couple sity by a lake pondering sobriety

Can Your Relationship Survive If Your Partner Isn't Sober Too?


Sober Recovery Expert Author

couple sity by a lake pondering sobriety

Couples that fight addiction together sometimes have a tough uphill climb. Sure, when both partners go in full force for treatment, they have a great chance of recovering together and enjoying a harmonious relationship. But what about when only one partner wants to sober up? Can the relationship thrive when the other partner is still out there drinking?

If you want to kick the addiction and your partner doesn’t, you have to do some serious consideration because quitting gets even tougher when the booze or drugs are right in front of you. As strong as you think you are when it comes to fighting the temptation, the reality is that when addicts are surrounded by triggers, their chances of staying clean are reduced significantly.

It's not impossible for two alcoholics to have a lasting relationship, although it typically alludes to mayhem, drama and dysfunction, especially when one decides to take different paths.

With that said, your relationship can still survive even if your partner isn’t sober. However, you have to understand that it’s going to take major work on your part. You’ll have to fully dedicate yourself to recovery and ask for the necessary help in order to do so. Your partner may come around down the road or he may not, but your own sobriety should be your sole focus at the moment. For now, keep your eyes on your own recovery so that you can have the strength and courage to stay sober and grow to your full potential.

Here are some tips to help your relationship survive even if your partner is not sober.

1. Get into treatment.

It is important for you to get addiction treatment so you can get the help you need to sober up and recover. Whether you attend a rehab or meet with a substance abuse counselor, the key is to help you manage the withdrawal symptoms you may have and learn valuable day-to-day skills essential to living sober and free.

2. Advocate for couples therapy.

If you can get your partner to agree to couples therapy, go for it. It can help the both of you work out any issues that may arise as you venture off to a different path. Perhaps the therapist may even be able to get your partner to understand his or her own addiction disease and agree to join you in your recovery journey.

3. Lovingly detach.

In some cases, addicts become codependent on their partners. If you’ve been known to have an unhealthy attachment with your significant other, lovingly detach. You may need some help from a counselor or a support group like Co-dependents Anonymous, as you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory. This time, you’ll have to take full responsibility for your own happiness and leave your partner’s happiness level in his or her own hands.

4. Build a support network.

It may become frustrating that you are doing the work to stay sober and your partner is not. It will benefit you to build a support network so that you have others to share your recovery successes and struggles, help you vent when you need to, and provide you with encouragement and motivation. It’s also alright to add your partner to your recovery support team, granted that he or she is alright with encouraging you to stay the course.

5. Let go if need be.

As you progress in your recovery, you may run into a situation where your partner decides to continue acting on his or her addiction. At some point, you may even have to decide whether to stay in the relationship despite it all or simply let your partner go. This will depend on various factors, including whether or not your partner is supportive of your sobriety, whether you are triggered by the active addiction in your home, whether the addiction is causing a lot of drama, and so on. It would be a great idea to discuss these issues with a counselor, as either decision will require you to contend with change.

Two addicts together make it almost impossible to enjoy a healthy relationship. One addict and one clean person can make a relationship work depending on a variety of factors, but normally the addiction causes some issues. The best case scenario is still to have both people stop acting on their addiction and pursue a solid recovery together. This helps ensure their growth as individuals and as a couple. At the end of the day, your relationship can in fact survive if your partner isn’t sober, but chances are slim that it is going to thrive.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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