There’s a bit of a grey space when we talk about supporting recovery with an addicted other. I’ve said that gettinging into a brand new relationship during the first year of recovery is a bad idea, and I stand by that. However, what about situations when you get clean, and your significant other decides to get clean as well? This is a manageable proposition. Unlike a situation where people meet in rehab, start a relationship in rehab and then try to continue it, in the situation noted above we have a pre-extant attachment. This can help boost recovery.
Supporting Recovery With An Addicted Other
I still believe that a situation where two people are intimately involved and in early recovery at the same time carries great potential risk for relapse and/or destruction of the relationship. There’s simply so much energy and upheaval present, it’s much like working on two disparate but joined states: the relationship and the addiction. Nonetheless, it can be done.
My suggestion would be to take care of all detox needs first. Then, move into outpatient couples therapy. Both persons need to also have individual therapy. Whether or not to attend the same support group is up to the couple; I would suggest not. Part of getting clean involves venting emotions. Sometimes venting means saying things that you don’t really mean. Venting can be a way of draining out an excess of emotion. Hearing a loved one vent about you can be most painful. That way both people should have their own therapist and their own recovery group. However, a social support group can be the same bunch of people for both.
Being in a relationship with another recovering person can help when it comes to doing recovery work together, such as Big Book study or working steps. That relationship can also provide a sense of togetherness, a sense of companionship in a difficult time. Having emotional support within the home is so very important.
Under no circumstances should your recovering loved one be your sponsor. Sponsors have to be able to tell you things you don’t want to hear, regardless of whether or not you become angry. After all, a sponsor doesn’t live with you. A sponsor has the virtue of being objective. The loss of objectivity is one of the biggest problems with having a relationship with another recovering person in your own household.