Guest Post: How to help a partner struggling with an addiction

Guest Post: How to help a partner  struggling with an addiction

Written by Caleb Anderson, Recovery Hope

Every relationship has its ups and downs, but when a partner is struggling with an addiction, it can destroy the bond. It can be difficult to stay with someone when they’re potentially aggressive, but remember it’s substance abuse talking — not their true self.

Research shows that getting involved in the treatment process at some point can help with its success. So, do your best to be a supporting partner in an effort to help your loved one through their addiction while trying to retain your relationship.

Get Your Partner Into Treatment

Waiting for someone to ask for help is a slippery slope. If too much time passes without aid, there can be crises like job loss, medical emergencies, public embarrassment, arrests and even death. Tips to keep in mind include:

● Don’t bring up the topic of getting help if the person is under the influence, as they’re less likely to understand and may become aggressive, angry and violent.
● Emphasize the fact that you want him/her to get help because you care and you’re concerned for their well-being. List specific behavioral changes you’ve made and express why you’re worried.
● Don’t become accusatory — create a two-way dialogue so the person doesn’t feel bullied.
● If denial comes into play, table the conversation for another time, but continue to let your partner know the specific reasons why you believe there’s a problem based on specific behavioral observations.
● Keep in mind that substance abuse won’t go away overnight, so prepare yourself for the long haul.

Try To Heal As A Couple

Research suggests that showing compassion to a partner with a substance abuse disorder can go a long way. While you can’t change your partner, you can change the way you interact together. Being compassionate can help you feel more hopeful about your partner’s recovery — it’s also the most powerful healing tool you have because addiction and shame are closely linked. Try to understand your partner’s addiction problem by establishing a judgment-free zone where he/she can feel secure opening up and talking.

Create A Healthy, Positive Living Environment

If you and your significant other were separated during the treatment process, there are some things to keep in mind when your partner comes home.
● Keep the fridge and cupboards stocked with nutritious foods and beverages. Recovery survivors are likely to be malnourished from their addiction, so healthy eating is key. Turn cooking into a fun and rewarding activity you can together. Taking an active role in your partner’s life is an actionable way to show your support.
● Don’t bring up the past. Completing a rehab program is a major accomplishment, so keep the focus on the future. Show your support by pointing out positive changes that you’ve noticed.
● Don’t be afraid to communicate. Everyone handles the recovery process differently, so ask your partner what he/she needs from you so the expectations are clear.
● Consider attending marriage counseling to have a third-party point of view.

Know When It’s Best To Separate

If you feel as though you’ve done all that you can, and your partner has either changed after rehab (more distant, for example), or refuses to get help, know when it’s time to walk away from the relationship. It’s possible that there’s a risk of your own life becoming broken and your mental health becoming compromised.

The first step to supporting a partner struggling with a substance abuse addiction is educating yourself. Talk with a psychologist or counselor, or consider joining a support group catered towards those dealing with a significant other with a problem. Remember to take care of yourself through the recovery process as it may be taxing your mental and physical health in ways you may not even realize.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Filed under: ChicagoNow News

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