How Addiction Affects Romantic Partners
When a person becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs, it puts immense stress on loved ones around them – especially their romantic partner. An addiction has the power to encroach onto romantic relationships, shattering the trust, intimacy, and comfort that was once there.
It’s completely understandable to feel frustrated, angry, or saddened by a partner’s addiction.
What started out as a 1-time experiment or occasional event may have evolved into a spiraling cycle of abuse. Sometimes, people aren’t aware their partner has developed an addiction.
Perhaps some of the ways their addiction harmed your relationship in the past may have included:
- Suggesting to do activities that encouraged drinking or drug use
- Having episodes of aggressive, volatile, or violent behavior when they drank or used drugs
- Becoming isolated from you, their family, friends, and coworkers
- Having trouble relating to you on an emotional, psychological, or physical level
Even after your partner decides to get help, it’s tough to rebuild the broken bonds from destructive behaviors caused by substance abuse. But seeking treatment for an addiction might be the best decision your partner could make for your relationship.
There are several key ways you can support your partner through their recovery. It may take some patience, forgiveness, and trust on your part. But in the end, your support can help them shed their toxic abuse patterns for good.
During Rehab: Your Role In Your Partner’s Recovery
Now that your partner has entered rehab, it’s okay to breathe a sigh of relief. You can feel comfort in knowing that your partner has recognized their problem and taken the first steps toward recovery.
During the first few days of inpatient rehab, contact with your partner may be limited. This is because your partner will likely be participating in a detox program that will set the course of their treatment plan. Once they finish detox, you should be able to get in touch with your partner again.
While your partner is in rehab,
- Do take part in any visitation events held by the center.
- Do keep all conversations, in person or over the phone, focused on the positives.
- Do learn everything you can about your partner’s addiction.
- Don’t become too wrapped up in your partner’s treatment process. Be sure to give your partner some space to heal on their own.
- Don’t bring up past mistakes during phone or in-person conversations.
- Don’t try to be your partner’s only source for support. Your partner likely has other family and friends who will play a part in their recovery.
Many rehabs offer counseling support for couples while their partner is in treatment. During these sessions, a counselor will help you and your partner form new ways of expressing feelings and communicating effectively. You and your partner will also learn how to identify unhealthy behaviors that may have led to your partner’s substance abuse.
Although your partner’s recovery may be at the forefront of your mind, make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. Take some time to do some activities that you enjoy, like a hobby or a sport. Treat yourself to an item you’ve wanted to purchase for a while, or buy plane tickets to visit an old friend.
After Treatment: Rebuilding The Relationship
Upon your partner’s return from rehab, it’s time to start the recovery process – not just for your partner, but for you as well. Without taking the time to lay the groundwork for your relationship’s new beginning, you and your partner are at risk for more obstacles later on.
A relationship ravaged by addiction cannot be turned around overnight. It’ll take some time before things start to feel normal again.
Mending your relationship after an addiction is 100% possible. Here are some ways to encourage better chances of a successful relationship recovery.
Continue To See A Couples Therapist In Your Community.
Attending sessions with a therapist can make a huge difference in you and your partner’s recovery. Your therapist will show you and your partner additional ways of communicating and handling conflicts as they arise.
Identify Potential Triggers That Could Tempt Your Partner To Abuse Substances Again.
Does your partner have a family member or friend who may have encouraged their addiction? Or maybe your partner works in a stressful job environment? There are many ways your partner could succumb to a relapse after their hard work during treatment. Try to work with your partner to remove those triggers.
Come Up With Fun, Substance-Free Activities You And Your Partner Can Do Together.
Visit the zoo or aquarium, or get tickets to a concert or sports game for you and your partner to enjoy. Now is the time to remind each other why you fell in love in the first place.
Stay Honest With Each Other.
Be willing to talk about the tough issues with your partner – no subject should be off limits. Think about the way things may have been before the addiction started and what changes you would like to see in the relationship. Remember, changes cannot occur if they aren’t spoken.
One Step At A Time
The road to recovery can be a long and winding one for relationships that have endured addiction. But many couples have found success by working through the bumps in the road. As your partner heals, so too will your relationship.