Addiction is a family disease. It affects everyone in the life of the addicted person. If you feel that your spouse or partner has an issue with addiction, it can be tough to address it. But it’s important to do so. Here’s how to prepare before you speak to your partner about their addiction.
Know the Signs
Many don’t know they have a substance use disorder. Even if their addiction is obvious to everyone else, they’re often trapped in denial. You must be ready to break through this denial. The way to accomplish this is by being able to indicate undeniable evidence. There are a few major signs that they are indeed addicted:
• Legal Troubles from their Drug and/or Alcohol Use
• Work Problems
• Issues Meeting Responsibilities
• Financial Difficulties
• Health Concerns
• Relationship Challenges
Use these to highlight where their drinking or drug use has created problems. Show examples of each one. You will need them as reference points during the conversation. Emotions run high during discussions about addiction. This can cause the conversation to be derailed. Having this list will give a structure and allow you to help stay on topic.
Prepare in Advance
Having the list of challenges caused by your partner’s addiction is a good first step. But it helps to go further. You likely have hurt feelings surrounding your partner’s addiction. These can cause the dialog to quickly collapse into argument. To avoid this, write out exactly what you want to say.
It is critical that you do some research on treatment options in advance. Know what is covered by your partner’s insurance or what the financial options are. It’s good to understand the difference between residential treatment, Intensive Outpatient (IOP), Outpatient (OP), and Partial Hospitalization (PHP). If you have any questions, contact a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. The staff there will gladly answer your questions and explain their programs. They may also be able to assist you in deciding which choice is best for your partner.
It also helps to understand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA can allow them to take time off of work without fear of losing their job.
Here’s a few items to have ready:
• List of problems addiction has caused
• Possible treatment options
• A written statement that is emotionally supportive
If possible, avoid deviating from your script. Addicts can quickly turn defensive and throw you off course. Know all the points you want to make to ensure you are able to persist.
Once you’re prepared, schedule a time with your partner to talk. Make sure you have sufficient time for the discussion. Try to approach them at a time when they’re going to be sober, but still relaxed.
The major point here is to offer to help. It’s very tempting to accuse or blame. Try to recognize that your partner is living with a difficult mental health disorder. Emphasize that you care about them. Explain that you see how much they’re hurting. Clarify that you only want to help them get better. By showing sympathy, empathy, and compassion, you avoid putting them on the defensive.
It helps to begin by saying you know how hard things are for them. This is the point where you cite the evidence of your partner’s addiction. Tell them you think the two of you can solve the problems by addressing the core addiction issue. Then offer solutions.
Be ready for them to get angry. They may refuse to listen. They may blame you. The entire dialog could turn into an argument. That’s perfectly fine. Try to remain calm and rational. That’s the point of preparation. Say what you need to say as kindly as you can. Voice your concerns. Afterward, ensure your own mental health is managed by having support from friends and family ready for you.
If you want to know more about treatment options for your partner or have any questions at all about how substance abuse treatment works, please give us a call at (704) 970-4106