What to do if your partner is addicted

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Relationships can be complicated. You need to build them carefully and diligently, compromising, planning and rearranging your life in order to intertwine it with someone else’s. Whether it’s a friend, a roommate, a spouse, parents or siblings, you need to invest time and effort to make your interaction mutually beneficial. This way, it’s entirely normal to see that your personal problems influence your loved ones as well.

The level of impact, however, can be quite significant. While a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink can trigger an argument, life-turning issues life drug addiction can damage the relationship irreparably unless approached in the right way.

Addiction affects all relationships

Substance abuse and addiction are often hard to notice and pinpoint. They develop gradually and affect physical and mental health in a way that makes it easy to justify using and deny addiction. It’s possible because addictive substances trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, responsible for motivation and the feeling of pleasure. Dopamine is required to reinforce positive and beneficial behaviors like eating and exercising. When dopamine is produced under the chemical influence of drugs, the decision-making mechanism in the brain becomes predisposed to choose the destructive habit regardless of the consequences.

A person might not even be aware of their addiction for some time, and the majority of people are prone to hiding it when they finally realize there is a problem. Consequently, spouses and partners may be unaware of their beloved’s abuse for years into the relationship. It adds up to the biggest problem by contributing to secretive behavior, lying and even stealing. The situation only gets worse when both partners struggle with addiction.

Mending a relationship while managing an addiction can be an extremely difficult task. Fortunately, there are services that offer rehab for couples (more information here) and focus specifically on allowing partners to go through the treatment together, reach the recovery and strengthen their bond.

The difference between supporting and enabling

Support is crucial for those suffering from drug abuse. Addiction puts a wall between a person and their family, creating the delusion of being alone in their struggles. Distancing yourself from your loved one or scolding them for making a poor choice won’t help them start moving towards recovery. On the contrary, it is likely to weaken their motivation to stop using, which is frequently powered by the desire to save the relationship.

On the other hand, what you see as support might, in fact, turn out to be harmful. Taking on extra responsibilities for your partner, justifying their use or giving them money that you know they’re likely to spend on drugs allow them to forget about the consequences of their abuse and act as a discouragement from seeking treatment. Moreover, you can get addicted to such behavior as well. You may perceive enabling as helping, and taking care of your loved one feels good.

Drug rehab for families and couples rehab devote a lot of time to teaching family members, spouses or partners the right ways to show support, exclude enabling and promote healthy encouragement of beneficial behaviors. Therefore, if you feel lost and unsure about how to cope with your partner’s abuse or even recovery on its initial stages, you might want to give one of such programs a try.

How can you help your partner overcome addiction?

1.    Avoid denial

The first step towards recovery is acknowledgement of the problem. Addiction is surrounded by a massive stigma, and it can be scary to accept the fact that the person closest to you is addicted. If your partner doesn’t openly admit to abusing drugs, it’s easier to stay blind and ignore the signs. However, pretending that the problem doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. Thus, the best option is to approach the person in a non-judgmental way, express your concerns for their well-being and initiate an honest conversation.

2.    Don’t allow enabling

Enabling can be as harmful as ignoring the problem altogether. It creates a comfortable environment for the addicted, freeing them from responsibilities and removing the possibility of experiencing some of the consequences. Enabling is often mistaken for support, and while it may be done with your partner’s best interests in mind, it hurts way more than it helps.

3.    Educate yourself

Addiction is terrifying on its own and even more so when you don’t have a clear idea of what exactly is going on with your partner. It can be helpful to familiarize yourself with basic concepts of what addiction is, how it develops and how it is treated. You can find plenty of reliable sources online, talk to the families who overcame the same issue, consult with a medical professional or attend a meeting of one of the support groups.

4.    Take care of yourself

Addiction is a family disease, meaning it affects you and your whole household just like it affects your addicted partner. You might develop anxiety, depression, fear, and other self-destructive feelings because of the necessity to deal with this problem every day. That’s why proper self-care is essential. You need to be able to focus on yourself without feeling guilty for taking a break from caring for your partner, attend to your health and needs.

In addition, some people refuse treatment even though they are aware of how detrimental their addiction is to their family. It’s important to determine your limits and draw a line. Although support, love, and compassion often allow couples to get through this, drugs can give rise to verbal or physical abuse, serious financial problems and other issues and behaviors that you can’t tolerate. It’s painful but necessary to understand when enough is enough.

5.    Discuss rehab options

Your partner might promise you to quit and truly strive to do so, but such withdrawal usually ends in a relapse or even hospitalization. Rehabilitation has to be complex in order to be successful. First of all, detox is required to expel the substance from a person’s system. In most cases, it’s impossible to go through this stage without medications to ease severe withdrawal symptoms during the period of body’s readjustment to its natural state of being. Then, various types of therapy may be applied to help the patient overcome the psychological dependence and learn to live without drugs.

The approaches during the therapy vary in accordance with the patient’s specific needs. For instance, women-only rehab might be more beneficial and comfortable for some women, since it allows to open up about gender-specific problems and receive a high level of understanding. Similarly, specialists at a drug rehab for married couples aim to help spouses work through their relationship issues, learn how to cope with the addiction and support each other.

Although it’s not the best option for everyone, couples drug rehab is suitable for those who feel more secure sharing their feelings with their loved one. It allows you to be with your partner during the toughest period of their life, helps avoid losing the connection during the rehab and equips you with healthy mechanisms of interaction that can improve your relationship as a whole.

About the author

Thanush Poulsen is a Danish blogger who touches the social topics many are afraid to talk about. His writings aim to raise people’s awareness of various social issues which often are kept silent.

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