How You and Your Loved One Can Get Through Addiction
Opioid abuse can affect anyone and cause excessive pain. Its impact on relationships and families can be devastating. If you're the partner of a person with an opioid abuse, it can be distressing even looking for evidence of misuse. No matter the upset, however, it's important to be open about addiction, and encourage treatment. Only through recognizing addiction and committing to treatment can couples start to heal and rebuild a relationship.
The Warning Signs
Looking for indications of opioid abuse can be difficult, especially if they are hesitant to discuss any of your suspicions. There will be many physical symptoms, such as nausea, drowsiness, and constricted pupils, but other signs can give the sort of tangible evidence necessary to discuss what can be a hugely sensitive matter. You may notice extra pill bottles in the garbage, or that your loved one has been taking more than their prescribed dosage. Sudden financial issues may arise that can't be easily explained. Your loved one may become less social and more avoidant of their interests and responsibilities. It will be important to look out for any patterns of behavior that either contribute to or enable addiction.
The stereotype of intervention, as portrayed by popular media, is one of confrontation. Dealing with addiction, however, may require much more tact to be successful as “tough love” interventions can be counterproductive. Arguing, even pleading, is likely to fall on deaf ears. Being the partner of an person with a substance abuse disorder is distressing, of course, but it's important to pursue positive communication as a crucial step to recovery. Encourage your partner to recognize their addiction, and help them move on from denial. Seeking professional support will be essential. This could include treatment at a recovery center, either as an inpatient or outpatient, and some form of addiction therapy. Recovery will be an ongoing process, and likely require a combination of treatments. All this can be overwhelming, so consider support for yourself as well. Some groups can provide a space where your experiences will resonate with others, giving you a place to seek advice and be listened to.
Repairing the damage addiction causes is along-term process, both for recovery and the rebuilding of relationships. With time and patience, things can get better. Together with professional recovery support, it can be truly beneficial to commit to couples therapy. This can become an essential part of the healing process, as it can create a supportive environment that can encourage greater openness about the struggles that are being faced, and provide guidance for self-care. While professional support is key, consider also pursuing activities that you can do as a couple that are separate from recovery. Shared experiences, whether it's learning new skills or volunteering locally, can help some way to mending the relationship. Not only that, but it may give someone going through recovery much-needed purpose and focus to further strengthen their commitment to sobriety. There will be plenty of challenges, and some of the hardest will be dealing with forgiveness, understanding, and restoring trust as you both continue to heal.
Sometimes, unfortunately, no matter what is done, healing may be possible only through separation. It can be heartrending to reconcile yourself with such a proposition. You may already have been advised by a counselor to practice positive reinforcement, wherein you spend time with your partner only when they are not impaired by substances. But this, of course, is different. Communicating this is important, but even the prospect of separation can do little if the addiction has taken such a desperate toll on your loved one. Nevertheless, if your own well-being is in peril, or you have children, separation may ultimately be the most viable option for everyone concerned.
Addiction is a treatable condition. Through patience and understanding, couples can rebuild their relationship, heal whatever damage there is, and create a healthy future free of substance abuse. Couples may find that communication and trust has been strengthened through their experiences. The process will be hard and addiction will not be overcome quickly, but it's important to remember that healing will be possible no matter what happens to the relationship.