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The Heartbreak of Addiction: Coping When Your Significant Other Relapses

The Heartbreak of Addiction: Coping When Your Significant Other Relapses

If you live with someone with an addiction, you may feel like you’re not living at all. You love your partner, but dealing with the lies you so desperately want to believe and the deep denial that feeds their dependence have put the relationship under enormous strain. Life with an addicted partner can feel like a three-way struggle: you, your loved one, and an uninvited partner called substance abuse.

And all too often, the substance wins.

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Even when your significant other has sought help for their addiction, and through hard work and dedication has seemingly broken free from the overwhelming urge to use, the war is often not over. In fact, it rarely ends with the first battle. Relapse is common, and to watch the dependence resurface and the behaviours return is devastating. It’s like your world is imploding all over again.

What Does Addiction Feel Like?

When you can appreciate what your partner is going through, you’ll better understand the painful struggle they face when breaking an addiction. If you speak with those who have conquered their dependency on alcohol or other drugs, or have quit obsessive behaviours like gambling or overeating, they will tell you that their compulsion felt like an “insatiable hunger” or an “itch that couldn’t be scratched,” and that they would do anything for another fix. Changes in an addict’s brain chemistry can make it so that nothing feels manageable unless they are high. And along with the relentless cravings can come feelings of guilt, depression and self-loathing.

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The Journey Is Long, but Rewarding

Research shows the percentage of people who will relapse in their first year of sobriety can be as high as 90%. These may seem like pretty poor odds, but it shows the journey from addiction is a long one and there will almost surely be stumbles along the way. Do not take a relapse as a failure. It’s part of the recovery process and can actually give a loved one the opportunity to learn more about themselves and their triggers, strengthening their recovery in the long term.
When you discover your partner has relapsed, you will likely feel let down, cheated and hurt, but you must focus on taking steps to address the issue. Your significant other needs your love and support. Resist any temptation to judge; instead, stand firmly beside them as they restart their recovery. Remember, however, to take care of yourself. Consider individual therapy or join a support group such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Staying healthy is one of the most important things you can do to provide the support your partner needs.

It Is Not Your Battle, but You Are a Key Player

You cannot control or “fix” an addict. You can’t force someone to get sober. However, you are a vital part of their support network and there are things you can do to help them:

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  • Encourage and love them – Their addiction may leave them feeling shameful and hopeless, which is a recipe for escaping back to drugs.
  • Boost their willpower – Addiction can feel like an endless loop that the addict just can’t break out of. You can be part of their reason to quit. They have done it before. They can do it again.
  • Set a good example – Make sure you don’t have alcohol or other drugs in the house, and don’t drink alcohol in their presence.
  • Keep them healthy – Go to the gym together or just for a run. Exercising is a natural way to stimulate the production of endorphin’s — the brain’s natural “feel good” chemicals. Also, make sure they’re eating nutritious food. A proper diet is vital to the healing process.

Get Help

You and your partner do not have to fight this battle on your own. There are highly qualified doctors and therapists who have dedicated their lives to helping people recover from addiction.  And if relapse happens, get help again. Many people need more than one stay in alcohol or drug rehab to overcome the power of addiction.

Relapse Is Nobody’s Fault

Finally, do not blame yourself or your partner for a relapse. Addiction is a formidable foe and the journey to sustained sobriety can take years. You may feel as though you have let down your partner or they may say it’s your fault that they relapsed. Do not fall into the trap of blame and anger. If a confrontation begins to brew, walk away. Beneath the hostility and addiction is the person you love and they need you more than ever. Do not give up hope. People have recovered from the most entrenched addictions. Your loved one can recover, too.

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More Advice and Information

To learn more about supporting a loved one in recovery, check out these helpful articles from The Right Step.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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