My Spouse is Still Drinking. Can I Maintain Recovery?
Becoming sober is a significant accomplishment and one that you should feel proud of. It’s not an easy task to quit drinking alcohol, especially when you are dependent on it. Going through an alcohol detox program helps you manage the withdrawal symptoms and gives you insight into why you may have started drinking. However, what if your spouse is an alcoholic too, and they didn’t go to rehab? Can you stay sober while they are still drinking?
Here are 5 tips for maintaining recovery if you have an alcoholic spouse.
1: Plan Outings That Don’t Involve Alcohol
Your “old life” probably revolved around a particular routine that always included alcohol. Whether it was meeting friends at the local bar, going to the ball game, or having a barbeque, alcohol may have been the centerpiece. Continuing this routine could prove too difficult for you. However, don’t make a big deal out of “nagging” about where or what the plans are—just take charge and start making some plans of your own. Your loved one may not notice that your new plans don’t include alcohol.
You can plan a get-together with friends at a family-friendly restaurant instead of the corner bar. You could have a barbeque with friends at a state park that prohibits alcohol. There are plenty of fun activities that you and your spouse can do that leave alcohol out of the picture.
2: Develop a New Social Network
Some couples have “drinking buddies”—other couples or friends they usually drink with when they get together. If this is the case with you and your spouse, you might have to encourage new friendships or revive old ones. It might take time to develop a new social network that doesn’t involve the alcohol component, but it can be done.
3: Don’t Take on Responsibility That Isn’t Yours
Whatever happens in the relationship, make sure you separate your responsibilities from your spouse’s. For example, if you made every effort to plan an alcohol-free outing but your spouse ends up drinking anyway, it’s not your fault. You are responsible only for your own actions, and you can commend yourself for resisting the urge. You may sometimes find it necessary to remove yourself from the scene to regroup or get your mind in the right place.
4: Continue Outpatient Therapy
Whatever happens, you still need support and help to maintain strength throughout this process. It’s important to attend outpatient therapy immediately following detox after you transition back home. This is especially vital if you have a spouse who is still drinking. During outpatient therapy, you can discuss your struggles with a therapist and find additional resources to help you stay sober.
5: (Carefully) Encourage Your Loved One to Quit
You must exercise this tip with care. If you push too fast or hard, it could backfire. However, you do want to encourage your loved one to participate in detox rehab. They may be inspired by seeing how much your life has changed for the good.
Focus on the positives in your life when trying to encourage them to quit. You can also be transparent about how much stronger you would feel if the two of you were in it together. Remember to be careful about how and when you say these things. You don’t want to come across like you are shaming or blaming them, but you can help them see hope for sobriety.
At American Addiction Centers, we are here to support you and your spouse on your journey to a sober life. We offer a safe detox program and a solid outpatient treatment program for those struggling with alcohol use. Get in touch with us for more information about alcohol treatment programs today.