When your partner is an addict, especially if he or she is not in treatment or recovery, it can be difficult to have a healthy relationship. However, before you throw in the towel, Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center is here to tell you that with help, it is possible to repair your bond.
Addiction Affects More Than the User
If you’re in love with an addict, you know firsthand the negative impact addiction can have. Addiction is a “family disease” and when a loved one has a problem with substance abuse, it affects everyone that is close to them. Some typical relationship problems include frequent arguments, lack of trust, loss of intimacy, secrecy, financial issues, conflicts over parenting, and feelings of isolation, anger, and resentment. In some cases, behaviors associated with addiction can lead to aggression and safety concerns.
Remember, you are not alone; according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) are dealing with a substance use disorder, with almost 80% having a problem with alcohol. 8 million people suffer from both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder.
It goes without saying that loving an addict is not easy, and it’s likely that there have been times when you have asked yourself whether it’s worth the pain. As experts in the field of relationships, we can assure you that there are steps you can take to strengthen the bond between you and your loved one, and help them successfully deal with their addiction.
To have an emotionally healthy relationship, there are two essential components: boundaries and communication. Both people need to feel listened to, supported, and connected, while still maintaining a sense of independence. Unfortunately, when a couple is dealing with addiction, good communication and boundaries are almost always lacking.
Establishing Personal Boundaries with an Addict
In terms of boundaries, there is a fine line between providing support without enabling the addicted person or becoming codependent. These relationships, especially prior to treatment, are often characterized by poor or absent limit setting. You may feel the need to make excuses and cover for your loved one, as well as find yourself living a life that revolves around his or her behaviors.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with an addict is a two-person job— it’s not just about the person with the addiction getting help. It is common for the non-addict to develop patterns of excessive caretaking or to fall into the role of savior or martyr. In codependent relationships, the person’s addiction and the need to care for him or her may fill an underlying desire to feel needed or wanted, creating a destructive cycle that’s difficult to break without the assistance of a trained professional.
In order to provide healthy support, you need to take care of your own emotional health. Depending upon your situation, this may mean individual counseling or attending support groups such as Al-Anon, Co‐Dependents Anonymous, or Families Anonymous.
Seeking the assistance of a relationship counselor can be extremely beneficial when it comes to setting limits and establishing boundaries related to how to handle continued use or relapses.
One of the first steps towards maintaining a healthy relationship with an addict is to get the condition under control. A relationship counselor can play a crucial role in the intervention process, providing a safe place for you to express the impact addiction has on your life, as well as your concerns for your partner’s health and safety.
Communicating within an Addictive Relationship
Great communication is essential for any relationship, but when it come to addiction, this is often one the major problems a couple will face. When one person is actively using, lies and secrecy are typical behaviors, which leads to a lack of trust and resentment. If this is coupled with explosive or aggressive behaviors while under the influence, the partner may develop fear and concern for both their physical and emotional safety.
Even after treatment is sought and a person is in recovery, it will take time to regain a sense of respect and trust again. For the recovering addict, issues of shame, depression, and low self-esteem, as well as learning better (healthier) ways to cope with stress and emotions are frequently experienced. By learning to effectively talk about these things, a couple can start to rebuild the wounded relationship.
In many ways, it’s as if the couple is starting all over again, and will need to establish new, healthy ways to communicate. Because these patterns took time to develop, seeking the assistance of a relationship counselor is a proven, effective way to get past the pain and learn to trust each other again.
What is a Relationship Counselor?
A relationship counselor is someone who specializes in working with couples who are having difficulties within their relationship. They have extensive training and can help you deal with many relational problems that are common when addiction or substance abuse is present. This includes conflict resolution, forgiveness, emotional control, reestablishing trust and intimacy, and communication building.
Many married people seek the assistance of a relationship counselor, but if you are a seriously involved with someone who is an addict and believe the relationship is worth saving, meeting with a trained couples counseling therapist before you tie the knot can help to address the issue early.
In addition to working on the communication and trust issues within the coupling unit, there are relationships counselors who specialize in working with the entire family unit. Family interventions are often a first step in the recovery process and research has shown that substance abuse treatment that includes spousal and family involvement can improve recovery rates, reduce the number of relapses, and relieve stress.
Couples Relationship Counseling Can Help Repair the Damage of Addiction
People say time can heal all wounds, but when it comes to addiction, the damage has often occurred over a process of years and forgiveness is not always easy. Our professional couples counselors are here to address these issues, with the goal of restoring your relationship in a caring, supportive environment.
If you and a loved one are dealing with addiction and want help with rebuilding your connection, contact a Little Rock Couples Counseling Therapist by calling (877) 452-9515. With locations in both Little Rock and Benton, experienced staff can help you and your partner reestablish a healthy relationship.