Tips to Help You and Your Partner Cope With Addiction

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Relationships can be tough to handle in the best of times and circumstances.  But when you factor in addiction issues, any relationship can be compromised.  While it’s true that every partnership is different, there are certain pain points that need proactive attention. 

You might think you have a perfect relationship, but maybe you have this sinking feeling that your partner is embroiled in an addictive pattern.  Or, perhaps you feel your bond is genuinely suffering from the effects of an addictive behavior.  In either case, here are some tips to help you and your partner cope with addiction in the relationship.

Get Honest With Each Other

If your partner is obviously struggling with addiction, then the first step on your agenda as a helpmate should be to improve communication in your relationship. This isn’t going to happen overnight.  The prospect of having open, heartfelt discussions about a partner’s addictions can be harrowing at best.  That’s why it’s smart to start out with small, bite-sized conversations.

Above all else, agree to be honest with each other.  Assure your partner that his or her best interest is at the heart of your discussion.  Encourage conversation by being supportive and understanding.  Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes, and think about the best tact to take when talking about the addiction.

Avoid Pointing Fingers

If you are living with or have a committed relationship with someone who is an addict, the last thing you want to do is to lay blame.  Partners with addictive behaviors tend to be extremely sensitive to guilt trips and they may revolt if they feel they are being shamed.

Counteract this potentially volatile scenario by approaching your mate with compassion and respect.  Reassure your mate that you are there for him or her.  However, cite how your partner is exhibiting unbalanced behavior and calmly encourage him or her to see how this is impacting the relationship. 

Better yet, highlight how your partner’s addiction is making you feel.  This should not be done in a guilt-driven way, and do not play the martyr.  Rather, use language like “I feel less connected to you when you are using” or, “I feel so much better and safer with you when you are not drinking.”

Assess and Encourage Outside Support

Once you have opened up healthy channels of communication without blame or guilt, it’s time to reassess the situation.  This means identifying a time to discuss different types of treatment if needed.  Because addiction is such a sensitive issue, you may have to approach this prospect delicately with your partner.

For instance, if the problem is progressive and extreme, you may want to encourage your partner to admit him or herself into 60-day rehab treatment.  Do research on a treatment plan like this before discussing it with our mate.  Point out the advantages of checking into such a program, and cite how this could be a relationship-saving move for you both.

You may also want to coax your partner into joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.  Show your support by volunteering to attend Al-Anon meetings, which support non-alcoholic family members and partners going through the recovery process.

You may also suggest the idea of therapy or couples counseling when helping you and your partner survive addiction. There is an array of different psychological services available both online and offline that helps partners identify addictive behaviors.  Furthermore, these services can help you both understand and cope when dealing with addictions.

Respect Your Needs

Up until this point, we’ve offered a spectrum of suggestions for you to be understanding and compassionate towards your partner through his or her addiction issues in order to save the relationship.  That being said, there may come a moment when you must do what is best for you.  Above all else, you must not compromise your safety or long-term well-being for the sake of saving the relationship.

If your mate’s addictions are out of control, and you feel your life is in danger, then it is time to pull the plug and protect yourself.  Do not sacrifice yourself or your wellbeing for the sake of your partner or the relationship.  At the end of the day, you can only do so much to help your mate survive addiction.  When you have extinguished all your options, it might be time to rethink the partnership altogether.

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