Living With a Partner Struggling With Addiction
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It can be an extremely painful thing to watch someone you love struggle with addiction. This is perhaps even more painful when this person is your partner and someone you live with and possibly even have children with. If this is your situation, you may be feeling helpless and alone. You may feel completely powerless and as if there is nothing you can do to change your current reality. While this may seem like a hopeless time, there are things that you can do to try to encourage your partner to seek treatment. It’s also important to remember to find moments for yourself and practice self-care during this time. 

Confront Your Partner About Their Substance Use 

There are a lot of reasons why spouses sometimes go a long period of time without confronting their partner about their substance misuse. They might be afraid that they will become angry or defensive. Or they may worry that it will cause damage to their relationship. In other situations, they may say something to their partner about their substance use but only in passing. Or they may even make jokes about it because they are too afraid to reveal how they really feel. If you are concerned about your partner’s substance use, it’s crucial to have a serious sit-down conversation with them about it. 

Before confronting your partner, take the time to plan out what you’re going to say. This is important because you don’t want to accidentally say something that you don’t really mean while in the heat of the moment. You’ll also want to look into local treatment options and gather information about them. This way, you can present these materials to your partner during your conversation with them. 

When you confront your partner, do it in a private room where they will feel comfortable and won’t be overheard. Start by telling them that you’re coming to them from a place of love and not judgment or anger. Explain to them how their substance misuse makes you feel and encourage them to seek the help that they need. They may not be receptive at first, and they may deny that they need help. If this is the case, don’t let it dissuade you. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Set Boundaries 

Ideally, your partner will see where you are coming from and agree to get the help that they need. Be sure that you support them throughout this process. If this is not the case and they repeatedly refuse to seek treatment, then it may be time for you to consider setting some boundaries. This doesn’t involve making threats, but instead, it is stating clearly what you are and are not comfortable with. It also involves stating what you are not going to stand for moving forward. 

Some examples of this include: 

  • “I’m not comfortable being around you while you’re under the influence.” 
  • “You can not be alone with our kids when you are under the influence.” 
  • “I will not tolerate disrespect or name-calling.” 
  • “I’m not going to tolerate drugs in my household.” 
  • “If you try to cast blame on me for your problems, I will not engage in the conversation.”

Part of setting boundaries also involves making sure that you are not doing anything to enable your partner. What this means is that you’re not doing anything to make it easier for them to engage in substance misuse without facing any repercussions. Some examples of how you can make this clear to them include: 

  • “If you get into legal trouble, I won’t bail you out of jail or arrange for an attorney for you.”
  • “I will not pick up the slack for you around the house.” 
  • “If you lose your job due to substance use, I will not loan you money or support you financially.” 
  • “I will not make excuses for your behavior.” 
  • “I’m not going to hide your substance use from others.”

It is important to note that in the case that your partner ever puts you in any sort of danger or becomes aggressive or violent, you need to reach out to the proper officials for help. They can help protect you and find safe housing. 

Put Yourself First 

You cannot attempt to help someone else without taking care of yourself first. This involves investing in your mental and physical health. Make sure that you are eating regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and practicing healthy coping mechanisms for stress. You should also fit some sort of self-care into your daily routine. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a counselor to help you begin processing your feelings during this time. 

It’s hard to watch your partner struggling with a substance use disorder. It’s normal to feel helpless and as if there is no hope of ever getting out of this current reality. However, there are things that you can do to help convince your partner to seek treatment. This involves sitting down and having an open conversation about your concerns and how their substance use is affecting you. You can provide them with the necessary resources to reach out for help. If your partner refuses to get help, don’t be afraid to set boundaries with them and make it clear that you won’t tolerate their behavior. Make sure to take care of yourself during this time. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today to learn more about our services.