An active addiction within a relationship takes a heavy toll on both partners.
Addiction, being a neurological disease, rewires the brain; it changes how an individual thinks and processes, and therefore, changes how they act. As a result, people struggling with substance use disorders often experience relationships breaking, and loved ones being driven away.
The choice to seek professional help and start on their recovery is not an easy decision, and it’s an incredibly important step in regaining sobriety — but it’s only the first step of many.
For many people, often another important step on their path to sobriety is enrolling in a sober living home, which can require you to be away from your partner (due to living at the house) anywhere from a few weeks, to upwards of six months.
Upon returning from a sober living home, you might experience a disconnect with your partner. Trust is often broken (even abused) in relationships when an addiction is present. So, now it’s time to embark on a new path within your recovery, rebuilding your relationship.
How addiction affects your relationship
Addiction is a disease, not the result of weak willpower or an innate flaw within someone’s character, which is why “being there” for these individuals isn’t enough to cure them.
People who don’t understand addiction might think they can “love” the addiction out of their partner. They might think that by having an honest conversation, or an intervention, it’ll be enough to convince their partner to simply “stop” using drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, this is not how addiction works; the majority of people need professional help.
The partner who is struggling with the addiction is, well, struggling with an addiction, which often causes a ripple effect of consequences in their life and the lives of those around them.
For the partner not struggling with an addiction, they might experience the relationship becoming increasingly codependent, unstable or even toxic because of the addiction.
Seeking relationship help can be powerful, not only in healing your relationship as a whole, but in aiding the mental and emotional healing of both individuals.
How to fix a broken relationship
After you’ve been away in a sober living facility, you might return to your partner and discover the addiction affected your relationship far more deeply than you thought.
It will take time to reconnect with your partner, so we’re going to give you some of our best tips and practices to help you do so.
1. Understand things have changed
Even if you are fully committed to your sobriety, never relapse, and completely repair your relationship, things will not go back to “the way they were,” because the situation is not what it used to be. So rather than focusing on trying to rebuild the relationship you two used to have, focus your efforts on rebuilding a healthier, happier relationship with your partner.
2. Don’t ask for trust, earn it
Chances are, the addiction caused you to engage in behaviors that broke your partner’s trust. As you rebuild your relationship, you might find yourself getting frustrated with their lack of trust and be tempted to tell them to “just trust you,” but trust must be earned. Keep your promises, follow through with commitments (recovery-related and otherwise), and don’t take a mile when they give you an inch.
3. Learn how to communicate well
There’s a few ways to be a better communicator with your partner:
- Make eye contact when you’re in a conversation (don’t be distracted, such as being on your phone)
- Don’t interrupt or consistently shift the conversation to be about you
- Listen to understand, not to argue
- Be reciprocative to hearing your partner’s needs, wants and feelings
- Communicate your own needs, wants and feelings calmly and honestly
Communication is key to any relationship, and proper communication with your partner upon returning home can make the difference in establishing a healthy relationship.
4. Be patient (but purposeful)
In the early stages of recovery, you might experience your partner being reluctant to believe you’re serious about recovery, especially if they received broken promises in the past. Don’t let this discourage you. It will take time to repair your relationship, you have to be willing to navigate the emotional consequences of the addiction. Be patient, but don’t be stagnant; continue to make amends, work on earning their trust and keep moving forwards.
5. Stay committed to your sobriety
This means committing to your sobriety, no matter what. Even when people doubt you, judge you, or reject you; even when life throws you the worst kind of curveballs; even if you relapse. Get help, get up and get back on the track to recovery, no matter what.
Contact us for help if you need it
If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder, or has relapsed since completing a treatment program, send us a message.
Our team here at Real Recovery is here to help you through every phase of your recovery.
You can call us anytime.