When a spouse or partner is undergoing treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD), it’s important to understand the ins and outs of providing adequate SUD support.
Many individuals struggle with wanting to be there for their partners while also dealing with the many ways SUD can impact a relationship. You’ll need to find the balance between meeting your partner’s needs and meeting your own, always keeping in mind that recovery from substance use is rarely a linear process.
Here’s what to know about helping someone with an addiction, with practical tips for supporting your partner and protecting your own mental health.
Substance Use Disorder and Its Impact on Relationships
In 2021, more than 46 million Americans met the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder. Symptoms of this disorder include chronic use of drugs and/or alcohol and an inability to physically or psychologically control use.
SUD is treatable. But before someone seeks substance use disorder help, the illness can result in significant changes to relationships. Some of the ways that SUD may impact a relationship include:
- Lack of trust and feelings of betrayal
- Loss of intimacy and communication
- Social isolation
- Fearful and/or stressful home environments
- Legal or financial troubles
As the partner of someone with SUD, you know just how destructive this condition can be. To support your loved one effectively, however, it’s essential that you understand what to expect in terms of treatment and recovery – for your partner and for yourself.
A Guide for Partners
Family support is often an integral part of achieving sobriety. Here are six things you can do to actively support your partner on their treatment journey and help tip the scales toward long-term success.
1. Build a Supportive Environment
Open communication is key in SUD recovery. As much as possible, create a judgment-free zone where your partner can speak freely, and practice active listening so you can tackle issues together as a team. Never forget to establish healthy boundaries and make sure you’re not putting your own needs on the line to meet the needs of your partner.
2. Educate Yourself on SUD Treatment Options
According to recent statistics, 94% of individuals with substance use disorder do not receive treatment. Help facilitate treatment on your partner’s behalf by researching available programs, exploring local therapy and counseling options, and reading up on the role of medications in recovery. Choosing a substance use disorder treatment plan should be a joint effort to ensure the path forward works for everyone involved.
3. Offer Emotional Encouragement
Recovery comes with a lot of emotional challenges. Be there for your partner by providing encouragement and motivation, and celebrate milestones and achievements, no matter how small they might seem.
4. Provide Practical Assistance
Life doesn’t stop just because you’re in recovery, so do your best to offer practical support by means of assisting in daily responsibilities and picking up the slack where reasonable. Encourage your partner to stick to healthy habits and routines and come from a place of compassion when it comes to things like cravings and relapse.
5. Make a Plan for Dealing with Challenges
Setbacks are part of recovery, and it’s how you move on from them that matters. Acknowledge that relapses can and do happen, and commit to communicating effectively during difficult times. Many SUD treatment centers provide aftercare services that offer professional guidance in the more difficult phases of sobriety.
6. Take Care of Yourself, Too
When you love someone, you want to do everything in your power to see them healthy and happy. However, your emotional well-being matters too, and you need to balance support for your partner with your own personal boundaries. We recommend taking advantage of services such as Al-Anon and Retreat Family groups, which will connect you with others in your situation and resources for caregiver support.
SUD Support for Struggling Individuals and Their Loved Ones
Retreat Family is committed to helping you as you support your loved one through SUD treatment. Our family-oriented services include therapeutic practices that acknowledge the impact of SUD on relationships and can help you navigate every step of getting your partner the professional assistance they need to overcome substance use disorder.
There is no better time than right now to encourage your partner to get help – or to start getting the help you need as a caregiver. As you embark on an open dialogue about substance use and recovery, please contact us to learn more about our programs and facilities and take those first steps toward a brighter future.