Published On: April 8, 2024Categories: Addiction Treatment, EducationalComments Off on How Do I Talk to My Addicted Partner?

It’s rarely easy to understand why someone who is addicted makes the choices they do. When that person is a lover, fiancé, or spouse — there is no avoiding the chaos of addiction. Sooner or later, the craziness will leak into your work and impact you. Even before it does, you’re likely tormented with worry. Simultaneously angry and afraid and feeling powerless over your loved one’s disease.

Watching someone you love losing the battle with drug and alcohol addiction can be a harrowing experience. Here’s some advice on talking to your addicted partner.

Is My Partner Using Drugs?

Before any talk, you should have good reason to suspect your partner or spouse may have a substance use disorder. It isn’t always as easy to tell. If you haven’t caught them red-handed in the act or found drugs or alcohol stashed away someplace, it’s hard to be certain your loved one is addicted.

Behavioral signs that may indicate a substance use disorder:

  • Out-of-character secrecy or paranoia.
  • Unusually energetic or lethargic and sleepy
  • Money problems, unexplained spending.
  • New “friends” or contacts they are reluctant for you to meet.
  • Abandoning activities they once loved, sports, hobbies, etc.
  • Shutting out well-intentioned friends or family members. 

Physical signs that may indicate drug or alcohol abuse:

  • Slurred speech 
  • Strange sleeping patterns or too little/too much sleeping.
  • Excessive scratching at the neck, arms, etc. may be a sign of opioid abuse. 
  • Scratching at the face or arms that creates wounds may be a sign of meth use. 
  • Red, bloodshot eyes or extremely dilated pupils. 

Practical Tips for Dealing with an Addicted Partner or Spouse

While you don’t want to jump to conclusions just because your wife or husband has the sniffles or is scratching at his neck a bit — you also must take care to avoid denial. The practical approach to deciding what to do about a loved one who may have an addiction is to lay out all your evidence and examine it. 

If you find you have more than 2 or 3 of the times in the lists above — that’s a red flag. 

You might also consider discussing your suspicions with someone you absolutely trust to keep it private. Sometimes an outside perspective can be very helpful. When we’re too close to someone, we may be at risk for denial, enabling, or codependency. Checking in with a trusted confidant could help keep those tendencies in check. 

Talking to Your Partner or Spouse About Substance Abuse

If you decide there is enough evidence to suggest your partner is addicted — or you have irrefutable proof, then it’s time to talk about it. The key thing to remember in your approach is your goal. Your goal should be to get your addicted partner or spouse the help they need — or at minimum, open a dialogue. 

Remember: Listening to your partner or spouse and tabling your anger and frustration does not mean you’re excusing any of the harm done. It just means that for right now, you understand that getting them help is THE most important thing. The time for amends and repairing damage will come later — it is an integral part of the recovery process, in fact. 

Set Goals and Boundaries When Talking to a Loved One About Addiction

Your goal should not be to vent your anger or frustrations. That doesn’t mean your feelings are unjustified. We tell you to try to keep the anger and emotion under control because it’s counterproductive. It goes against your goal of getting your loved one help for addiction. If that’s going to happen — they need to feel loved and they need to feel safe in telling you the truth. 

Here is our best advice for talking to your partner about drinking or drugging: 

  • Avoid shaming, blaming, or guilt-tripping — they only make things worse.
  • Keep your anger and resentment in check. It may help to vent them elsewhere, for now.
  • Listen to them: You mustn’t do all the talking. Let them speak and listen to what they say. 
  • Have a plan:  Don’t approach your loved one without a plan to get them help.  
  • Remind them that you love them and you only want what is best for them. 
  • Set boundaries: Avoid codependence — do not lose sight of your own needs. 

Quality Addiction Help for the People You Love Most

Watching a husband, wife or partner spiral out of control due to addiction is frightening and frustrating. It’s easy to feel helpless — but North Jersey Recovery Center is here to tell you, you’re not.  

You don’t have to face the challenge of getting the person you love the help they need alone. The addiction specialists at NJRC are available to help 24 hours a day. Call or chat with us online and together, we will find a solution that works for you both. 

The healing cannot begin until the conversation does. 

Call (877) 790-5873