How to Deal With a Partner Who Relapsed? What Do You Do?

How to Deal With a Partner Who Relapsed? What Do You Do?

Relapse is a common occurrence during substance abuse recovery. Learn how to identify a relapse and manage a relapsed partner here.

Relapses in Relationships

Relapse is a ubiquitous word when it comes to substance misuse. Addiction affects the brain in ways that change chemical balances and cause the body to become dependent on a substance, making recovery and maintaining sobriety difficult. Brain imaging studies have shown that addiction can cause physical changes in the brain, altering memory, learning, decision-making, and impulse control.1 

Therefore, these changes in the brain increase the likelihood of relapse. In fact, 40% to 60% of people recovering from a substance use disorder will relapse at least once. Even though it is common for relapse to occur in recovery, this event can be difficult for people living with the relapsed person. If you are living with a relapsed partner, problems may arise in your relationship, and you may find it difficult to adapt. Nonetheless, with a proper guide and professional help, you and your partner can live healthy and substance-free lives.2 

Warning Signs of Relapse

Relapse doesn’t happen suddenly. Most times, there are hints or signs that someone is going to fall back to addiction. Knowing these signs might help you avoid it before your partner breaks their sobriety streak.

The warning signs of relapse include:

  • Constant lying
  • Secretive behaviors
  • Isolation
  • Reminiscing about past drug use or experiences
  • Expressing a desire for drugs
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Missing therapy appointments
  • Frequent contact with friends who misuse substances

Common Reasons for Addiction Relapse

One of the most common reasons for relapse is stress. According to research, cravings or the urge to use a substance increases in the presence of stress.3 

Understanding the common reasons for relapse can provide guidance on what to say to someone who wants to relapse. This way, you may be able to talk to your partner from a place of understanding. Some of these reasons include:

  • Stress
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Having the substance of abuse or paraphernalia of the substance around 
  • People and places that remind them of the addictive behavior
  • Challenging emotions
  • Occasions or times of celebration
  • Financial problems
Relapsed Partner

Suspecting a Relapse and Confirming it

If you notice some of the warning signs of relapse and suspect that your partner has slipped, you must confirm it before taking any action. Some people may come clean to their partner and tell them they relapsed; however, fear and disappointment can hinder someone from telling the truth to their partner.

If the latter is the case, you may need to approach your partner using assertive communication skills. This means that while you are firm and direct in your questions, you still consider your partner’s feelings and ask in a way free of judgment.

How to Know if Your Partner Has Relapsed

If you’re close to your partner, you may notice signs that suggest they relapsed. These include secretive behaviors, manic-like behaviors, and the symptoms associated with the substance of abuse like bloodshot eyes, smaller or larger pupils, weight loss, etc.

Educate yourself on addiction, the symptoms of substance abuse, and specific signs and symptoms tied to the substance of your partner’s addiction. This way, you will be more conscious of what to watch out for. Also, try assertive communication as mentioned above. When you confirm that your partner relapsed, you can take the necessary steps to deal with the situation.

What to Do After Confirmation of Your Spouse Relapse

If you are in a situation where your drug addict husband relapsed, you may feel terrified and confused about how to handle the situation. Perhaps you are asking yourself, “My boyfriend relapsed, what can I do about it?” or even “My boyfriend relapsed, should I leave?”

Expert advice on what to do when your partner relapses will be detailed below.

Be Patient and Supportive

The first answer to the question of how to deal with a recovering drug addict husband is to be patient and supportive. More than ever, your partner will need your support to overcome the addiction. Remember that relapses are common, with more than 85% of people relapsing within their first year of recovery.4 

So, providing continued support and encouragement throughout a relapse is one of the best tips to offer.

Talk to Someone You Trust About the Situation

Going through an ordeal alone will weigh you down faster than you know. So, try to talk to someone you trust. This will help ease the stress, knowing that there’s comfort somewhere.

Find Treatment

If you have asked, “My husband relapsed, what do I do?” one of the best steps is to find a treatment for your relapsed partner. Treatment centers can provide proper recovery, therapy, and a prevention plan for future purposes.

Keep Them Healthy

A healthy diet and exercise are essential to the treatment process. Keep your relapsed partner healthy by going to the gym together and providing nutritious meals.

Keep Yourself Calm

Just when you think drugs and alcohol are a thing of the past in your household, suddenly, your partner relapses. You may not know how to react when a loved one relapses, but trying to remain calm is a great way to maintain emotions.

Don’t Exert Control Over Your Partner

Acknowledge from the start that you cannot control your partner’s decision to seek treatment. It is entirely up to them whether they decide to start the recovery process or not.

Empower but Don’t Enable

Your focus should be on helping your partner become sober. You would not do yourself or your partner any good if you helped them obtain the harmful substance or only communicated with them in a negative way.

Stay Connected With Them

You may not know what to say when someone relapses and saying the wrong things may keep you farther away from them. If you can’t connect with a relapsed partner, you may not be able to offer much help.

Therefore, educating yourself on addiction, how a person suffering from drug abuse feels, and perhaps seeking professional help can guide you through the best path to connect with and help your partner.

Boost Their Willpower

Knowing what to say to an addict you love can be challenging—you don’t want to encourage the situation unknowingly. Your focus should be on boosting their willpower to promote recovery. The following includes a few phrases of encouragement and support you can utilize:

  • You’re not alone
  • I am proud of you
  • Everyone needs help sometimes/There is nothing wrong with needing help
  • I love you
  • I know you’re struggling, but I’m right here with you

Take Care of Yourself

Dealing with a relapsed partner can take a toll on you. Even if you know what to say to an addict you love, they may not be cooperative. In addition, worrying and stress can be draining physically and mentally. Thus, it is crucial to take care of yourself. No good can come from neglecting self-care, as that can only hurt yourself and your loved one.

Relapsed Partner

Relapsed Partner

What to Do If Your Partner Doesn’t Want to Get Help

There are cases where relapsed partners refuse to get help, making it difficult for spouses of recovering alcoholics or other substance abusers. What do you do now that your alcoholic husband relapsed and refuses to get help?

Substance use disorder can be a difficult mountain to climb, especially when the person suffering does not wish to seek help. Fortunately, there are support groups for this situation that focus on helping spouses and family members of people with an addiction.

Getting Help From San Diego Detox

At San Diego Detox, we understand what you’re going through, and we’d love to help you and your relapsed partner bounce back. We'll work with your loved one to pinpoint the triggers for their relapse, learn healthy coping mechanisms, and design a thorough relapse prevention plan for the future.

In addition, we provide family counseling sessions to include you in the journey against addiction alongside your partner. Remember that you and your significant other are not alone. We are here to help throughout the entire journey by utilizing compassionate, supportive, and evidence-based care to ensure a long-lasting recovery. Contact us today at San Diego Detox to schedule an appointment. 

Learn More About San Diego Detox

Our team is standing by to discuss your situation and options. Your call is fully confidential, and no obligation is required.