If you’re in recovery and have a significant other who is in recovery as well, there is always a chance that one of you will experience a relapse. If your significant other relapses, it can be difficult to know exactly what to do and how to protect yourself.
In the end, protecting yourself from a relapse should be your first priority and your recovery should be the most important thing to you. Without your recovery, you won’t have the life that you want and if you end up relapsing as well, you could completely tear down the life that you have spent so much time and effort rebuilding for yourself.
Unfortunately, the risk of relapse is just the reality that comes along with loving anyone who has a drug and alcohol problem; however, the choices that you make for your own recovery and the way you handle the situation from the beginning can make a difference in how things turn out. If your significant other, whether it be spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend has relapsed, then you have some serious decisions to make; you must draw upon all of your inner strength to ensure that you don’t fall into a relapse with them.
Suspecting A Relapse and Confirming It
The first thing that you have to do is determine if there has been an actual relapse. Ideally, your significant other will come out and be honest with you about what has happened, and if so, their honesty is a good start. Many times, however, fear takes hold and your significant other will attempt to keep their secret.
Relapses cannot be hidden for long though, and all of the signs and symptoms of their alcohol or drug use, as well as the consequences of it can show up rather quickly.
If your significant other is being dishonest and won’t admit that they to relapsed, you may feel like you’re going crazy. You see all the signs are there, but you don’t have any solid proof yet. The best thing you can do for yourself is to approach your loved one using the best assertive communication skills that you can possibly muster up in a deeply complex situation as this. Ask your significant other directly, “Are you using?” or if possible, ask him or her to take a urine drug screen.
Once you have confirmed that there truly has been a relapse, you can start putting boundaries into place and make a plan of action of how you will deal with the situation.
Once You Have Confirmation—Avoid These Pitfalls
Once you have confirmed that your loved one has relapsed, you have to promise yourself to make no compromises with your own recovery. You must continue to do the same things that you always do to upkeep and maintain your sobriety.
It’s important that you not give into the temptation to isolate yourself from others, no matter how difficult this situation may be or how reluctant you feel to talk about it. You’ll want to reach out and talk to someone you trust about the situation without feeling judged—find someone to talk to who embodies love and non-judgement but will still give you the straightforward truth. This could be a close friend, family, or if you’re involved in a 12-step program, a sponsor. Finding support immediately is going to be an important component of handling this situation in the healthiest way possible.
Go into the situation from the beginning with the understanding that you cannot control the choice that your significant other makes, and there is a real possibility that you will have to remove yourself from the situation if it continues to decline. If you are in a situation where you can’t immediately leave, it’s probably best to come up with a strategy to ensure that you stay on top of your own sobriety while living under the same roof as your significant other.
Know That This Is Life or Death
Removing yourself or your significant other from your current living situation is going to be ideal, because it protects you from potentially relapsing as well. Of course, there are situations where this isn’t possible, but if you’re in a situation where you can remove yourself—especially after your significant other has shown through their actions that he or she is not ready to get clean and sober—it’s probably the best step you can take.
Realizing that each day you live under the same roof as a person in active addiction can completely risk your sobriety and all of the healthy changes you have made to your life. Just because you leave, it doesn’t mean that it’s the complete end of the relationship or love that you have for that person. If anything, it will show your significant other that you’re serious about your recovery and will not hang around to watch him or her fall back into that damaging lifestyle. It may even help to let your significant other know that once they do what they need to do to get help, you will consider giving the relationship another chance, but only after you see action on their part to get better.
In the end, these decisions are up to you, but understanding the importance of not putting your own recovery and sobriety at risk in the process, no matter what, is essential.
How Can I Offer Help to My Significant Other Who Has Relapsed?
It would be highly beneficial to confront the issue firmly and assertively or prepare to host an intervention. The message that you want to get across is simple: “I know you’ve relapsed, let’s get you some help.” Your significant other may begin to deny, rationalize, or justify the reason why they are using again. No matter what is said, the one answer that you want to hear from your significant other at this point is, “Yes, I will accept help.”
When your loved one accepts the help you’re offering or accepts that he or she needs it and helps you to begin looking for treatment centers, you will know that your significant other is on board. Once you seek out adequate treatment, you’ll be supportive through the treatment process. If your significant other doesn’t want to accept any help for his or her drug or alcohol use at this point, then that leaves you with few options. You can stay and risk your sobriety, or you can tap into your healthy boundaries and walk away until you see real progress being made and your significant other is once again is clean, sober, and in recovery.
What if They Don’t Accept Help?
There is always the real possibility that your loved one will not accept the help and may not be ready in any way to stop using. If you choose to stay—knowing that they’re using and not motivated to seek help—you have to be realistic and ask yourself what you can do to ensure that you don’t relapse as well.
If you’re in early recovery, with only a little bit of time being sober, you run an extremely high likelihood of relapse, especially if you and your significant other share the same drug of choice. Seeing your loved one high may ignite triggers and cravings within yourself that you thought you were already done dealing with and it may be difficult to resist the urge to use, knowing that your significant other has a direct connection.
All in all, choosing to stay with your significant other after they have relapsed may be signing you up for one as well—so it’s not the best choice that you can make for yourself. If you’re interested in getting your significant other who has relapsed into treatment, you can contact one of our addiction specialists who can go over some of your options and help get your loved one the best treatment possible.