How Can I Have a Relationship With Someone Who Doesn’t Have Substance Abuse Disorder?

When recovering from substance use disorder, developing a relationship with someone can be challenging, especially if they do not have a problem with substances. Remember, every relationship involves communication to ensure that your recovery comes first. 

Can I Be in a Relationship With Someone Without SUD? 

The short answer to this question is yes. The thing to keep in mind is that with this kind of relationship, there will be a unique set of challenges. If you want the relationship to succeed, such challenges will need to be addressed. 

Communication is critical. You want to set boundaries and guidelines so that you and your partner know how to be comfortable around substances. These boundaries could include: 

  • Removing substances from the house 
  • Only interacting with them in a social setting
  • Maintaining a curfew
  • Understand your triggers

There is no one specific answer to what the boundaries should be. Every relationship is different, and each person will feel comfortable and uncomfortable about different things hence, why communication is so important.

Can I Go Out With My Partner if They Plan On Using? 

This is a question that comes down to your comfort level. Everyone is different and is triggered by different things. You want to make sure that you are not pushing yourself into a situation that is too discomforting. If you are okay with going to a bar and not drinking, that is great. If you feel a bar is too triggering, that is okay too. You have to do what makes you comfortable and does not put your sobriety into question. In a healthy relationship, your partner will understand if you cannot go out to certain places or see certain people.

How Do I Effectively Communicate With My Partner? 

Healthy communication can come down to three basic principles. These three things are factors to keep in mind when having these difficult conversations with your partner, especially if there was damage to your relationship before entering treatment. Healthy communication could help rebuild your relationship. These help factors include doing the following:

  • Speak from your perspective
  • Do not tell them what to do
  • Manage expectations

What's an Example of Healthy Communication?

As an example, consider a situation where your partner is using marijuana, and you are recently out of treatment. You want to make sure that you use "I feel" phrases like, "I feel uncomfortable having marijuana in the house because it is triggering for me." You want to avoid making demands by saying they cannot have it in the house because your partner may get defensive, and the conversation will lose productivity. 

Lastly, you want to manage your expectations. In this scenario, your partner uses marijuana for medicinal purposes, so they need to keep it in the house. Even though this makes you uncomfortable, you may have to accept that, and you two can compromise that it is only used when you are not home and that it is kept in a locked space that only your partner has access to.

What if My Partner Is Unwilling to Compromise?

Ultimately, there is no definitive relationship advice to answer this question. Every relationship is different, so there may or may not be a reason for the lack of compromising. The thing that you do have to remind yourself is how important your sobriety is. Without sobriety, you stand to lose everything, more than just a relationship. The number one focus should be on how you maintain being sober. In a healthy relationship, your partner will recognize that and want to make sure you stay sober. 

Another thing to remember is that your partner may also be coping with their problems. They may also be recovering from past problems. If this is the situation, the relationship may need professional guidance in order to be repaired

How Can I Get My Partner to See My Perspective? 

This can be difficult to do sometimes. You want your partner to see your side of things, but you fall short whenever you try to put it into words. Luckily, two resources may be helpful to you. There is Al-Anon which is a support group specifically for people who are loved ones or those who are in recovery. It is a way to talk through your experience and work through the problems you may have. 

There are also open meetings. This can include community events, 12-step, or other religious meetings you and your loved one can attend. Such group settings are designed to give couples a platform to educate and convey their needs surrounding the relationship. Having this space not only helps with communication, but it will allow your loved one to see how you and your peers experience addiction. 

Being in a relationship with someone who doesn't have substance use disorder can be incredibly challenging at times. You may feel like they don't understand you or the struggles you are going through. This can lead to doubting yourself and your sobriety. If you start to falter and your sobriety has been put into question, there are people out there who want to help you. NorthStar Transitions located in Boulder, CO. can be the place to find that help. Our experienced staff can help you and the ones you care about to navigate through treatment and recovery. We offer support for those who are having issues with substance abuse and any underlying mental health issues. If you or a loved one is in need of treatment, don't wait; get help now. You can take the first steps by calling us at (303) 558-6400.

Search Blog Posts
Back to blog
Call 866-407-2240
Verify Insurance