I'm Sober, But My Partner Is Not

According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, over 23 million Americans over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol, drugs, or both. Similar results show that if are sober and have overcome an addiction, then you are one of 22.35 million others in recovery.

The statistics are provided by a study completed in recent years. These numbers may even be higher since not all addictions and recoveries are reported. This means you are at least one out of every ten people who are in recovery.

Feel Proud About Being Sober

You have accomplished something challenging. And although you may still struggle at times, you are doing what it takes to stay sober. Sadly, this also means approximately one out of every ten Americans are still struggling with addiction. What happens when you (in recovery) finds yourself in a relationship with one of those ten people still struggling with addiction?

You know you are putting your sobriety in jeopardy, but you don’t know what to do. You think of walking out on them, but you know what it’s like to be addicted, and you don’t want to leave them alone. You want to force them into treatment, but you know if they are not ready, they will relapse. It is not easy to navigate a relationship in which you are sober, but the one you love is not.

Below are some specific actions you can take that will help you figure out the best solution.

Stay Sober

When you love someone, it makes sense that you want to help them when they are ill. And you know that being addicted is a disease, an illness. But, trying to help someone else fight their disease can make it hard for you to stay sober when you are in recovery. If you find yourself putting your needs to the side to support your partner’s addiction, you may also be struggling with co-dependency.

Your main goal right now must be to prevent a relapse. This may mean you must separate from your addicted love one for a while. Being around someone who is still using is too risky. Plus, your partner needs to experience the consequences of their addiction. Because it takes two people to make a healthy and strong relationship, you can’t begin to work on yours anyway. Therefore, all your focus needs to be on your sobriety.

Be Realistic About Your Relationship

Best-case scenarios always end with you and your partner, both sober and happy forever. This can happen, but only after you both get sober. Right now, your partner is still using. You must make decisions based on the reality of your relationship, which may include painful, but necessary, choices. Your living environment must encourage sobriety. If it does not do so today, then you must make changes, today.

If your partner is unwilling to seek treatment, they are not ready to get sober. You cannot be a part of their addiction. Therefore, you cannot be in a relationship with them right now. If your partner seeks treatment, you can stay with them and make your relationship better through intensive individual and family therapy. If you can engage in recovery together, as you engaged in addiction together, your relationship will thrive.

Increase Time in Therapy

Even if you feel like nothing can trigger you to relapse, you need support from an addiction specialist. First, feeling overconfident in recovery can be dangerous. Second, you need help deciding how to handle the continued use of substances by your partner.

You don’t have to make hard decisions alone. And even though we are being asked to stay home due to the coronavirus scare, you still have access to therapy. One significant outcome of COVID19 is that virtual treatment improved, and now you have more options than ever before to connect with mental health and addiction specialists from the comfort of your home.

You can attend individual counseling sessions online, but you can also participate in Alanon, AA and NA support groups, mental health support groups, and even online groups that center on living with an addicted partner. You can build a support network, which is essential for recovery, with people across the nation. You can also learn how to set boundaries with your partner.

Set and Keep Boundaries

You know from experience how easy it is for an addict to manipulate people to get what they want. Now that you are on the other side of addiction, you must now get good at avoiding manipulation. Setting and following through with boundaries helps you stay sober, and it helps you feel good that you are not helping your partner stay addicted.

Even when it may be much easier to give in, stay strong, and hold your ground. Boundaries you must set in a relationship include anything that can put your sobriety in jeopardy, like allowing your partner to have parties at your house with others who are drinking or using drugs. Do not allow drugs or alcohol in your home.

Avoid giving your partner financial support that enables them to get drugs or alcohol. Do not bail them out of legal trouble. Do not give them rides to obtain their drug of choice, even if they pay for it with their own money. Don’t cover for them or make excuses for them. Don’t waste your time on guilt trips or telling them what to do. Finally, do not allow them to abuse you physically, verbally, or emotionally, ever.

Be Selfish

If you are like most, we think being selfish is a bad thing. The truth, however, is that if we are not selfish in some areas, we cannot be selfless later on. Taking care of yourself is the key to a successful recovery. The healthier you are physically and mentally, the better you can prevent relapse and help your partner fight relapse once they become sober. Be there for yourself so you can be there for your partner.


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