A drug or alcohol addiction can put immense strain on a relationship. If your spouse or significant other has recently started a treatment program, they have taken an important step towards recovery, but you may be wondering when the difficulties are going to end.
While recovery and treatment are still challenging times for both of you, there are steps you can take to support your loved one in recovery that will help minimize the strain and provide a hopeful outlook during this time.
What can I do to support my spouse in addiction recovery?
Support is more than making their favorite meal to come home to after a long treatment day (although this gesture will likely communicate loads). Supporting your loved one is as continuous as their recovery, and knowing how to show that support can ease the burden of trying to find new, innovative ways of letting them know you’re here to help.
Identify and eliminate triggers at home
One of the benefits – and challenges – of outpatient substance use disorder treatment is that the client comes home at the end of the day. While this keeps disruptions to the normal daily routine at a minimum (you can still work your job, attend school, etc.), it can be challenging because your spouse is not in an entirely protected environment. In inpatient treatment, there’s not a hint of substances anywhere; but in normal, everyday life, it may be more common for your spouse to encounter triggers.
Make sure you remove any and all substances from your home and identify any additional potential triggers. For example, if you and your spouse are invited to a social gathering where alcohol will be served, it may be best to decline during the early stages of recovery. Eliminating potential triggers will help your spouse stay on the road to recovery.
Communicate honestly, but avoid judgmental language
Communication is vital for relationships, and your feelings about the addiction are valid. However, it is important to avoid judgmental or harsh language that may discourage your partner. Make it clear that you still love your spouse for who they are, and that you are proud of them for taking positive steps towards recovery. But don’t be afraid of kindly setting any necessary boundaries or guidelines to promote healing in both of your lives.
Also, encourage your spouse to express their own feelings about the recovery process. Let them know you are there for support. Actively listen as they express their struggles, worries and thoughts about treatment. While you may not be equipped to address them all, even just providing that listening ear will show a lot of support.
Plan substance-free activities
It is important to strengthen and maintain your relationship through fun activities you can do as a couple. It is equally important to avoid situations or locations that could trigger a potential relapse. Focus on activities that are fun and encourage bonding.
- Going to a local farmer’s market
- Exploring a nearby museum, state park or town
- Having a movie night with lots of snacks and a mega bed on the floor
- Volunteering together at an animal shelter
- Planning a picnic lunch
- Renting kayaks and spending a sunny day on the water
There’s no shortage of substance-free date ideas that you and your spouse can enjoy.
Watch for relapse signs
Outpatient treatment for substance use disorder is a long and difficult process. Relapse can happen no matter how strong the motivation to reach sobriety is. Be sure to monitor your spouse for signs of relapse, including:
- Changes in behavior, such as disrupted sleep schedule, failure to maintain routines, lapses in self-care or personal hygiene, impulsive or irrational behavior, and lying or manipulation
- Changes in attitude, especially towards the treatment program or the goal of recovery. Your spouse may start doubting whether he or she can achieve sobriety, or may complain about the rehab program and doctors
- Increased stress, depression or anxiety
- Social isolation, withdrawal from friends and family and loss of interest in hobbies
- Reflecting on his or her drug use in a positive light, or spending time with friends he or she has used with in the past
If you see any of these warning signs, it is important to address them with your partner immediately. Express your concern to the doctors at the treatment facility as well; they are trained to spot and address relapse symptoms.
Get help for your loved one
High Focus Centers is dedicated to providing outpatient substance use disorder treatment programs based on individual needs. With multiple centers across New Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina and Georgia, High Focus Centers has the resources to guide you and your partner through the struggle of addiction and reduce the strain on your relationship.
Contact us today to get in touch with one of our counselors.