How to Talk to Your Partner About Their Addiction

For many of us, entering treatment for addiction will be one of the most important decisions we ever make. The road to acceptance is different for each of us. One of the things we all have in common though is that we benefit from the support of people who care about us. This is especially true when one finally chooses to stop the fight and accept help for their addiction.

Decisions and Acceptance

Almost everyone who struggles with addiction has a string of broken and damaged relationships behind them. When the next drink or drug is always the top priority, people invariably get hurt. People caught up in the throes of addiction may steal money or property. They may react angrily to offers of help. They may say cruel things they will later wish they could take back. Repairing these broken relationships is part of the work of recovery.

However, most of that repair has yet to begin when the addict first decides to enter rehab. The family may even be at their wit’s end by this point. Afraid to trust the addict again. Afraid to hold onto hope that the person they once knew before the drugs or drinking is still in there somewhere. In fact, entering rehab is often almost as much of a challenge to the family as it is to the addict themselves.

Willingness and Support

It is important for the people who care about the addicted person to try to summon whatever courage and faith they have left. That may sound easier said than done, but help is available. This does not mean they must forgive and forget all of the harm that’s been done. Nor does it mean that addiction is an excuse that absolves the addict of all responsibility. If you find yourself caught up in this type of thinking, take a breath and pause. They say the work of recovery is done one day at a time. That is as true for the family and loved ones of the addict as it is for the addict themselves.

All that is needed at this time is the willingness to support the addict in their decision to get help. The acceptance that they are attempting to halt the downward spiral and get well again. This is a time for patience and understanding. As much as you can manage. Therapists and staff at the rehab make the process easier, so parents and loved ones need not worry about what’s expected of them. The best advice is to try and be as supportive as possible and to follow the lead of the patient’s therapist or caseworker.

Recovering Together

Treatment at a drug and alcohol rehab is designed to be a transformative experience. Once the fog begins to clear, the work begins. A person who is in treatment will have good days and bad. They find long-dormant emotions and feelings begin to bubble to the surface. They may be waylaid by alternating waves of guilt and dread over the damage they’ve done to themselves and others. At the onset, recovery is really about facing and accepting the truth and that can be painful. The knowledge that people at home are supporting their recovery can go a long way. Many treatment centers also offer family counseling. Either over the phone or the internet or in person, family counseling can jump-start the healing process.

Perhaps the most important part of family involvement during rehab is that it broadens understanding. If loved ones at home learn more about addiction and what they can do to help, it smooths the transition back to everyday life. Many family and friends of addicts find the 12-step fellowships enormously helpful. AL-ANON, NAR-ANON, and Co-Dependents Anonymous offer the chance to network with others in similar circumstances. They will find support and wisdom in these groups that will make the days ahead easier to navigate. Ultimately recovery is the responsibility of the addict or alcoholic alone. However, having people around them who have some understanding of what they are trying to do and support them can make all the difference in the world. Engaging relatives, loved ones, and/or close friends in the recovery process benefits every person involved, not just the recovering person.

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