Falling prey to substance use is difficult for the person experiencing it, as well as their family members, especially as a spouse or partner. If you are partners, it can be difficult to find the line between being compassionate and making sure they get help. Have you ever wondered what the most challenging aspect of your relationship is or if the relationship was going to last through difficult circumstances?
This question arises with many partnerships when substance use is involved. There are a variety of challenges with substance use that can lead to feelings of anger, resentment, stress, or make you feel depressed.
When substance use is involved, conflicts within a relationship need a delicate hand to get the recovery journey to begin. Below are the top three things you can do when your partner has a substance use disorder or may look like they need substance use treatment.
#1. Educate Yourself: Substance Use Is Not a Walk in the Park
First and foremost, understand that substance use or the recovery process will not be easy. It will take much commitment from you to help your partner overcome the challenges. Furthermore, you may need to make some lifestyle adjustments and make sure you stay on top of your self-care.
As you educate yourself and understand more about substance use and how it affects the body, you may come to better understand some of the issues you and your partner may have had. Perhaps you begin to know how to help them through this difficult time as best as you can.
Speaking to professionals or support groups for families dealing with substance use can help you understand addiction at its core. The more you learn, the better you will be equipped. Additionally, once you educate yourself, you can begin to build a plan of action on how to take the necessary steps toward helping your loved one through treatment.
#2. Communicate Without Enabling or Angering
The next step in supporting your partner who struggles with substance use is to keep the lines of communication open. Never close those doors because it can make your partner feel isolated and may cause them to engage in substances more often or relapse if they have already begun recovery.
Try to be open and receptive to whatever your partner reveals to you, even if it is hard to hear. If you ask for honesty, do not get angry about what they say. Understand that it is probably as hard for them to say as it is for you to hear, but communication is an important step in the process.
When your partner opens up discussions, they may let you know what they need or tell you how difficult the situation is currently. Hearing how hard the process is can be painful because you want your partner to be happy and comfortable. Do not let this make you think it is okay to let them go back to bad habits, even if it is easier. Speak with an addiction recovery professional on how to keep the communication door open and the right things to say to your partner once those doors are open to avoid enabling or angering them.
#3. Create Your Boundaries
Being the partner of someone who struggles with substance use can be draining and cause you to experience a breaking point. This can be a terrifying or frustrating situation for both you and your partner. Outbursts at these points will not help the situation.
Boundaries are important in any relationship, but even more so when substance use is involved. Being emotionally connected to someone struggling with substance use disorder can take a toll on your emotional and mental health. Although your partner needs support, you cannot be supportive if you are not taking care of yourself. Boundaries and self-care are crucial here for both of your sakes.
If you get to a breaking point, talking to an addiction recovery specialist can help you create boundaries and find ways to maintain your ability to help while taking care of yourself.
Finding Help for a Partner With an Addiction
Being supportive does not mean you need to be a punching bag for your partner or be the one to hold up all of the emotional baggage. Instead, you simply need to be someone they can trust and open up to.
If your partner has an addiction but is not ready to seek help, be patient. Let them know you are ready to support them and offer help in whatever way they are willing to take it. When they are ready to get treatment, help them find the right place to go and the right treatment options. NorthStar Transitions has a variety of options to fit each client's unique needs, and we offer family counseling to help you through the process and be the best support system you can be.
While many partnerships are prone to stressful situations, know that there is hope out there for you and your partner, even when addiction is involved. You do not have to go at it alone, and substance use disorder can be overcome. The addiction recovery journey is a long and challenging path to embark on, but with the right help, your partner can overcome substance use and reclaim their life and you can get back to a loving, functional relationship with them. At NorthStar Transitions, we understand how friends and family can make the most impact on their loved one’s life. Your role as a support system is just as important as other tools in the recovery process. By understanding your path, you can better support and help your loved one find treatment and be successful in it. For more information on how to get help for an addicted partner, reach out to NorthStar Transitions at (303) 558-6400.