There’s nothing harder than seeing the person you care for the most struggling with an addiction. If your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, partner or someone you love dearly is in the midst of a substance use disorder, it can feel like you’re walking on eggshells while trying to move a mountain.
The good news is that your support can make a real difference. Here’s what you can do to help your partner overcome an addiction every step of the way, from withdrawal to lifelong sobriety.
Understanding your role
The first task of helping your loved one is to learn where you stand. While there are many things you can do to help your loved one, the decision to get sober isn’t something that can be forced. It’s not up to you to convince your partner to get clean. Only a personal commitment to sobriety will be realistic and sustainable.
So, before you blame yourself for any missteps or relapses, know that each and every time your loved one seeks out drugs or alcohol, it’s not your fault. Even if a fight over treatment between the two of you was the stimulus to relapse, your partner had options other than substance use to handle the distress.
Knowing the boundary between helping and enabling
It’s not uncommon for loved ones to be so desperate to help that their aid actually interferes in recovery. This is called “enabling” and we often behave in this way without realizing it. Enabling is the act of preventing someone from experiencing the consequences of his or her actions.
For example, if you find yourself calling into your husband’s office and making excuses for his absence when he’s unable to work because he’s high, the lack of consequences at work enables the behavior to continue.
Likewise, if your girlfriend is always short on money because she’s constantly buying drugs, lending her money only encourages borrowing money in the future. Keeping our actions in check is easier said than done, but allowing the natural repercussions of addiction to play out can help the recovery process.
One of the most helpful things you can do for a person in recovery is to take care of yourself. The process of detox is fraught with chemical changes in the brain which result in major mood swings, and your own emotional stability can be a safehouse for someone who feels like their mood is out of control.
In order to be that rock for your loved one, you’ll need to set some clear limits for your own well-being. Whether this means joining a support group for family members of addicts or taking time for yourself every day is up to you. Boundaries will help both of you in the long run.
Provide comfort in physical distress
The first days and weeks of sobriety are accompanied by a period called withdrawal. This is when the body is expelling the remaining toxins from drugs and alcohol and becoming accustomed to a system without them.
Since the body is so familiar to functioning with drugs, the physical transition can be excruciating. One of the best ways to help your partner in this tough time is to alleviate symptoms whenever possible.
Of course, the best way to manage withdrawal is in a medically supervised facility designed to help with this stage of recovery. Feel free to make the first call for treatment with your loved one.
Encourage continuing treatment
It’s worth reiterating that it’s never your job to ensure that your loved one stays in professional treatment. You can offer support along the way, but your partner has to make recovery their own for it to work. While you can’t coerce someone into continuing services, you can show your support.
Here are some ways you can promote treatment retention:
- Listen to your partner’s experiences of treatment without attempting to counsel or offer advice
- Learn the signs and symptoms of relapse
- Take a firm stance that professional treatment is the best option, no matter how tough it is
- Drive your loved one to and from treatment
- Affirm areas where you’ve noticed growth since starting treatment
- Express your gratitude and the positive impact recovery has had on your relationship
- Share resources about withdrawal timelines
- Make goals for a sober future
While full recovery isn’t in your power to grant, helping your partner through withdrawal and beyond is possible.
If you want to be ready the second your spouse is ready to commit to professional treatment, check out Silver Ridge Recovery now. Located in Asheville, North Carolina, your partner can find peace and healing in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Help your loved one get set up with the best treatment possible and call now.