The road to substance abuse recovery is often a long one. Even with intense treatment, rehabilitation can take 30–90 days, or longer, depending on the severity of abuse. For people who are on a long-term road to recovery, how you live your life and the people you surround yourself with will make a big difference in your well-being and overall success. 

That includes taking a look at how your relationship might either be helping or hurting your recovery. 

Every relationship deals with stress. But if you or your partner are constantly contributing to excessive stress within the relationship, it could be doing more harm than good when it comes to your recovery efforts. 

Let’s take a closer look at relationship stress and the impact it has on substance abuse recovery. 

Stress and Substance Abuse

woman consoling man holding a bottleStress and substance abuse often work together in a vicious cycle. Too much stress can be overwhelming, and lead to mental health issues like depression or anxiety. When people have a hard time dealing with those overwhelming negative feelings, they can turn to coping mechanisms that offer a quick fix of relief. Often, that includes drugs or alcohol. 

Unfortunately, the “quick fix” doesn’t last long. So, the next time you’re stressed, you need more of the same substance, until you start abusing it or become addicted. 

Even when you’re on the road to recovery, stress can be a trigger. If you start to feel overwhelmed, you might be tempted to reach for your substance of choice as a way to feel better right away. If you’re in a relationship that’s causing a lot of stress in your life, it could end up becoming one of those triggers. 

Substance Abuse and Relationships

There’s no question that substance abuse can do damage to a relationship. It’s not uncommon for couples to argue more frequently when substance abuse issues are creating issues within the relationship. They can cause arguments about the substances themselves, behavioral issues, or even money problems associated with the abuse. 

Substance abuse can also be hard on a partner who feels like they have to “cover” for you or protect you from anyone else finding out about your struggles. That creates a lot of stress on them and contributes to extra tension within the relationship. 

In some cases, both partners might be dealing with substance abuse issues. Maybe it was how you first connected with your partner, but now that you’re in recovery, it can create major problems for your well-being and your relationship. 

What Can You Do?

You’ll never be able to completely eliminate stress from your relationship. But, if you have a partner who isn’t willing to work with you on your road to recovery and you recognize that the stress from your relationship is triggering you, you have to decide what’s best for your health and your future. 

Talk to your partner about your triggers and come up with ways you can reduce stress within the relationship. That might include better communication, healthier arguments, and asking for that person’s support in ways that are specific to your needs. 

If your partner isn’t willing to support you in your recovery, the best thing to do might be to leave the relationship. Recovery is difficult on its own, but having the right people in your corner will let you know you’re not alone. 

If your partner is willing to be a source of support, but isn’t quite sure how, consider reaching out to learn more about couples or substance abuse counseling. It’s a great way to learn more about the source of your substance abuse and provides an opportunity for both of you to strategize how you can prioritize your recovery together.