When a partner has a substance use disorder, there’s a lot of mistrust. There’s a lot of lying and hiding which damages the intimacy, connection, and faith in the relationship. Afterward, all of that has to be repaired.

When you’re in recovery and in a relationship, the person with the addiction, the partner, and the relationship all need recovering. 

What’s Going On?

When you love someone who has an addiction, all of a sudden your world closes in and all you can think of is how you’re going to get them to stop drinking. First, you’re looking for an explanation and you make excuses whether they are grief or big life changes. Then you think that if you just love them enough, they would show up. 

Self-doubt also happens because there’s that story in your mind of how it’s going to work out and then it doesn’t. Many partners who are dealing with someone who is struggling with a substance abuse disorder also experience self-abandonment. You want to care for your partner and it takes all of your attention.

Steps in You and Your Partner’s Journey Towards Recovery

1. Consider going to a third-party or relationship counselor.

When you’re trying to do it all alone as the addict’s partner, your behavior can also worsen. You could become defensive or end up nagging and being too argumentative. There’s all this emotional wrangling that happens inside of, making it easy for your partner to point at your behavior as being too stressful for them. They might also complain that you’re not compassionate and lack understanding. However, when you have a third party that comes into the conversation, they’re able to bring perspective and ask the right questions that aren’t as emotionally charged. 

2. Educate yourself about your partner’s substance abuse disorder.

Educate yourself as much as you can about what’s happening, how it’s a disease, and how it affects relationships. Understand that sobriety in the early stages is very difficult because sobriety and recovery are two different things.

3. Hire your own therapist to help you deal with this.

When you don’t fully understand what is happening and it’s all new to you, consider getting your own therapist. This situation can be a huge personal challenge for you as well and having a professional to help you understand what’s happening to you is helpful.

If you want to learn more about how you can help your partner struggling with substance abuse disorder, check out Episode 129: Love without Martinis with Chantal Jauvin.