Does the person you date still use? Just because you break up with drugs and alcohol doesn’t mean you want to break up with your partner. Here are a few things you can do to maintain your relationship without threatening your recovery.

Relationship Advice for Early Recovery

Early stages of recovery have slightly different risk factors than later stages. The temptation to use is the highest in early recovery. You may experience frequent drug cravings. Certain places, movies, smells, and sounds might trigger you to want to use. In the early stages of recovery, it’s critical to distance yourself from these temptations.

If your partner still uses, entirely distancing yourself from temptations can be nearly impossible.  Outside of getting your own place, here are a few tips for reducing the risk of relapse.

1. No Drugs or Alcohol Allowed In the House

Depending on the level of drug or alcohol addiction that your partner has, this may be easier said than done. The safest thing for your recovery is to remove drugs and alcohol from the house entirely. If your partner insists on getting drunk every night, they may need to spend more time at a friends house and drink there. The sense of smell has a direct connection to the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. It’s also the part of the brain that’s most closely tied to memory. Triggering memories of using is a recipe for relapse. Smells aside, relapsing is easier when the bottle is only a few steps away in comfort of your own home. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Keep substances out of the house.

2. Schedule Plenty of Time Apart

Try to spend as much time apart as you can during the early stages of drug and alcohol recovery. Once you’re feeling less triggered to use, you can get back to being together more often. Even if there’s no alcohol or drugs present in the house, the smell will still be on your partner’s breath and clothes. For the sake of your recovery, you should be around their intoxicated behavior as little as possible. The time apart will give you time to reflect. Recovery is a time of great change. It helps to have time to unwind. Even if your partner wasn’t using, the alone time would still be an asset to your recovery.

3. Make Friends Who are Committed to Recovery

What are you going to do with all the time away from your partner? Make friends that are committed to recovery! Better yet, make meaningful relationships with positive, happy people who are excited about sobriety. You’re going to need a lot of pro-sobriety energy to compensate for the adverse effects that your partner’s using may have on your recovery.


4. Speak Openly About Your Partner’s Impact on Your Recovery

Your partner’s drug use is a threat to your recovery. Your partner living with your while using is an even bigger threat. Don’t hesitate to let them know. When you feel their behavior putting you in a lousy mood, triggering temptations to use, or pushing you towards relapse in any way, they need to know about it. If they care about you, they’ll try to adjust. 


Relationship Advice for Mid to Late Recovery

Once you’ve gotten at least several months between you and your drug or alcohol use, you can focus on enhancing your life and relationship with sobriety. At this point, your drug cravings should be behind you. You may still feel triggered to use in certain situations, but you’ll have the skills to manage them. The risk of relapse is lower. Now is when you can leverage sobriety to strengthen your relationship. You may even convince your partner to get sober without even trying!

1. Inspire Your Partner with Happiness

The best way to inspire your partner to get clean is to lead by example. You’re already doing that, but what they really need to know is that sobriety leads to happiness. If you’re sober and depressed, all you’ll hear are a lot of “I-told-you-so’s.” Positive energy is infectious. When the person you’re with is persistently happy, it rubs off. There is flip-side to this coin. Your partner’s negative energy can rub off on you too. When your partner is struggling to be happy, you need to protect your sobriety first. If you need space, take it. You’re no use to yourself or the health of the relationship if you relapse.


2. Impress Yourself with Your Accomplishments

Be ambitious in your recovery. Set goals to do things that you’ve always wanted to do and do them. Recovery is your opportunity to prove to yourself and your partner that sobriety is the best way to go. Stockpile as much irrefutable evidence as you can that sobriety is the route to a fulfilling life. The more you do incredible things, the harder it will be for that devil on your shoulder to talk you into relapsing.

3. Talk A Lot About How Much You Enjoy Being Sober

Be vocal about how much you enjoy recovery! Be proactive about letting your partner know that you’re on the right path, that you enjoy sobriety, and that you’re there to stay. Know that this may push your spouse to the breaking point of staying with you. You can’t fully embrace recovery if you can’t be vocal about how much you enjoy it. Diminishing your positive feelings about sobriety for the sake of your partner is never an option. If they aren’t willing to change, they at least have to allow you to grow.



Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is committed to providing you with the highest quality of care in a safe, non-judging environment.  Your road to recovery starts here.   To schedule a tour of our facility, make an appointment for an evaluation, or just have questions about your options, call Stonewall Institute Treatment Center today:  602-535-6468.