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Relapses in Relationships: An Overview
If you’re in recovery and have a significant other in recovery, there is always a chance that one of you will experience a relapse. If your significant other relapses, knowing what to do and how to protect yourself does not come easy.
But in the end, protecting yourself from a relapse must be your priority. Recovery must be the most important thing to you. Without your recovery, you won’t have the life you want, and if you end up relapsing as well, you could completely tear down the life you have rebuilt. All of the time, effort, and care you’ve put into your recovery could come crashing down.
In this guide, we help you navigate this difficult situation. We hope it provides some clear answers.
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- The Reality of Recovery: Relapses Happen
- Suspecting a Relapse and Confirming it
- Once You Have Confirmation, This is What You Need to Do
- If I Know They are Using, Should I Leave or Kick Them Out?
- What if they Don’t Want to Get Help?
The Reality of Recovery: Relapses Happen
Unfortunately, the risk of relapse is just the reality that comes with loving anyone who has a drug and alcohol problem; however, the choices you make for your recovery and how you handle the situation from the beginning can make a difference in how things turn out.
If your significant other, whether spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, has relapsed, 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.
Adopting a realistic attitude towards the situation is essential. It can mean the difference between life or death, and this isn’t said to be dramatic.
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, this 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 dishonest and won’t admit that they 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.
As someone in recovery, know and trust your intuition and instincts. You know exactly what drug and alcohol use looks like. There are telltale signs that you even you couldn’t hide when you were using or drinking.
Taking the next step and approaching your loved one using assertive communication skills is important. Understandably, it will be difficult to muster up a calm demeanor in a deeply complex situation like this. Don’t go in mentally and emotionally unprepared. Give yourself time to assess the situation.
When you do ask the questions, be direct but not aggressive.
A few examples of ways you can ask your significant other if they’ve relapsed are:
- I’ve noticed a change in your behavior, and I’m a little worried for you. Did you slip up and start using?
- Over the last few weeks, you just haven’t been yourself. To protect my recovery, I have to ask are you using?
- Would you be willing to take a drug test to help me feel better about what I’m noticing?
The way your significant other reacts to being asked these questions, or especially being asked to take a drug test can speak volumes. At times, it can even almost confirm it for you.
Once you have confirmed that there truly has been a relapse, you can start putting boundaries into place and plan how you will deal with the situation.
Once You Have Confirmation, This is What You Need to Do
Once you have confirmed that your loved one has relapsed, you have to promise yourself to make no compromises with your recovery. You must continue to do the same things that you always do to upkeep and maintain your sobriety.
Talk to Someone You Trust About The Situation
It’s important that you not give in to 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 it someone you trust about the situation without feeling judged. Find someone to talk to who embodies love and non-judgment but will still give you the straightforward truth. For the sake of your recovery, this is not something that you should be keeping a secret under any circumstances.
The person you reach out to could be a close friend, family, or you’re involved in a 12-step program, a sponsor. Finding immediate support (in the right places) will be an important component of handling this situation in the healthiest way possible. Usually, those who are in your recovery support system will have good tips to help you through.
Don’t Try to Exert Control Over Your Partner
Go into the situation from the beginning with the understanding that you cannot control the choice that your significant other makes. The recovery choices they make, or if they choose to begin the recovery process again, are up to them.
Come to Terms With the Fact that You May Have to Leave Your Partner
There is a real possibility that you will have to remove yourself from the situation if it continues to decline.
Yes, you have to be willing to come to terms with the fact that you may have to leave your significant other. The choice they make about their recovery from here on out is totally in their hands.
Suppose you are in a position where you can’t immediately leave. In that case, it’s probably best to develop a strategy to ensure that you stay on top of your sobriety while living under the same roof as your significant other.
In a perfect world, your partner would make the right decision and begin the process of recovery immediately. But as we know all too well, this isn’t always the case, and you must be prepared that this relapse could be a permanent one.
“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 I Know They are Using, Should I Leave or Kick Them Out?
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.
Still, if you’re in a position where you can remove yourself—especially after your significant other has shown through their actions that they are not ready to get clean and sober, it’s without a doubt the best step you can take.
Realizing 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 the relationship is permanently over. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t love your partner.
If anything, it will show your significant other that you’re serious about your recovery and will not hang around to watch them 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, the decision to leave is up to you. Do not risk your recovery for anyone.
What if theDon’t’t Want to Get 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 are risking your life. You must be realistic and ask yourself what you can do to ensure that you don’t relapse.
Suppose you’re in early recovery, with only a little bit of time being sober. In that case, you run an extremely high likelihood of relapse, especially if you and your significant other share the same drug of choice.
Knowing that your loved one is using may bring up triggers and cravings that threaten your recovery. 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—it’s not the best choice that you can make for yourself.
Even if you’re not sure they’ll accept the help, we can go over options. We’ll help give you the information you need to move forward.
If you’re interested in getting your significant other, who has relapsed into treatment give us a call. Give us a call at (888) 906-0952. Even if they are not yet full ready, we can discuss the options available and the best plan to move forward.
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Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 11/30/2021
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