Supporting an addicted partner is challenging, even in the strongest relationships. When your partner is suffering from addiction, or even pursuing recovery, you need to be careful while you offer support so that you don’t end up enabling them.
Your support can make all of the difference when it comes to your partner’s recovery and overall well-being, but how can you do it without enabling their problem (or harming yourself in the process)?
We’re here to help guide you. Keep reading to learn all about how you can support your partner who’s suffering from drug addiction.
Are You Supporting or Enabling?
Many people with partners who are managing drug addictions think that they’re being helpful when they’re not. There’s a fine line between supporting an addicted partner and enabling them.
When you support someone, you’re helping them be their best self. You’re encouraging them to get better without folding or bending to their desires.
When you enable it, however, you can create more problems.
You’ve probably already broached the topic of recovery or addiction treatment. Many addicts get defensive over this, but if you fold, you’re showing your partner that this is okay.
You need to learn how to set firm boundaries, hold honest conversations without judgment, and let your partner know that there are consequences to their actions.
Enabling your partner is tempting because it makes them happier and more comfortable. It may seem like it improves your relationship or like it’s the best choice, but this isn’t true.
By enabling your partner, you’re telling them that they don’t need to recover. Why would they if you aren’t objecting to their behavior?
Boundaries are difficult even in healthy conversations, but learning to set boundaries is a crucial skill if you want to protect yourself and strengthen your bond with your partner.
Boundaries protect you and your partner from codependency. When you’re codependent, you aren’t able to extricate yourself from their situation. You may find yourself getting enmeshed, which will damage your mental health and leave you unable to distance yourself if you have to.
Healthy boundaries vary from relationship to relationship, but when your partner is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there will be a few common threads. Make sure that you voice these boundaries to your partner so that you’re on the same page.
Let your partner know that you aren’t willing to engage with them while they’re under the influence (and stick with it). Not only does this give them the motivation to cut back or seek help, but it also prevents fights.
If you live together, let them know that you don’t allow drugs in the house. Disallow other drug users as well.
Tell your partner how you expect to be treated. In all relationships, it’s healthy to set boundaries around yelling, bad language, and fighting.
Remember, boundaries aren’t ultimatums. You’re telling your partner what kind of behavior you accept, not telling them what to do. While there will be consequences to disrespecting boundaries, they’re based on your feelings.
Open and Honest Conversation
While you’re discussing boundaries with your partner, you’re going to need to have an open conversation that’s free of judgment. Getting aggressive or accusatory isn’t helpful because it puts your partner on the defense.
Use “I” language instead of “you” language. You can also use some “we” language to let your partner know that you’re working on this as a team.
Ask your partner about their feelings instead of making assumptions or telling them how they feel. If you need to bring up something that’s happened in the past, make sure that you avoid specific events. It’s not helpful if your partner thinks that you’re keeping score.
Don’t accept excuses for your partner’s behavior. Again, it’s tempting to keep the peace by allowing your partner to do as they please, but this is hurting them. You also need to make sure that you’re not making excuses for their behavior when you discuss the issue with friends and family members.
You can include other people into these conversations from time to time, but don’t gang up on your partner or make them feel isolated.
Creating an Action Plan Together
You may have to look for recovery options alone when you’re just getting started. Before you spring the topic of treatment on your partner, do some research.
You can look into the best ways to encourage treatment, the first steps, and local treatment facilities in your area. When you have this information, bring it to your partner during another open conversation.
Let your partner know that you’ve done all of this for them and that you want to work together to find a solution. Remember, your partner is not your adversary (even if they get combative).
Discuss your options with your partner and start moving forward.
Taking Care of Yourself
You can not take care of your partner if you’re not taking care of yourself as well. This is difficult for many people to hear, especially if they’ve spent a long time in a codependent relationship or making excuses for their partner.
Make sure that you check in with yourself. Take breaks and don’t be afraid to take a trip or distance yourself if you’re feeling too overwhelmed.
There are support groups available for people who are in relationships with people who are suffering from addiction. You can also seek your own therapist or counselor for help.
Supporting an Addicted Partner Is Difficult, But You Can Do It
You want the best for your partner, and that means that you need to show support. Supporting an addicted partner without enabling them is tough, but if you use this article as a guide, you’ll have the tools to get started.
Work together with your partner and support them through their recovery. This period will be tough, but your relationship will be stronger for it.
Is your partner ready to start their journey toward recovery? We want to help.
At Safe & Sound Treatment in Costa Mesa, our compassionate team will create a treatment plan for your partner. From detox to outpatient treatment, we’ll guide your loved one to recovery.
Learn about our admissions process and contact us today to get started.