Addiction, whether to alcohol or drugs or behaviors such has gambling, is, of course, a fundamentally personal disorder. We tend to forget, however, that, more than most disorders, addiction also afflicts the couple and the whole family. In this guest article Caleb Anderson (founder of recoveryhope.org) proposes some advise based on his personal experience. Caleb Anderson developed an opiate addiction after being in a car accident. Hes in recovery today and wants to inspire others to overcome their addictions.
Co-founder of recoveryhope.org
Addiction affects every aspect of life and every person in the addict's life. The result is that couples struggle to cope and heal when addiction affects their relationship, and it's difficult to know how to help your loved one and when to end the relationship. The most important thing is to ensure that the person struggling with addiction gets help but that the significant other considers his own well-being at the same time. We hope that our tips for couples affected by addiction will make the struggle a little more manageable.
1. Begin by Getting Help
Addiction is a disease, and just as you wouldn't try to cure your loved one's cancer on your own, you should not try to treat his addiction on your own. Recovery and healing are possible, but you need the help of trained professionals to help your loved one face and overcome his or her addiction. First, you need to get your loved one into some form of treatment. They will need to detox in a hospital or under the care of medical professionals at an accredited treatment program or center.
Be prepared for detox to last several days. During this time, you should understand that you may not be permitted to see or visit your significant other. This is an ideal time for you to seek counseling or join a support group for the pain you've experienced while watching your loved one struggle with addiction. You will need to be in good shape emotionally and physically if you are going to support your significant other through his/her addiction recovery. He/she will need love and support, and you will need to have a clear mind so you can decide whether you want to remain in the relationship or if separation is better for you.
While recovery is the goal and something the non-addicted partner has hoped for, for the addict recovery carries its own set of challenges. It is not as easy as people hope, and couples affected by addiction often fall into the blame game, defensiveness, criticism, judgment, and other negative emotions that can rip them apart. That's why both partners should seek help early in the recovery process.
2. Take Advantage of Couples Counseling
When your significant other has completed the first phase of recovery treatment, you should take advantage of couples counseling. Couples that are affected by addiction are four to seven times more likely to separate, and couples counseling can give you the tools you need to try to heal your relationship or determine whether separation is the best option. A counselor will help the non-addicted partner avoid judging, blaming, and resenting the recovering partner. The counselor also will help the couple to learn to listen to and support one another and build the trust that was ruined by the addiction itself.
3. Ensure You Have a Healthy, Positive Living Environment
One of the best ways to overcome addiction is to make sure that you and your partner are living in a healthy, positive environment that supports his sobriety. You may find that moving to a new area is the best option because it will help your partner avoid old habits and triggers. If you find a neighborhood full of families or couples that share your values and that is relatively crime-free, you may be able to heal your relationship more quickly and rebuild your bond more strongly.
When searching for a new home that will support your partner's sobriety, share your concerns with your real estate agent. Agents know the area better than just about anyone else and will ensure that your new neighborhood is far from places that could trigger your partner. Look for locations that will give you opportunnities to spend time with your partner, such as hiking trails, recreation areas, and religious centers with support groups or sobriety meetings. Check out this guide to help find the right home for recovery.
When addiction affects your relationship, you need to ensure that your partner and you get the help and counseling you need to improve your health and well-being. Then, you should concentrate on either repairing or ending the relationship with the help of a couples counselor and finding a home that will support a healthier lifestyle.
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Celab and Molly Anderson are founders of recoveryhope.org which they founded after succesfully fighting together Caleb's opiate addiction which followed treatment for pain after a serious car accident. As Caleb said when he proposed this article "This is sort of my way of saying thank you to all those who helped me get into recovery--especially my wife."