.
I'm probably just overreacting.
Accepting the addiction doesn't inherently make the addiction better. However, it does offer you more clarity and insight, which can help you decide the next steps you must take.
Educate Yourself on Addiction
It's easy to feel frustrated or disappointed with your partner for their seemingly selfish behaviors. But addiction isn't a choice- it's a complex disease that doesn't have a single cure.
Educating yourself on your loved one's condition can help you feel more informed and empowered. Rather than jump to assumptions, you can understand what you're facing. Read literature online. Watch documentaries. Make a genuine effort to learn as much as you can about neuroscience and current research about addiction.
You should also consider speaking to other people who might be experiencing the same difficulties. You can find like-minded individuals in support groups like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, or through events hosted by nonprofit organizations such as NAMI.
Be Mindful of Enabling Tendencies
Do you ever lie or "cover-up" your loved one's addiction? Do you bail them out when they can't make rent at the end of each month? Do you make intense ultimatums without implementing them?
It can be so easy to enable someone else, especially when it's your partner. You don't want to see them hurting or struggling. At the same time, your enabling can worsen the situation. If you don't require your partner to be accountable for their actions, you risk them taking advantage of your generosity. You also risk the ongoing cycle of addiction and codependency.
To stop enabling, you need to learn how to identify healthy boundaries for yourself. These boundaries should honor your physical, emotional, and financial well-being. While it's reasonable to make some compromises in a relationship, you shouldn't feel like you must sacrifice your whole life.
Have you talked to your loved one about their struggles? Have you expressed your genuine concern about their health? If you haven't, it's time for an honest discussion.
Prepare for this conversation in advance. Aim to share your feelings objectively and calmly. Ideally, you should find a neutral time where your loved one isn't under the influence. Let them know that you are happy to support their treatment and recovery efforts and offer to help them find resources if needed.
You may also want to consider staging an intervention. An intervention requires gathering your loved one's friends and family to discuss their feelings about their addiction. They must be willing to advocate for treatment and set boundaries if your loved one refuses to seek help.
Interventions can be powerful, but they shouldn't be taken lightly. You may want to consider this option if you haven't found success sharing your feelings directly.
Prepare Yourself For All Outcomes
What happens if your loved one isn't ready for sobriety? This reality may feel devastating, but you should work to accept that it's a possibility.
You cannot control anyone else, and you also aren't responsible for their recovery. That's why having your own support and coping skills is essential. You deserve a healthy and happy relationship that inspires you to be the best person you can be. If that isn't happening, it may be time to reevaluate your priorities.
Getting Help When Your Partner Struggles With Addiction
As a loved one, you can be an ally in addiction recovery. By letting your partner know you are willing to support their growth, you convey a sense of safety and hope.
At The Resurface Group, we conceptualize addiction as a family disease. We understand how it affects everyone in an individual's life. That's why we're passionate about providing multifaceted care for our clients and their loved ones. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.