When substance use disorder (SUD) progresses to the point where you decide that you need to seek help for your condition, you often have many intersecting responsibilities and obligations. It most likely will never feel like the “right time.” Unfortunately, addiction is not considerate of your time.
This might look like “hitting pause” at the beginning of a promising career or at the height of a successful and well-established career. It might take the form of stepping away from furthering one’s education when balancing classes and treatment becomes too much. There might be children to raise or other family members to provide for. It is hard to make the decision to pursue treatment when there are so many things to juggle.
If you are in a romantic relationship with someone when it comes time for treatment, this can also pose complications. It might leave you with various questions that are difficult to grapple with. Can we stay together? What will our lives look like after treatment? How can I take care of my partner during this time?
Treatment Is Best for Everyone
The people that we choose to engage with romantically are often the most meaningful relationships in our lives. It can be daunting to think of how to keep them close while going through treatment. The path to recovery is often unclear, especially at the beginning, and it can mean leaving a lot behind. It can feel like there is a lot at stake when entering recovery; however, the alternative is riskier. Not seeking treatment can almost certainly spell disaster for everything important in our lives.
Entering recovery for your SUD is the best thing you can do for your romantic partner. It is likely that in the midst of your addiction you are not the best version of yourself. Due to the nature of the disease, you may act in ways you would never have dreamed of before. You most likely don’t treat yourself the way you deserve, which can carry over into other relationships. As loving and supportive as your partner may be, it is a difficult position for them to be in as well. If you want to maintain that relationship during recovery, investing yourself in treatment is an investment in your relationships.
How Treatment Helps Relationships
Treatment not only provides an opportunity for you to redirect your life, but it also provides opportunities for you to collaborate with the important people in your life. Finding a provider who offers couples or family therapy can help both you and your partner to address how addiction has changed both your lives and how to recover together.
Having positive relationships is essential to well-being, whether you struggle with substance abuse or not. While not limited to romantic relationships, research suggests that positive social relationships are critical in maintaining sobriety. Treatment can give you the tools to make necessary changes, and support from positive relationships can augment those tools.
Which Relationships to Help
With that said, there are some considerations to make about continuing romantic relationships. It is essential to create an environment that fosters sobriety. Maintaining recovery is made more difficult if temptations and triggers constantly greet you. Leaving treatment can be jarring when it means returning to an environment with the same circumstances that perpetuated your addiction. If your romantic partner is part of that unhealthy environment and is a threat to your recovery, it might be time to part ways. This is a crucial discussion to have with your treatment provider.
Supporting Your Loved One
If your romantic partner is the one seeking treatment, you might be wondering how you can help them. This is a major transitional period for your partner and for your relationship. It involves learning to cope with the reality of no longer using substances, and this carries with it intense physical, emotional, and psychological struggles. They will most likely have to confront things they regret and are ashamed of in their past.
It is a difficult process, and one of the most important things you can do is be patient with them. Some people may find it extremely beneficial to discuss what they are going through, while that may not be the right solution for others. Honoring that preference can create a sensation of safety for your loved one. You won’t understand everything they are going through, and that is okay. It is still possible to be empathetic and recognize the complexity of the situation. Understanding their treatment goals and the process can help you better support them. If possible, getting involved in couples or family therapy can empower you to help more effectively.
Focusing on clear communication is essential. When conversations get out of hand, one way to reel them in is with “I” statements. This is a reframing of potentially accusatory statements to better reach mutual understanding. For example, instead of saying, “You aren’t listening to me,” you can say, “I feel like I am not being heard.” You should be able to voice your concerns, and avoiding blame can make those conversations easier.
It is crucial to remember to take care of yourself as well. You should be treated with respect and dignity, and a mental health or substance abuse condition does not negate that. It is likely that this situation will bring up some complicated emotions for you, and it is important to speak with a mental health professional to address these concerns.
Addiction can take a lot away from you. One of the hardest things about the process might involve seeing your meaningful relationships crumble when you feel powerless to stop it. Substance abuse can cause you to do and say things that are hurtful to the people you love and that you deeply regret. That is why it is essential not only for you but for the people you love to take back your life and get the help you need. There is help available to free you from addiction. Family-Centered Services is guided by the mission of helping individuals and their loved ones regain control over their lives and relationships. Our team of licensed mental health professionals brings an abundance of experience to your care and will get to know your specific goals and needs. Call (509) 991-5822 to learn about how our services can guide you to recovery.