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Addiction and Relationships: 3 Ways To Support Your Partner After An Inpatient Rehab Stay

support after inpatient rehab

When you have a partner with addiction issues, it can seem as though the only goal there is is to finally get them into a rehab and into that first step of recovery. And from there, it’s smooth sailing, at least compared to the chaos and misery of active addiction right? 

But, just like with anything in life, it’s not a one-and-done situation, and there’s always more growth to be had. At least, if you want to keep improving. 

For me, I was so eager for my partner to come home because I wanted life to go back to normal (whatever that was). And once he did, I stopped anything I was doing to better my life, I refused the idea of him going to a sober living as the next stage, I was resentful of him always going to meetings or outpatient classes because I felt neglected, all that stuff. And along with that, I would also do and say things to guilt him into doing what I wanted or thought was best, or just to make him feel as hurt and uncomfortable as I was. Which is obviously how you set everything up to fail right off the bat.

What I failed to realize was that, even though our partners are no longer in active addiction and wreaking havoc that is observable, the post-rehab stage is still a fragile step for them. Now they’re experiencing more freedom away from the constant watch of staff and doctors, all while gaining their footing in recovery, finding what works for them, and how to best stay the course, and it can be a delicate balance for everyone involved. 

I was so wrapped up in my own needs and desires, though, (that were honestly dominating my attention due to my lack of work on myself) that I didn't even consider this, nor did I even acknowledge how rough of a time he was so close to having.

Looking back now, I can see both how and why things played out the way they did, and I'm glad that I finally figured out how to navigate this road the most recent time around. And while I definitely could have saved some heartache knowing what I know now, I can at least pass along what I've learned to you to hopefully save you from some of it.

So if you find yourself struggling with the newness and balance of life with your partner post-rehab, here is my list of 3 ways to support your partner after an inpatient rehab stay:

Number 1: The biggest thing I can suggest is to continue on your self work (or start if you haven’t). This will allow you to navigate any big feelings you have, communicate effectively because you’ll be in tune with yourself, adjust boundaries if needed, and stay in your lane without controlling their recovery. It will also give you something to focus on and watch for improvement in, instead of constantly looking for this in your partner’s recovery. There’s nothing better than being your own support and cheer team, and make sure you celebrate every step you take and make progress on.

Number 2: Give them a healthy amount of space. As I mentioned, this is a delicate stage where relapse can be high so let them do what they need to for them without expecting too much or putting too much unnecessary pressure on them. Let them figure out what recovery means to them; don’t follow them to every doctor’s appointment or meeting (unless they ask and it’s something you are comfortable with/doesn’t cross a boundary), don’t question their decision to move into a sober living or where they decided to take outpatient classes, and don’t be in charge of their treatment plan or keep constant tabs on their whereabouts. Let them grow on their own and have their autonomy, and don’t start slipping back into control or detective mode. 

Number 3: Communicate. As long as you aren’t dumping every feeling and emotion on them as a way of avoiding your self work, talking with them and sharing your relevant thoughts and feelings in a healthy way is good to make sure you are on the same page. As time goes on and you both progress in your own recoveries, normal family/relationship dynamics will happen naturally, and that starts with communication (and the idea of letting them be their own person, like in number 2). And communication goes for positive stuff too, like sharing how proud you are. In the past I wouldn't verbalize that because I felt like it was patronizing or something, but kind words of support really do mean a lot. Let them know how much you are thankful for the work they are doing to better themselves, and how much they mean to you. 

Of course, like so many things in life, there are lessons to be learned and growth to be made at every step. But it is definitely possible to minimize the discomfort and nervousness that can come along with change, all while building yourself up in the process and improving relationships and other parts of your life as a whole, too.

So let's get to it. 

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