Today’s blog post is written by my partner, Anne.
When I first met Damo, he was quick to share his history of drug use and now recovery, which I appreciated and it didn’t make any difference to the way I felt about him. We all have a past and mine is certainly nothing to gloat over, having battled binge drinking and nicotine addiction most of my adult life, not to mention a failed marriage and many other relationship problems. What I admire most about Damo is his honesty and his willingness to care for others in a genuine way.
As time has progressed in our relationship, I’ve only just begun to realise the daily demons he fights every day with his addiction. After a bit of research, I’ve realised it’s not a choice to become addicted to a substance. Yeah sure, the initial choice to take the drug is a voluntary one but once you become ‘addicted’ it is out of your control. It’s a disease. I want to help Damo as much as I can and be there to support him but need to know how much is enough. Ultimately, every choice he makes is his own but I’d like to share how I’ve learnt to support him through drug recovery and battling his addiction.
1. Be there
It’s a busy life, being a single Mum and raising two young children and running a household but I will always listen to my partner when they want to share their struggles. It’s hard for me to understand the mind of an addict but I have two good ears and will always listen to anything my partner wants to share, whatever time of the day or night it is. I may not have any advice but I will always be there for him.
2. Never underestimate what they’re going through
No matter how many times you hear it and although you might not have any personal experience with that particular drug or drug use, never underestimate how serious their battle is. Don’t tell them you can’t understand what they’re going through or that they should never have done it. This is no time to be a hero or make yourself seem better than they are. Addiction can happen to anyone at anytime. Having a compassionate attitude far outweighs pointing the finger at what they could’ve/should’ve done with their life.
3. Encourage new life experiences
Your partner may not have experienced some of the same life experiences you have. Instead they may have battled an addiction for many years, living in the same environment and surrounding themselves in that culture. There’s no harm in suggesting a new place to visit, taking a walk, introducing your friends to him and sharing some of your passions, for example catching a live band, cooking, exercise, yoga or meditation classes. They can ultimately choose whether or not they want to partake in those new life experiences further or not. You never know. It might just be the thing that they’ve been looking for all their life.
4. Don’t always try to avoid craving cues
It’s hard these days when drug use is so commonly talked about in the daily news for example or your favourite movie. Even catching a live band, alcohol is served at most venues and it’s hard to avoid it. I know we’ve watched movies that depict drug use and it has given my partner cravings. You can’t censor everything that your partner sees and does. The craving will always be there. Allowing them to work through it and being there for them to talk it through is far more supportive then ‘living in a bubble’ and helping them try to avoid it.
5. Seek help yourself to understand
There is a lot of information out there on the internet and in books to help support your partner through drug recovery. Besides seeking counselling yourself on the subject, offer to attend support meetings or counselling sessions with your partner. You don’t have to say or do anything. Just being there is sometimes all they need to know you care.
6. Always encourage your partner
There’s a difference to telling your partner to go see a doctor and encouraging them. Finding out what resources are available online or in your immediate area like doctors, psychologists, wellness centres, drug recovery support groups and having that information available for your partner will allow them to make the decision themselves should they need to. Offering gentle encouragement works far better than pointing your finger, ranting and raving, telling them what they should be doing. It should always be their choice.
Love your partner in good times and bad. Nobody is perfect. We’ve all made mistakes. Knowing that someone cares for you and genuinely loves you, warts and all, is sometimes all they need to get through a bad day. I always stand by the motto “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I certainly wouldn’t want somebody preaching to me about my problems but rather be there to catch me when I fall and lend a helping hand.