We often write our blogs speaking to people who may have gone through an addiction. But it is also important to address those around the person who may be suffering. Parents, children and close friends all experience their own unique hardships in these situations and we certainly believe it is helpful to teach them about the recovery process. And, in our opinion, it may be even more important to acknowledge and educate significant others.
Psychology Today recently touched on this topic, highlighting what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone who is in treatment. Though you may not realize it, your role as a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend is crucial in furthering the recovery process. And as their article correctly points out, there are some helpful habits to adopt that can help show support.
One key point that Psychology Today writer Sam Louie points out is acknowledgment of the addiction. It is important that there is an open dialogue throughout the relationship and substance abuse issues should be discussed honestly. It is advised to encourage the significant other to open up about whatever issue they struggled with and to cast all judgement aside.
Emotional connectedness is another point that Louie brings up. Keep an eye out for avoidance tactics and take note if your significant other doesn’t appear present at times. Secrecy often accompanies using, so if you see that your loved one may be hiding things or detached about certain issues, don’t be afraid to probe further.
Physical stability is brought up by Louie too, in reference to sleeping patterns, eating habits and general physiological changes you may observe. Obviously, if someone is clean and successfully through a recovery program than you can expect them to demonstrate patterns of physical health. But if you see some of those habits begin to change, open the dialogue again about the addictions of the past.
Louie ends the piece with some words of wisdom that he has experienced firsthand as an addiction counselor. Though you may not realize it, your role as the significant other in a relationship yields a lot of power when it comes to a dependency. Setting boundaries and working to be that emotional balance can truly set your loved one on the path to further success.
“The reality from my counseling perspective is that many people don’t know they have an addiction until their partners have the courage and conviction to confront them,” Louie concludes. “When partners communicate unequivocally that the addiction is not acceptable and if the person shows remorse, contrition, and demonstrative behavioral changes, then these are flags that the potential for a healthy future exists.”