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How to Help an Addicted Partner Without Enabling Them

Addiction is a difficult subject and circumstance to confront, but it takes on an entirely new level when it happens to someone you love, especially, a significant other. As their partner, you will naturally feel confused, helpless,or frightened at times when your partner isn’t sober. During these vulnerable moments, it is imperative that you remain self-aware of how you treat your partner, do not enable them in any way to continue their addiction, and maintain your composure.

Enabling an addict means helping them in a way that prevents them from suffering or understanding the consequence of their actions. To you, it may feel you are improving the situation; but in reality, it is the complete opposite.

This is how to help an addicted partner without enabling them:

Don’t deny the reality of their addiction

Never downplay an addiction or the behaviors caused by it. The truth is: your partner has an addiction and abuses substances. Pretending otherwise is harmful for you, your partner, and the relationship. Living in denial of your partner’s addiction can actually make it worse and unconsciously create resentment.

Remember that you cannot control their actions

No matter how many times you support and motivate your partner to change, they are the only ones who can overcome their addiction and fix themselves. The only things you can control are your own actions.The acceptance of this fact is the first step in knowing what your limitations are and helping your partner move towards recovery.

Set boundaries

Set both emotional and physical boundaries such as refusing to engage with your partner when they are drunk or high, or let them take care of themselves during an episode. By removing this safety net, your partner is then forced to confront circumstances they ultimately caused and will be propelled to act independently. While this is uncomfortable and maybe even heartbreaking to do, your partner will suffer more and continue their addictive behaviors when you make their choices for them. They need to learn how to rely on themselves and cope with the events that are a result of their addiction.

Hold respectful and honest conversations with them

Always be honest about your concerns, expectations, and emotions. Subsequently, while it’s tempting to yell or explode on your partner when they are sober, refrain from doing so. Whenever they are sober, only speak to them in a respectful way. Yes, they have an addiction, but they are still a human being that deserves to be treated with dignity. These conversations can also be opportunities to encourage them to change their ways and enter the road to recovery and seek medically assisted treatment.

Seek outside help and perspectives

Seek outside perspectives from trusted friends and family, group therapy and support groups, or professional help. The perspective of another individual who is not emotionally attached to your relationship can help you see the situation of the addiction and offer their advice on how to deal with it since they understand how your mind works, are qualified, or have had the same experiences. These people will validate your circumstances and emotions, as well as empathize with you.

Prioritize your well-being above theirs and all else

While it’s instinctive to care about your partner more than yourself, that is actually the wrong and unhealthy thing to do. You have your own life in addition to having this relationship with your partner. In this case, being selfish is necessary. Otherwise, you end up sacrifice your own well-being for the sake of another person.

What ultimately matters when helping a loved one who is an addict is making healthy choices while at the same time supporting them. Addiction will only get easier once a person confronts the fact that they have one and then takes action to live a life of permanent sobriety.

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