Addiction is an isolating and lonely experience that pushes people away from loved ones. But addiction recovery is the complete opposite. Long-term recovery is a group effort. As the partner of someone in recovery you are an essential part of that effort.
If your partner is enrolled at an addiction recovery center you obviously don’t want to have drugs or alcohol in your home, and you’ll have to adjust your schedule so they have the time they need for treatment. But a lot more goes into being a supportive partner during the recovery process.
Your partner may be the one who has to stay on the path to sobriety, but there are a few things you can do to make it much easier for them to stay the course.
Accept That Recovery Takes Time
One of the best things a partner can do is understand the addiction recovery process takes time and have realistic expectations based on that. It’s not simply a matter of detoxing and having the willpower to stay sober. Addiction is a chronic disease. Because of that, there isn’t a cure.
Although there is a certain timeline for addiction treatment programs, addiction has to be managed long-term. It gets easier with time, but recovery is a lengthy process. The brain needs time to physically recover, and the behavior changes that are needed to break the addiction cycle don’t happen overnight. Because of this, even a year into sobriety there’s a relatively high risk of relapse.
But being a supportive partner that’s prepared for the long road ahead significantly reduces relapse risks. Accepting that recovery takes time will help you have more patience and not expect too much too quickly from your partner, which only adds to their stress and increases the risk of relapse.
Be Willing to Participate in Treatment
Many of the top addiction treatment centers don’t just treat the people who enroll in a program. They treat the people in the client’s inner circle as well. Family therapy and couples therapy is often offered because these types of relationships are critical to a person’s successful recovery.
Simply agreeing to participate in treatment shows your loved one that you are willing to put in the work yourself. That you there to offer your full support and do whatever it takes to help them stay sober. The therapy sessions can also help identify communication problems you may be having and can help you better understand the struggles that your loved one is dealing with.
Be a Source of Positivity
Addiction is wrapped up in a lot of negativity. Low self-esteem and self-doubt are common among people with substance use disorders. In recovery, your partner needs a champion who is going to believe in them and help them stay positive during the highs and lows.
One way to increase positivity is to use a positive reward system. Using positive rewards when your partner reaches a sobriety milestone helps to:
- Reinforce the benefits recovery.
- Encourage your partner to keep going.
- Acknowledge the work they are putting in and gains that have been made.
- Give you a chance to connect.
It’s also important to avoid judgement and blame. Those two negatives are very counterproductive in recovery. All it will do is add to their stress and lower their self-worth.
Focus on Your Own Wellbeing
There’s no way to be a good support system if you’re struggling yourself. It’s the same as being in an airplane when oxygen masks are needed. You’re advised to put your mask on first so you can effectively help others.
Having a partner that’s addicted to drugs or alcohol can be mentally, emotionally and physically draining. You’re dealing with a high level of worry and stress on a daily basis. You can make your own wellbeing a priority by:
- Establishing boundaries
- Taking time for yourself
- Having a daily self-care routine
- Exercising regularly
- Getting adequate sleep
- Joining support groups
When you’re helping your partner through recovery it’s easy to push your own needs aside, but that isn’t sustainable. It can quickly lead to burnout and resentment that will have a negative impact on your partner’s recovery whether or not they are receiving support from an addiction treatment center.
Let Sobriety Be Their Main Focus
Early in recovery, sobriety has to be the main focus for your partner. That may mean they can’t spend as much time with you or do the activities that you are most interested in. It can also feel like you’re being left out or that you don’t play as big a role in your partner’s new life.
While it’s normal to feel this way, it’s important to give your partner the space and time that they need to give sobriety their full attention. Be encouraging, but don’t try to force things by getting too involved. Let your partner decide how much they share about their treatment. Often they’ll want to share with you, but that may not always be the case.
Lighthouse Recovery helps individuals, couples and families continue the addiction recovery process for long-term sobriety. Our Dallas addiction center treats substance use disorders in a holistic way from understanding the psychological reasons behind addictive behavior to helping families communicate more effectively. The experts at our Dallas addiction centers are ready to help you and your partner get through recovery by providing the support you both need.