addict spouse

When it comes to your relationships, all you can hope for is that the bond between you is strong enough before addiction took hold or dedicated enough after. Because rebuilding relationships after addiction will test every part of everything that each of you has invested in it. Rebuilding relationship priorities after addiction treatment will be an ongoing compromise between two people that want to see the best in each other.

Though not impossible, after addiction takes hold, rebuilding the bond that once existed in the relationship will take work. Not just work for the addict either. This will be a team responsibility that must be treated with patience and respect for your partner, and for each other. 

Addiction Will Break the Strongest of Relationships

Addiction can and will take everything you have and damage it. It eats up everything that you have put your time and effort into. It devours everything you love and cherish, only to leave you with an empty void that is only filled with desire for one thing.

That one thing, however, is not your partner and is impossible to satisfy. Your addiction tricks you into thinking that if you give it everything, it demands that you feel full and fulfilled. This is a disease known as addiction, and it is taking over your mind.  

Is Rebuilding a Relationship After Addiction Possible?

Counselors and therapists found that an overwhelming number of those in rehab or recovery reach out to a couple’s therapist in order to rebuild relationships after addiction. In the United States, 23.5 million people suffer from some sort of substance addiction. Many confess that one or even both partners have, at one point, tried to complete the rehab and recovery process. Some found that it was near impossible when the other person was not on the same page in their journey. 

More often than not, those that suffer from addiction are involved in some type of co-dependent or intimate relationship. This is why it is important to examine how addicts were able to rebuild relationships after addiction. Unfortunately, many that had tried rebuilding their relationship after addiction have ended up growing apart in order to complete substance abuse treatment and sobriety. However, many others have found a way to work together to develop new behaviors and routines that made the journey a team effort. This teamwork led to a more stable relationship in recovery. 

Addiction Infects Every Corner of Your Relationship

In order for a couple to begin rebuilding a relationship after addiction, the areas of their partnership that are affected by substance abuse must be addressed. This can be anything from the friends you hang out together as a couple, to the way they spend their downtime at the end of the day. If one or both people in a domestic partnership are addicted to drugs or alcohol, these elements are sure to be infected with this disease in one way or another. 

In order to move past addiction together, both partners must be ready to make the sacrifices necessary to the others sobriety and recovery. Believe it or not, the routine of one person directly affects the other, even if only one person in the relationship is an addict. For example, an alcoholic that is cohabiting with someone that is able to responsibly partake in social drinking without abuse, might not be able to keep a handle on their triggers and temptations. This could lead to relapse, adding stress that will threaten the relationship further. 

Addiction Leads to Abuse in Relationships

Every relationship, whether drugs and/or alcohol are involved, comes with a certain amount of conflict and stress. Typically, those that remain in relationships find that the good outweighs the hardships, and they are able to move past their differences. When it comes to addiction, and specifically intoxication, a person’s emotions, behaviors, and decision-making capabilities tend to be skewed. 

This can lead to a very unhealthy relationship, where neither partner is benefiting. Verbal, physical, and sexual abuse are often reported in cases with addiction. Oftentimes, these circumstances cannot be reconciled, and getting away from the relationship as soon as you can is the best option. Domestic violence of any kind is not okay, and if you or someone you love needs help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available to assist you, as is local law enforcement. 

The most common issue, however, when it comes to the relationships of an addict where there is abuse, comes after rehab and addiction therapy are put in place. When deciding to rebuild the relationship, addiction takes priority for the couple. This tends to lead to any type of abuse getting pushed aside, but only for the time being. In fact, 50% of men being treated for alcoholism or drug abuse have a history of abusing their partners. If these behaviors are not addressed as part of couples therapy during rehab treatment, before long, the dangerous conditions will soon return. Denial of any kind of abuse, where therapy or legal help is refused, can lead to deadly consequences. 

Figuring Out Where the Damage is Done in Your Relationships

Other ways addiction may have caused damage are:

  • Finances are handled irresponsibly and can lead to money problems or debt.
  • Law enforcement and custody regulations when children are exposed to a guardian that has an addiction. 
  • Physical and emotional performance issues that can result in joblessness.
  • Hormonal imbalances that can lead to sexual dysfunction and therefore lack of physical intimacy. 
  • Social events or public appearances may be tainted, making it uncomfortable for one, or both people. 
  • Lack of trust that will lead to ending a marriage or romance.
  • Uneven balance of responsibilities distributed between partners. 

Domestic violence and abuse are not the only hurdles that a couple may face when rebuilding a relationship after addiction issues are concerned.

Any one of these issues can and will interrupt the rebuilding process of a relationship after addiction, if not addressed. Many coping skills are learned in rehab that will help you avoid falling back into these patterns of habit. Patience is required by both parties in order to coexist peacefully in a healthy, stable, and, most importantly, sober household. 

Rebuilding Relationships and Supporting Each Other After Addiction

This is an all hands-on deck situation, and you must both agree to participate to have any chance of success. Not every relationship where addiction is involved is past the point of rebuilding after addiction is under control. With a lot of work and even more patience, it is possible to ensure that you and your partner move on and reestablish your relationship in a healthy and supportive way. Whether both you and your significant other or just one person in the relationship has a problem with addiction, both of you must make a very real commitment to sobriety. 

Rebuilding Relationships: Support vs. Enabling After Addiction

There is a very fine line between helping your partner to get their lives back on track and allowing the behavior to continue by inaction. Supporting one another as you battle addiction and fix your relationship from the ground up, involves keeping each other on the right track. By doing nothing and ignoring the problem, you are enabling them to continue these patterns of behaviors. Without making the necessary changes to both of your lifestyles, and both actively participating in the transformation process fully, the outcome will not be successful. 

Being an enabler to your partner’s addiction isn’t always a conscious action. In fact, much of the time, the simple lack of awareness toward you or your partner’s behaviors and habits is enough to set the relationship back. Other times, a partner may allow these behaviors to continue or even get worse by acting as the “fall guy” in the operation. Some of the ways this might happen are:

  • Sacrificing your time, health and/or job to ensure that their partner gets home safely when actively feeding their addiction. 
  • Being their designated driver to allow them to consume more alcohol or do drugs and not have to worry about transportation. 
  • Coming up with excuses to friends and family because their partner is either inebriated or too hungover to attend gatherings. 
  • Financially covering their end of the responsibilities and not holding them accountable. 
  • Allowing them space away from their parenting or household duties, giving them more freedom to partake in substance abuse.

Though your partner may be very grateful, and may even make it up to you, your behavior is only making the problem worse. Rebuilding relationship responsibilities and boundaries will be important when supporting your significant other toward a life in recovery

Rebuilding Relationships: Checking Your Behaviors After Addiction

In order to restore and maintain your relationship after addiction, there are a few things to be more aware of that will ensure you are giving your relationship the best shot at success. You need to ask yourself if you are:

  • Making sure that your own needs and emotions are being tended to, and not being ignored due to your partner’s addiction
  • Am I making sure that everyone is responsible for their part of the household responsibilities?
  • Are financial contributions equal or fair priorities?
  • Family responsibilities with the children are divided up equally, taken seriously, and they are getting the things that they need
  • Are you addressing stressful situations in a healthy way, such as speaking with a therapist or a trained professional?
  • Feeling safe and respected as one half of the relationship
  • Maintaining your own health and ensuring that the tools and environment supports a positive and sober sense of well-being
  • Taking the necessary time for yourself, getting the rest, exercise, and quiet time that you need
  • Am I making my own sobriety and recovery a top priority?

 If you find that you are unable to answer yes to all of the questions above, you may need to reevaluate your sobriety and recovery to avoid your relapse or the relapse of your significant other.

Couples Therapy to Rebuild Relationships After Addiction

Addiction has been recognized as a disease for some time now. For a long time, it was treated as a disease of just one person, the addict. However, in recent years after many studies of how addiction affects everyone around addiction, it is now known as a family disease. Because of this, many rehabs offer programs that encourage positive and healthy communication and cooperation of not just the addict, but those around them that love them too. 

As the times are ever-changing, so are the methods used in rehabilitation. To provide the best treatment for couples who look to be able to rebuild relationships after addiction, many rehabs and recovery treatment centers offer programs, outlets, and suggestions to help. Some of these to look into are:

  • Behavioral couples therapy – Partners invested in the process can learn to better express their needs with each other. 
  • Emotionally focused therapy – Couples learn to rely on one another as a team to rebuild the relationships intimate connection.
  • A support group that shares the same values- many can be very specific to the needs of the couple’s relationship dynamics, such as religion, ethnicity, gender, etc.
  • 12-step programs- these can be anonymous, or participated in together, and often allow an addict to vent and release any built-up stress in a safe and meaningful way. 

Finding the right program that works in rebuilding relationship needs after rehab is an individual process for each partnership. Typically, many of these can be found during inpatient care and can be integrated into daily life after rehab. 

Rebuilding Relationships: Maintaining A Supportive Environment is YOUR Responsibility After Addiction

As mentioned above, even if you do everything by the rules, sometimes rebuilding a relationship after addiction simply cannot be done. Relapse is possible for every addict, and that applies to you and your significant other. Doing your best to support each other is very important, but your sobriety is your responsibility, and yours alone. 

Many addicts find themselves unable to achieve a safe and successful recovery due to an environment that they cannot manage to remove themselves from. Whether their significant other is in a different place in their recovery, or they find that the stressors and triggers are overwhelming, something has to give. In order to rebuild your relationship and life after addiction treatment, evaluate your surroundings. Make an effort to ensure that these obstacles are removed or easily avoided, to prevent relapse. For you and your partner to have the best chance, take notice that there are NO:

  • Alcohol, and that it is not easily accessible
  • Drugs or remanence of drug addiction
  • Medications that are prescribed or illegally obtained being mismanaged
  • Reminders insight that could trigger you or your SO (such as posters, pictures, movies, etc.)

Also, do your best to ensure that you DO have other healthy alternatives to prevent cravings from creeping up. DO have:

  • Health food or fun alternative snacks
  • Full stock of water, juice, tea or any other non-alcoholic drinks
  • Positive and insightful reading materials
  • Natural light
  • House plants or flowers make for a beautiful serene space
  • A planner or calendar to remember and celebrate your recovery dates of importance, and to look forward to more ahead

Rebuild Your Relationship After Addiction: Do it Now!

Relationships encounter bumps in the road, no matter what the circumstances. Substance abuse takes away from the ability to enjoy life to the fullest together. Sobriety is the best thing you can do for yourself, and the best show of how much you care about rebuilding relationships after addiction. You do not have to face your addiction alone. Coastal Detox allows you to access the rehab treatment programs that you and your significant other need to live a healthy, sober life in recovery. Get more out of your life by calling (877) 406-6623 where rehab and recovery resource treatment options are ready for you. Make a plan to make it possible to rebuild relationships after addiction. You owe it to yourself and to each other. Contact us here

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851021/

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/7-signs-relationship-that-will-last.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/domestic-violence

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.