People can enter into addiction at any stage of their life. They might be happily married to their high school sweetheart and not fall victim until 20 years in, or they might become dependent during college while going on dates and trying to form connections.
For those that have struggled with addiction or have been in relationships with people who have substance use problems, it’s well-known just how difficult maintaining a healthy and happy relationship is. No matter how much you love your partner, addiction will always feel like it’s stealing your partner away.
Learning how to navigate a healthy relationship while dealing with alcohol or drug addiction is almost as much work as working on your addiction. Drug or alcohol addiction and the destructive behavior it can cause can impact a relationship just as much as a relationship can impact a person’s addiction. To benefit one, the other must be worked on simultaneously.
Keep reading to learn more about navigating a healthy partnership during addiction by understanding how to maintain good behaviors and communicate appropriately.
The Reality of Substance Abuse and Relationships
Many people can recount their relationships with family members, friends, or partners lost due to substance abuse and its impact on mental health.
Unfortunately, many people who struggle with addiction will have a story about someone that is no longer a part of their life because of their substance use. That person may have had to draw healthy boundaries to meet their own needs instead of focusing solely on another person’s addiction recovery.
Addiction does not hold back and can convince you to do many things that are not good for your well-being. While substance abuse is extremely difficult to deal with as an addict, addiction also affects the person in a relationship with the abuser.
Partners of addicted people often experience intense anxiety about their safety and health, might financially struggle if they are supporting their loved one, and feel guilt about facilitating addiction or not intervening successfully. These issues make it difficult to set boundaries and can lay the foundation for an unhealthy relationship.
The cycle of guilt and sorrow that forms with addiction can seem never-ending. This weighs heavily on a partnership. Often, the partner of someone with substance abuse must also do what is best for them and their health, and that can be leaving the relationship to work on finding happiness.
This difficult decision can mean negative reactions from the person struggling, resulting in a spiral, but it’s the reality for many. This is why healthy relationships and patterns are important. If you cannot practice healthy habits, you might not be ready to be in a relationship until you learn to take better care of your well-being.
Challenges That Addiction Brings
When in a relationship with someone struggling with addiction, many unique challenges may arise that a normal relationship pairing wouldn’t quite understand. Of course, in any normal, healthy relationship, issues come and go. Addiction makes things tricky.
Normal healthy partners aren’t constantly worried that their partner is potentially in danger or harm every time they go out. They might not have to take care of finances, bills, rent, food, child care, or schooling alone and might have better communication and trust. These are all issues that can arise in a relationship involving addiction.
Lack of Trust
For people struggling with addiction, lying and being deceitful might come with the territory. This can cause many issues in a relationship, but the implications can be much more dangerous when drugs and other substances are involved. A lack of trust can form between two people when substance abuse becomes prevalent.
A lot of denial goes into addiction, and it’s very hard for someone with substance use disorder to be truthful about their using habits and other aspects of their life. They might lie about where they are going, who they are going out with, where certain money is going, how their job or school is doing, and so much more.
These lies can add up and become overwhelming. Not only are they difficult to keep track of, but they diminish your trust in your partner, which is detrimental to a relationship.
With substance use disorder comes financial issues. Drugs and alcohol cost money, and things can sure get expensive. In an equal relationship, money and finances must be a part of daily communication to function as a partnership.
With addiction, money can seem to fly out the door. There can be an imbalance of power when an addicted partner uses money their partner has earned and uses it to support them.
This kind of struggle can be overwhelming and lead to further issues in the relationship. It can sever trust and prevent people from helping you in the future.
Not only are there safety concerns for the partner addicted to substances, but also for the partner who is not. You can cross paths with many people when you get involved with drugs and other substances. Some people might get into financial trouble with others as a result of their use, and this can be a concern for their partner.
Additionally, drugs and alcohol can push someone into dangerous situations where they could seriously harm themselves or others, including instances of physical abuse. No one should have to put themselves at risk due to another person’s drug use, and in many cases, the danger is what really drives people away.
Emotional Connection and Instability
On top of safety and finances, relationships are hard work. People crave intimacy and emotional connections with their partners, which isn’t always given when a person struggles with substance abuse. It’s difficult to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t putting all of their energy into it and is actively creating more distance due to drug use.
Someone using drugs and alcohol might not be fully present in a relationship until they have done work for themselves to enter into recovery. In contrast, the addicted partner might also struggle with codependency and rely on their partner completely.
This partner may suffer from low self-esteem due to their addiction and experience an inability to practice healthy self-care. Until they want to change and seek help, you may not see a stable and healthy relationship form.
Learning To Create Balance
To maintain a healthy relationship while struggling with addiction, it may come as no surprise that you need to work really hard. Finding someone who supports you throughout your recovery process is essential.
Still, you need to put in the work too! You can’t expect your partner to do everything for you and support you through everything if you aren’t trying your hardest to get better.
Recovery comes first
You can only maintain balance if you are actively working towards recovery. Recovery needs to be your main goal because the only true way for your relationship to prosper and be healthy is for you to find a solution to your addiction-related issues. Your partner will need to see that you are doing the work, so they know all of their efforts are worth it.
For people in a relationship with someone struggling with addiction, you have to allow them to focus on their recovery. Supporting them, showing up for them, and holding them accountable can help them throughout the process, even if it’s difficult.
This will give them additional confidence in themselves to overcome their addiction, knowing their loved ones are behind them.
Open and Consistent Communication
One of the biggest issues of having a relationship with someone in active addiction is lying and deceit. A way to combat this is to work on open and honest communication. Once you disrupt the trust your partner has been building with you, you can begin to see the cracks form in the relationship.
When you are open in your communication, you don’t need to hide your struggles from your partner. You can communicate your issues and not feel alone trying to deal with them. One of the many benefits of being in a partnership is that you have someone who will be on your side, and with addiction, the more people in your corner, the more likely you are to be successful.
Lead With Kindness
Being in a relationship while struggling with addiction can show your partner the really dark sides of you. You may have to remind yourself that they have your best interest in mind and that how you feel in a moment isn’t necessarily how you feel about your partner.
If you are thoughtful in your reactions to each other and situations that arise, you are more likely to overcome them with grace. Recovery is not easy on anyone, but it’s absolutely worth the few bumps in the road that it comes with. You and your partner will look back one day and know that the love and respect for each other were always there and just waiting to blossom!
Starting a New Relationship During Addiction
It’s not recommended to seek out a new relationship when struggling with addiction. If you are going to try to enter the recovery stage, you need to focus on yourself.
Recovery is not easy, and being by yourself can help keep you more focused on your goals. You might be more vulnerable during this stage of your life, and trying to enter into a relationship could give you further complications.
Reach Out for Help With Soba Recovery
Having your partner’s support can mean so much in your recovery journey, but getting professional help will push you deeper into recovery. If you are serious about recovery from the effects of drug or alcohol addiction, you can get help at Soba Recovery Center in San Antonio, Texas! You can access 24/7 around-the-clock care from treatment providers who want to see you thrive.
One thing about a partnership is that you often have many shared responsibilities within your household and in your relationship. Not everyone can drop everything and enter into inpatient care, but that doesn’t mean you can’t access care. Reach out to a representative to learn more about the following services that Soba provides to learn how you can get help today!
Inpatient Treatment Programs
For those struggling with addiction and needing more care than others, inpatient services are highly recommended. You get access to medically-assisted addiction treatment if you need it, both individual and group therapy and support group sessions, and a sober and supportive community. Inpatient services allow you to be around others struggling with the same problems.
At Soba, you build relationships with medical professionals and the community around you. 24/7 care allows you to get support whenever you need it, which can benefit many struggling people.
Not everyone can drop what they are doing and enter into inpatient care. Outpatient care offers a solution to this issue. If you have commitments you cannot abandon, you can work with an outpatient program to develop a specialized treatment plan.
Outpatient services still offer therapy, group sessions, activities, and other treatment services to people who need more flexibility when receiving it. Depending on your work or school schedule, you can come in the mornings or late at night.
While living apart from your significant other might not be the goal, sober living can be helpful for some who are in recovery. When you live in a sober facility, you are eliminating the stressors of the outside world, where drug abuse and alcohol abuse could bring an anxiety-inducing situation.
Sober living spaces are supportive of your needs during recovery and give you a space that should be stress-free. Once you can get back out into the real world, you can build even more on your partnership. This time apart might just be what they need to see that you are serious about making strides in your recovery process!
A healthy relationship takes time as it is, but with addiction, it might take a bit longer. There’s no shame in that! Take all the time you need and build up your trust and communication to see your relationship flourish.
Romantic Relationships And Substance Use In Early Adulthood: An Examination Of The Influences Of Relationship Type, Partner Substance Use, And Relationship Quality | NCBI.NIH.gov
Substance Abuse and Intimate Relationships | American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
How Social Relationships Influence Substance Use Disorder Recovery: A Collaborative Narrative Study | NCBI