Addiction is a complex condition that can be extremely difficult to deal with. It can damage your physical and mental health, but it is not only the person with the addiction who is affected. Addiction, substance misuse and all the related behaviours can also take a toll on loved ones and other people around you.

When your partner has an addiction, it can be not easy to deal with. There can be a fine line between being supportive and enabling destructive behaviour. There are certain things you can do to help, but there are also many challenges – both emotional and practical – that you may have to deal with.


Recognising the Signs of Addiction in Your Partner

There are a number of signs of addiction that you might start to notice. In a lot of cases, the addiction may develop gradually rather than producing sudden big changes, making it more difficult to recognise. You may need to step back and take stock of a situation that has become almost normalised.

Some signs of addiction to look out for could include:

  • Directly observing them regularly drinking to excess or using drugs
  • Secrecy, lying and hiding the evidence
  • Regular intoxication
  • Avoiding situations where they can’t drink or use drugs
  • Drinking or using drugs in very inappropriate situations, such as when looking after children, driving or going to work
  • Mood swings, aggressive behaviour
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Lack of concern over appearance or personal hygiene
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Minor illnesses and infections
  • Trouble at work
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Inability to deal with stress – goes straight to alcohol or drugs

Some of these could also be signs of other underlying issues. There might also be other signs of addiction, but if any of the above apply, there might be a substance misuse problem at the heart of it.


Approaching the Subject with Your Partner

It can be challenging to know how to approach the subject when your partner is struggling with addiction, but silence will only make the problem worsen. It is essential to be supportive but also to let them know how their addiction and substance misuse are affecting you. It is always best to do so calmly and without accusations, if possible. This can be difficult, of course, especially as they are likely to be defensive or in denial. Talking about addiction with a loved one can be a balancing act, and you might want to access some professional support and advice.

In some cases, especially when the person will not accept that they have a problem, a family intervention might be the best solution. At Ocean Recovery, we can help you gain a better understanding of addiction and the effects it will have on your loved one. Family support can help not just the person with the addiction and their partner but also any children, other family members and others in the family and social circle.


Understanding Your Role in Their Recovery

There are things you can do to aid your partner’s recovery, but again, there can be a balancing act – this time between being supportive and enabling their drinking or drug use.

Enabling behaviours include:

  • Providing money or helping them secure alcohol or drugs
  • Drinking or taking drugs with them
  • Making excuses for or minimising the impacts of their behaviour
  • Taking responsibility for their behaviour and its impacts
  • Accepting blame for their substance use or behaviour

Some things can seem supportive but may ultimately be enabled, such as taking on more of your share of responsibilities with children, around the house or in other areas.

You can be supportive, but at the end of the day, recovery is always the ultimate responsibility of the person with the addiction.


What to Do When Your Partner Has an Addiction

One thing you can do is educate yourself on the subject of addiction and find out what options are available. This way, you can offer practical solutions and ways forward when and if your partner is ready to seek help.

This could involve contacting mutual support organisations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), charitable organisations, or local drug and alcohol services. You can also access partner addiction support from various sources.

Private addiction treatment specialists like Ocean Recovery can also provide help and advice and the most effective treatment for your partner to make a full and long-lasting recovery.


Taking Care of Yourself When Your Partner Has an Addiction

While your support can be very important to your partner’s recovery, you also need to take care of yourself. You won’t be much help if you burn yourself out anyway, but you also owe it to yourself to make sure your well-being is taken into account.

Again, you might want to seek help from either support groups or professionals working in the fields of substance misuse and addiction recovery.

As well as professional providers like Ocean Recovery, you can call on resources such as:

  • Adfam
  • DrugFAM
  • Families Anonymous

You could also speak to your GP, who will be able to point you towards local groups and organisations in confidence.


Supporting Your Partner By Seeking Professional Treatment

Sometimes, you might have to make the very difficult decision to remove yourself from your partner. This could especially be the case if there are children involved, if your partner is aggressive or abusive or if they are in denial and refuse to seek help.

Dealing with a partner who has an addiction can be very difficult. There are lots of things to consider, including your health and well-being. Support for your partner must be carefully balanced with self-care, and it can certainly help you get professional guidance.

At Ocean Recovery, we can provide support for families and partners, including a structured family intervention service. We also offer free access to telephone support for any friends or relations before, during and after a drug and alcohol rehab treatment programme. If you need confidential help or advice as the partner of somebody struggling with an addiction, get in touch today.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: April 5, 2024

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.