If you, your partner, or both of you are recovering from substance use, supporting each other in tough times is vital to both your relationship and your recovery.
When issues arise, try to communicate and resolve your complications. You might have a long road ahead of you, but if you both stick together, the hard work will be worth it in the end. Your partner should be one of your biggest cheerleaders, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps along the way.
There are plenty of triggers and temptations that can come up when you’re in a relationship and learning how to avoid them and deal with them when they come will be an important step to stay sober.
Common Triggers in Relationships:
- Stress: Stress is the prominent cause of relapse since many people who struggle with addiction use substances as a way to combat stress. Relationships can cause stress if there’s any tension between you and your partner or through shared stress like financial troubles or a big move. One way to prepare for this trigger is to find ways to eliminate stress. Although you can’t completely excise stress from your life, you can avoid many stressful situations and learn how to cope with stress in healthier ways.
- Celebrations: Celebratory events you attend with your partner or throw for them — like birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays — can be triggering, too. Such events often have alcohol available, and you might think you can handle just having one drink. People who struggle with addiction frequently think one drink or one hit for old time’s sake won’t hurt, but beware: addiction has a way of hanging on and coming back. Therefore, that one drink could become a binge.
- Changes: Change is often hard to understand and deal with. It is common for people in early recovery to experience many levels of change. Your lifestyle and habits must change, you may need to find new employment and make new friends, and you and your partner must develop new ways of dealing with things together. You may feel pressure while trying to balance work, recovery, family, and your treatment program together. In addition, some people that have a substance use disorder also suffer from a mental health disorder that requires additional treatment, which interrupts your pre-recovery life.
How to Overcome Triggers
Stress, celebrations, and changes are all part of life and, while they can be triggering, there are ways to deal with them, so they don’t lead you to relapse.
- Acceptance: One reason some people relapse is that they feel caught off guard by the cravings and don’t know how to work through them. These urges are normal, and almost everyone who has had to detox or undergo recovery has to confront them. Acknowledge the fact that you made mistakes and be ready to accept the consequences. Then you will be able to make a plan to combat cravings that get triggered and move past them.
- Mindfulness: By being mindful of changes you need to make in your lifestyle, relationships, and priorities, you’ll be able to reduce the number of stressful situations in your life that can trigger a relapse. When you feel cravings coming on, using mindfulness practices can help you come up with things to do to take your mind off the cravings. You might join a fitness class, read, take a walk, or do something crafty. Have your partner help you find things to do instead of wallowing in cravings and negative emotions. Your partner can practice being mindful with you and remind you to do so when you’re slipping.
- Communicate with your partner: Understand your partner. Support them in their recovery. They need your constant encouragement and help. If both of you are recovering from substance use, you know on some level what they’re going through and can empathize. Try to avoid emotional disputes that might trigger a craving to use substances. Be each other’s support system by understanding what they need from you.
- Avoid triggers putting your sobriety in danger: To resist temptation, do your best to avoid people, places, or situations that are triggers for you or your partner. Similarly, calmly and compassionately work through issues between you and your partner so that stress or anxiety doesn’t emotionally trigger them. When triggers arise, your partner should know how to help take your mind off of using or drinking with agreed-upon tactics.
- Surround yourself with supportive people: If you discover yourself in a situation that will trigger your cravings, you’ll want supportive people around you, keeping your best interests in mind. Many people who relapse do so because they don’t have people around them trying to stop the habit from creeping back in. When you keep others around you and supporting you, they will either keep your mind off the cravings or remove you from things, preserving your sobriety.
Recovery Is A Lifelong Process
Unfortunately, the battle to end substance use isn’t over once you’ve achieved a few weeks or months of sobriety. Recovery is a lifelong process in which you need support from those closest to you. It’s crucial to understand ways to resist temptation and stay on the road to sobriety.
Your partner is your number one cheerleader and should help you along this journey, but relationships often come with their own set of problems and triggers.
This is a textbook reason why sober living is so valuable in treatment. Having an environment free from distractions, relationship drama, and other potential triggers is a fantastic resource to have. Often part of a drug rehab or addiction center, sober living homes can be a literal lifeline in addiction.
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