Many people are in relationships with a partner who is recovering from some form of addiction. Generally, people in these relationships are not only supportive of their recovering partner but want to assist in the process of staying away from drugs and alcohol. While this process isn’t easy, there are steps you can take to help make your partner successful in recovery.

Learning About Addiction

One of the best ways to start helping is by learning more about the disease of addiction. Learning about addiction can help you understand the process of what a recovering person is going through both when using and when in recovery.

Notice the Signs

Another essential aspect for both the person in recovery and their partner is to learn relapse prevention techniques. Learning these techniques can help you better assist your partner by being a constant support through the difficult process of recovery. In addition, these techniques can help you learn to identify warning signs and patterns that have been in place before your partner used in the past. These signs might include extreme mood swings, sudden changes in routines like work schedules or recovery meeting schedules—people often stop going to meetings before relapsing—stopping their medications or experiencing traumatic events.

Another way to help is to participate in developing a relapse prevention plan with your partner that includes recovery meetings, maintaining good physical and mental health, balancing schedules to allow for a good night’s sleep and creating a written-out plan of action in case a relapse does occur.

Transparency and Feedback

People in recovery often struggle with sharing their thoughts and feelings about what is going on in their life, even with those they are closest to. As a significant other you see your partner at their most vulnerable times, even when they might not think it is showing. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they are doing and let them know if you are seeing strange behaviors or patterns.

Remember that you cannot fix your partner. They have to be ready to look at what is happening and make the changes themselves. However, sometimes people need help seeing things that they are doing. People do many things subconsciously, and when these things are brought to their attention, many will deny doing them. Encouragement and patience go a long way with a person in recovery.

Get Support for Relapse Prevention

It is also highly beneficial for partners of a person in recovery get involved in an Al-Anon group, which are groups specifically designed for family members of people with an alcohol use disorder. Al-Anon will teach you about dealing with a person in recovery and setting boundaries with them. Often in relationships you might end up in a role of picking up all the slack for the person so they can maintain the image of being a healthy functional family or couple up in the public eye.

A parable for this is the example of two jugglers facing each other, one being the person in recovery and the other being their partner. As the person in recovery gets sicker, they toss one of the balls over to the partner, increasing their burden. The partner receives the extra ball and works harder to maintain the load. This can go on for some time if the partner doesn’t know how to set boundaries and share the burden. Make sure you seek out support.

While it may seem daunting, there are many ways to help your significant other prevent relapse. Simply learning about addiction and relapse prevention can help you gain a better understanding of what your partner is going through and is a great first step. Looking out for warning signs and managing your thoughts and feelings helps the process. Finally, seeking out and maintaining support throughout the process is the final key to transforming yourself from the partner of a person in recovery to a life saver.