How To Talk To Your Partner About Their Addiction


My Husband or Wife is Addicted

The realization that your significant other is addicted to drugs or alcohol is never easy to swallow. You may have suspected something was wrong for some time depending on the circumstances. Or perhaps you’ve just uncovered undeniable evidence that your partner is engaged in alcohol or drug abuse and you’re still in shock.

Whatever the case may be, you aren’t alone. As impossible as this problem may seem, the team here at Redemption Recovery wants you to know there is a way forward. No matter what your story is, we will help you make sense of the chaos. Most importantly, we can help you plan to get your spouse or partner the addiction treatment they need, even if you think they might not be ready. 

Take Addiction Denial Seriously

Denial can be one of the biggest obstacles to recovery from addiction. Often the angry denial comes from the person with the substance use disorder. They resent being accused of drinking or using. Or perhaps they downplay the amount they’re actually using or claim to be “cutting back”.

Counteracting a loved one’s denial about addiction can really be tough, but don’t forget to check yourself for this fault as well. None of us wants to believe the worst about someone we love. Unfortunately, that instinct can sometimes work against us. We may try to deny troubling signs of addiction we’ve seen in a romantic partner or spouse. 

We buy their flimsy excuses or even make excuses for them ourselves. You might find yourself covering for a husband with a drinking problem, telling people he’s just “been sick”. Or covering for a fiancée who is struggling with an addiction to painkillers. “Oh, yeah, she’s caught some bug at work…. She’s just tired”. Sound familiar? 

Talking About Addiction With Your Spouse or Partner

The first thing to remember before you approach your loved one about their addiction is your goal. Think about your best-case scenario. What are you trying to achieve, aside from settling the marital turmoil? For most people, it will be to get your husband or wife to admit they have a substance use problem, and more importantly, to accept help for it in the form of addiction treatment. 

It’s very, very helpful if you have this part figured out beforehand. Even if your partner doesn’t accept help immediately, it will give you some peace of mind knowing that there is a solution to this problem and that all you have to do is get them to say “yes”. Be prepared to accept that it may take some time to get them there though. 

You’re welcome to call us at Redemption Recovery to talk about options for addiction treatment in Ohio. We can even verify insurance benefits to let you know how your partner can use their health insurance to cover their care. This is completely confidential and does not obligate you to anything. We will not speak to your partner until you tell us it’s time. 

Now, let’s get into the specifics of speaking with your loved one about substance use.

What To Do When Talking To Your Partner About Their Addiction

Avoid blaming, shaming, or guilt-tripping.

This first one is tough for many people. You’re angry, and justifiably so. Maybe your loved one has made financial decisions or taken other risks that put you both in danger. Perhaps they are emotionally unavailable to you or your children. 

Perhaps it’s much worse than that. Remember what your goal is though. Now is not the time to keep score or hold them accountable for everything they’ve done wrong. Make no mistake, the time for accountability will come — but it’s not now. Now it’s time to get to “yes”. Eyes on the prize. 

Remember the person you love.

Try to picture the person you committed to or married. Remember what you love most about them. Separate that from the destructive behaviors you’re seeing now. That’s the disease of addiction. That is the enemy for both of you. It’s not you against your partner. It’s both of you against addiction. Tell them that. You are not their enemy, you’re their ally against this monster.

Remind them they are loved.

Speak from love. Tell them you believe in them, that you know they can beat addiction with the right help. But, you love them too much to look the other way and let them continue to destroy themselves. Sometimes doing what’s necessary for the person you love may make them uncomfortable. 

If your partner becomes emotional and apologetic…

Your partner may break down and apologize profusely and tearfully. They may try to make promises you’ve heard before. Let them speak for a bit and just listen. Let them know you know they are sorry, but you don’t need apologies. Apologies aren’t going to solve the problem and save their life. Only action can do that. 

Sound like a broken record if you must, but keep coming back to your goal. Your loved one must acknowledge they have a problem they cannot solve alone and most importantly, they must accept help if anything is going to change. There is no option #2 here. Don’t accept “I’ll cut back” or “I’ll go to meetings”. Be kind, but firm. This is not a negotiation. 

If your partner reacts defensively or in anger…

Take a breath and hold it for 5 seconds. Remember that you are the rational one in this conversation. The person you love is in a battle with this thing right now. Addiction is a monster you’re both fighting. Your partner relies on you to keep your cool, even in the face of irrational anger when all you’re doing is trying to help them. 

If you respond to anger with anger, you’ll only get more anger. It’s up to you to lower the temperature, if you can. Refuse to raise your voice. Respond to anger, instead, with love. We know that isn’t easy, but it is what is most likely to get you closer to your goal. If they are too angry to reason with, accept this and end the conversation for now, perhaps with a good, firm hug. 

Treatment For Addiction In Ohio

Redemption Recovery is one of Ohio’s most well-regarded drug and alcohol treatment programs.  We offer a comprehensive addiction treatment program right here in Richland County that includes dual-diagnosis care for any co-occurring mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. 

Call to learn more about our range of treatment options from partial hospitalization programs (PHP) to intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and outpatient programs in Ohio. If you believe you are at an impasse with your partner and want to consider a professional intervention, let’s talk about that.  We can connect you with reputable, trained interventionists in Ohio. 
Change begins with action. Call (419) 528-8007 to get started today.

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