When a person is struggling with a substance use disorder, their relationships often fall apart. Maybe they have let their coworkers down again and again, so their work relationships are strained. Maybe they have borrowed money from family or friends to support their habit and failed to pay it back. Maybe their erratic behavior has driven off even those closest to them.
Partners & Spouses
And those closest to them may very well include their significant other or spouse.
Having a relationship with a partner fall apart due to the substance use of one member of the couple is, of course, tragic. Breakups are always hard, but addiction can make them even more painful as the sober partner struggles to hold things together but eventually just can’t do it no matter how much they might want to.
In many cases, those relationships can’t be repaired even after the partner with the substance use issues goes through detox and rehab to reclaim their sobriety.
Again, this sort of circumstance is terribly sad for everyone involved. That said, however, singleness in the early days of sobriety has its advantages. Rather than rushing to find a new romantic partner after going through treatment, a newly sober person might be best served by focusing on a different relationship: their relationship with themselves.
Newly Sober & Standing On Your Own Two Feet
A person with a substance use disorder has, of course, become dependent on drugs or alcohol. By going through the treatment process, that person regains one kind of independence—independence from addictive substances.
But a person in recovery also needs independence from other things that can threaten their sobriety. For example, it is important to set aside toxic thought patterns and toxic relationships. It is also essential to set aside the notion that other people—like a romantic partner or spouse—can be the source of fulfillment and happiness in a person’s life.
To do that, spending some time as a single person can be very helpful. Admittedly, it cuts against the grain of most of our cultural norms and expectations. All too often, we think of singleness as a condition that must be remedied. Our popular culture is obsessed with people getting together (even if the results are disastrous) and an entire industry is dedicated to ongoing innovation in its efforts to help people connect online.
So it can be hard to stand against the tide and embrace a period of singleness. But again, there is value in the effort as you learn more about yourself and how to rely on yourself for fulfillment rather than looking for validation from another person. Also, avoiding the stress that often accompanies couplehood can be advantageous, particularly in the early days of the recovery journey.
Working On Oneself in Sobriety
In the early days of recovery, a newly sober person can benefit by focusing on making positive, lasting changes in their life that will support their sobriety going forward. Examples include:
- Regularly attending 12-Step or other recovery support meetings (as well as therapy for any mental health disorders you may be struggling with)
- Committing to regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and getting enough sleep
- Finding practices—yoga, mindfulness meditation, journaling, etc.—that support your emotional well-being
- Finding ways to give back to your community and cultivating a spirit of gratitude in your own life
These things are important for the newly sober (and for those who have been in recovery for a long time as well).
That is true whether or not you have a romantic partner or spouse—which brings us to an important point.
Some Couples Make It Through Substance Use to Sobriety
We do not want anyone to be confused about what we are suggesting here. We are not suggesting that you break off any relationship or marriage that has survived through the difficulties of your substance use and is still intact when you get sober.
An existing relationship can be a key part of your support system in recovery—as long as the other person will encourage your ongoing sobriety. If someone has stood by you throughout your difficulties and is willing to continue to do so now that you are in recovery, you absolutely want to maintain and strengthen that relationship going forward.
The Single Best Thing You Can Do Is Get Help
If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, don’t wait to get the help you need. At Bel Aire Recovery Center, we will listen with compassion and then employ our expertise and experience to create a personalized treatment plan. We will see you through medically supervised detoxification and work with you via individual and group therapy sessions during the rehabilitation portion of your treatment.
Our goal is to help you get sober and to provide you with resources, strategies, and support so that you are able to stay sober. To be honest, we are aggressively single-minded about helping you reclaim your life from drugs and alcohol.