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Being in Relationships with Partners Who Still Use

When we’re working towards sobriety, everything changes in our lives in order to support our recovery. We’re transforming our habits and routines. We’re developing completely new lifestyles for ourselves that support our efforts. We’re learning to replace our self-destructive patterns with healthy ones. We’re transforming our ways of thinking. We’re shedding things that don’t serve us – limiting beliefs, emotional responses, choices, and behaviors. One thing we can’t as easily replace or eliminate are the people we’re in relationships with. Many of us are still in relationships with the same people we were with before getting sober. Some of our partners are addicts who are still using and who aren’t yet in recovery. Some of our partners use but don’t self-identify as addicts. Being in relationships with partners who are still using is a very common and uniquely challenging experience that many of us share.

New to Sobriety

This particular relationship dynamic can be especially triggering for us if we’re not yet solid enough in our sobriety to be around people who are using. We might be brand new to the recovery process. We may feel like we’ve only barely begun to get comfortable in our own sobriety, and being around drugs is still too tempting or troubling. We may still have a lot of trauma healing work to do. We might still be struggling with underlying emotional issues that we haven’t resolved within ourselves and in our relationships. Many of us struggle with depression and other mental health issues, and we may or may not have been diagnosed as having mental illnesses that are functioning as co-occurring disorders alongside our addictions.

Lingering Temptation

Whatever other issues are still present for us, many of us are still very tempted by our drugs of choice. Even if our partner uses a different drug from our drug of choice, or is addicted to a behavior rather than to a substance, just being around someone who is demonstrating addictive tendencies can be triggering for us. We can have a hard time being around people who consider themselves to have addictive personalities, because their compulsiveness, recklessness and impulsiveness. Their lack of discernment and impaired judgment, are all traits we’re working hard to let go of in our own lives as we’re recovering. Simply being in the presence of someone who is using or struggling with their usage can make staying sober that much harder for us.

Our Partners’ Denial

Other people’s problematic substance use, or dependence on addictive behaviors, can be especially troubling to us. We might recognize that they have a problem but be afraid to share our concerns with them. We might have confronted them and even tried to help steer them in the direction of getting help. We might have staged confrontations with other loved ones. Our partners might still be using avoidance, denial, and suppression as coping mechanisms for their addictions, patterns many of us can relate to having struggled with in the past. Our partners might not want to believe that they too have a problem with addiction. As we know, it can be a painful truth to face.

The Dilemma

When we’re in this difficult position, of wanting so badly to be sober but feeling tied to our partners who are still using, we can go through a whole host of different emotions and difficult relationship issues. We might feel a great deal of inner turmoil and find ourselves deliberating about how to handle things. Should we prioritize our sobriety and end the relationship? Should we keep trying to help our partner get sober? We might obsess about our relationship dilemmas until they have completely taken over our lives. We might be arguing with our partners all the time. We might feel deeply sad at the thought of ending things with our partners because we still love them. We might feel guilty and ashamed of ourselves for wanting to leave our partners, especially if we’ve been through a lot with them, and especially if they have supported us through our struggles with addiction. We feel we can’t abandon these people we love so much, but at the same time, we know they are detrimental to our recovery.

Removing Sources of Vulnerability

Many of us find that staying with our partners automatically makes us more susceptible to relapsing, and we think part of our recovery should be removing these extra sources of vulnerability – the bad habits, the unhealthy relationship dynamics, the sources of unhappiness in our lives, all the different triggers for relapse. Many of us are still in codependent and unhealthy relationships and we’re struggling with relationship dynamics that often accompany addiction. Things like enabling each other’s patterns, lying to each other, manipulating one another, and being controlling. Some of us consider ourselves to be love and sex addicts, and the relationship itself feels like part of our addiction, another manifestation of our dependence issues, and one of our drugs of choice. For many of us, our relationships are not only bad for our sobriety, they’re directly fueling our addictions.

Prioritizing Self-Love

Our decision-making process around our relationships is an integral part of our recovery. How we handle our relationships and the choices we make within them determines how well we’ll do in our recovery because they are direct reflections of our readiness to put ourselves first. Are we ready to prioritize ourselves and our needs, whatever the cost? Are we ready to fully love ourselves? Have we learned yet that our mental and emotional health, our overall well-being, has to be the most important thing in our lives?

At The Guest House Ocala, our experience with addiction and recovery makes us uniquely equipped to be able to understand the struggles you’re experiencing.

We’re here to help.

Call 855-483-7800 today for more information on our treatment programs.

3230 Northeast 55th Avenue Silver Springs, FL 34488