The stressors of addiction are similar to the ripple effect a stone makes when a person tosses it into a body of water. Often, the addict is convinced that their addiction hurts only them, but this could not be farther from the truth.
Maintaining an intimate relationship with a spouse or partner struggling with addiction is challenging for even the most patient of people. Substance abuse will easily break down a partnership’s trust and a couple’s communication, tearing their relationship apart in a tumultuous cloud of discourse.
Needless to say, supporting a partner that is struggling with addiction is a challenging task, but it is not impossible. Take a moment to read through this brief summary of a few of the best ways to support a partner that is fighting addiction.
Understand the difference between supporting and enabling
It is extremely important as a partner to an addicted spouse to understand the fine line between supporting and enabling. Giving an addict the money to go and purchase their drug of choice to keep them from feeling the pains of detox is enabling.
It is understandable that sometimes withdrawal is a life or death situation, but that is the time when safe detox should be offered. Continual financial support for an addict is equivalent to a free pass to continue using and abusing drugs.
The rules of engagement when speaking to an addicted spouse
The rules of engagement when speaking with an addict are a bit different than other communication. Blame has to be set aside in any conversation. Addiction is a disease and not a moral shortcoming or lack of willpower.
A few general rules to remember when speaking with an addicted partner are:
- Never try to talk about anything while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Leave judgement outside of the conversation
- Avoid bringing up past incidents. The best way to restate the recurring nature of a spouses behavior is to say something to the effect of, “This isn’t the first time this has happened.”
Forgiveness must be a household standard
Forgiveness has to be a household standard when living with an addict or alcoholic. Substance abuse changes people for the worst, and that aspect of addiction will never change. The addict mind has a whole lot of pain and anger hiding behind their outward projections.
Know that sobriety will change the relationship
No matter how long an addict has been using, their drug of choice will change their demeanor. Sobriety is a new beginning, and it will change the dynamic of the partnership. It could be that two partners find that they no longer have the same interest in one another. Sobriety may lead to a new discovery of love. Either way, it helps to be mentally prepared for the shift.