A significant other is supposed to be a person that acts as a source of strength in hard times. Normally a partner is a person you trust the most in the world but what happens when you’re dating a recovering addict? Addiction is a chronic disease that can make the person you love the most lie, steal, and put your mental health in danger.
So is it worth it? It depends. There are more ground rules when loving a recovering addict that must be followed to keep everyone safe and happy. At the end of the day, recovering addicts are people with medical disorders. Choosing to stay with them is a difficult choice with no right answer. But it’s possible and worth it with the right information.
Signs Your Partner Has An Addiction
Recognizing the signs of addiction in a relationship is tricky. Romantic partners may still not recognize that their loved ones suffer from addiction. This is partly due to romantic partners being more likely to trust their significant others and ignore the signs of addiction even though some may be apparent.
It’s important to talk to your romantic partners that suffer from substance use when it gets out of control. Of course, it will hurt. And they might get defensive and angry about it. But, it’s worth the discussion for the well-being of the relationship and the person who is struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder.
These signs and symptoms of addiction are worth talking about if you notice them:
- Pawning valuable items, like a wedding ring
- Lying about their spending habits
- Making up vague reasons for why they need more money
- A sudden change in physical appearance or personal hygiene
- Losing friends because of their alcohol and drug use
- Becoming friends with individuals who constantly drink and use drugs
- Increased irritability
- A drastic change in sleeping and eating patterns
- They are randomly energized and talkative followed by a depressed mood
- They start to exhibit signs of mental illness
When to Continue Dating a Recovering Addict
Loving a recovering addict is possible. However, sustaining a healthy romantic relationship with a recovering addict is impossible if he or she doesn’t get help.
When people find out that their significant others suffer from addiction, it can make them feel deceived. As if the ones that they want to spend their lives with can’t be trusted. It may be easier to cut ties and let go. This possibility is extremely painful in itself.
If individuals recognize that they have a substance use problem and want to fix it, it’s a relationship worth salvaging. The symptoms above may not signal an alcohol or substance use disorder. Though, it’s worth a conversation. If individuals that exhibit these substance addiction symptoms continue to get angry and deny their issues despite multiple attempts to help them, it may be time to move on. Otherwise, give them a chance to redeem themselves.
How To Preserve Your Mental Health Dating a Recovering Addict
Dating a recovering addict can be emotionally taxing. Sometimes it’s more important to preserve your mental health and leave them be, while other times it’s best to be a pillar of strength when your significant other needs it the most.
Many people with an addiction also suffer from a mental illness. It’s easy to get depressed and anxious as a result. That’s something that you’ll need to make note of if you choose to support your loved one through his or her addiction recovery journey.
Self-Care and Positive Activities for Your Mental Health
Certain self-care activities and positive behaviors can help people stay positive when they’re dating a recovering addict:
- Check-in with yourself. Try to do this every day to see where your mental health is at. Just like addiction, it’s necessary to catch failing mental health early on to make sure it doesn’t get any worse than it already is. If it’s getting worse, take action to make sure it gets better.
- Talk to loved ones. Addiction can make a person feel lonely. The same can be said about someone who chose dating a recovering addict. Reaching out to friends and family can help preserve mental health in trying times. They are there for you and can act as a source of strength when your partner doesn’t have the ability to.
- Take time every day to do things that make you happy. Part of maintaining mental health is self-care. Self-care doesn’t always mean spending lots of money and eating out all the time. Instead, it means taking simple pleasure in small, enjoyable activities. That could be taking a bubble bath or setting aside some time in the morning to read a book. It might be helpful to physically schedule time for you to do things that you enjoy.
- Consider natural mood boosters. There are essential oils and supplements that can help ward off anxiety and depression. It can help individuals get through a rough time without side effects.
How To Set Boundaries When Dating a Recovering Addict
Boundaries are a set of rules that dictate how a person should treat you. There are consequences when those rules are broken. Establishing boundaries is the core of salvaging a relationship that’s been hurt by addiction.
Establish boundaries based on how your significant other communicates with you. If he or she lies to you, what are the consequences? If your significant other takes out his or her frustration with addiction out on you, what will happen?
Additionally, it might be a good idea to set boundaries about personal belongings. Are you alright with your significant other going through your personal belongings? If not, make sure to clearly say so. Boundaries are important because they set expectations about how a significant other should act to maintain a healthy relationship.
The Don’ts of Dating a Recovering Addict
Don’t Blame Yourself For His or Her Addiction
When a significant other is suffering from an alcohol or substance use disorder, you might blame yourself. Even worse, your significant other might blame you completely for it. It might be valid to say that you played a part in it. If so, you might need to change your actions to help your loved one get through this dark period in their life.
Still, remember that addiction is a chronic disease that neither you nor your significant other has any control over. Keep this in mind instead of pointing fingers. If your significant other places all the blame for his or her addiction on you without taking any accountability, that person isn’t ready to be in a relationship.
Don’t Lose Sleep Over It Every Single Night
It’s understandable to be worried about a loved one when he or she is recovering from a serious addiction. Yet, being excessively worried won’t help anyone. If you’re up late at night worrying, it could hurt your health. Make sure that you’re getting enough sleep every night to stay mentally and physically fit. Think of negative thoughts as passing cars. Notice them, but watch them pass by and fade away.
Don’t Keep Feelings Bottled Up
Talk to your significant other about your feelings in a productive way without getting angry. Addressing an issue angrily can cause people to get defensive and angry right back. Alternatively, individuals may agree with their angry significant others just to appease them.
It’s tough to actively decide not to become emotional during an emotionally-charged conversation. Expressing how your significant other’s addiction hurts you calmly will be more productive with that extra effort.
Don’t Stay In the Relationship If They’re Not Putting In Any Effort
Is your significant other agreeing to get help without taking any action? Does he or she get defensive even though they clearly have an alcohol or substance use disorder? In that case, it may be time to let go.
Sometimes it takes a serious ultimatum to make someone see the error of their ways. Set a timeline. If they don’t get help by a certain time, give them the ultimatum.
Ways To Help Without Enabling When Dating a Recovering Addict
Make Nutritious Meals Together
Eating a healthy diet is important for physical and mental health. So, it’s even more important when a significant other is recovering from an alcohol or substance use disorder.
Encouraging your significant other to eat a nutritious diet by doing so yourself can benefit you both. Make meals full of different colors. Fruits and vegetables can help a recovering addict heal quicker.
Journal With Them
Don’t share a journal, but encourage them to process their feelings through writing by doing it too. Journaling is a fantastic way to figure out where negative thoughts arise from and possibly identify triggers. For people dating a recovering addict, it’s a positive way to avoid bottling up negative thoughts and emotions. Writing in a journal as little as 10 minutes a day can help.
Exercise releases feel-good chemicals similar to drugs and alcohol. Although it’s not in the same amount, it can help a recovering addict avoid relapse and feel happy in the process. This is one reason why many addiction treatment centers work exercise therapy into patients’ routines. It’s harder for someone to skip out on an activity if they have someone to do it with.
Attend Couples Therapy
Talking about negative feelings and emotions is great. But it can only go so far at times. This might be the case when loving a recovering addict. A therapist can help act as a guide and mediator to facilitate a productive conversation.
Hold Each Other Accountable For Bad Habits
It’s possible your bad habits aren’t helping your significant other stay sober. Again, an alcohol and substance use disorder is a complex medical condition that nobody can control. However, doing things like drinking a pack of beers every weekend doesn’t help you or your loved one struggling with an addiction. Hold your significant other accountable for their actions, but be ready to do the same.
Don’t Suffer Alone—Harmony Ridge Can Help
Dating a recovering addict without professional help might hurt you both in the process. We know that addiction can be damaging to a significant other just as much as the person recovering from an addiction.
Our evidence-based addiction treatment center in West Virginia offers support to those suffering from substance abuse and those that love them. We’re here to support you and your significant other along the road to recovery. Contact us now to get the help you both need.