Health and Fitness

How to Talk to Your Significant Other About Their Substance Abuse Problem

Recent tragic events surrounding Lamar Odom’s persistent issues with drug abuse and his current critical state makes us think it’s time to have a serious discussion about substance abuse.


Does your  partner abuse drugs or alcohol? Being in a relationship with a substance addicted person can be tumultuous, heart-wrenching, and in many cases abusive and dangerous. Unless you’re prepared to get out of the relationship, your safety and happiness are dependent on her ability to get clean; otherwise, you risk her health and your health and happiness.

Intervening and Offering Help 

An intervention can occur anywhere and at any time, but it does require a bit of preparation. You can confront the addict on your own, or invite her closest friends and family members to attend. Be careful who you choose to invite; it’s important to invite people whose opinions she respects, and who she’d be inclined to listen to.

Ultimately, the goal of the intervention is that she agrees to attend addiction treatment and counseling. A customized substance abuse program at a womens recovery center will have a lasting impact, and will provide her with tools she can use to avoid relapse. As an addict, she may be resistant to agree. Bring photos and information regarding the treatment center, and do your best to show her how positive the experience will be.

If she still refuses to attend a treatment program, its’ recommends that you decide on specific consequences. She may not want to go, in which case you’ll need to work with others involved to determine the exact consequences she’ll have to endure should she deny treatment. Examples include asking your loved one to move out or taking away contact with the children.

Overcoming Denial 

In Nurse Jackie, a fictional Showtime drama, Jackie Payton struggles with opiate addiction, which cripples her marriage and destroys multiple relationships with lovers, coworkers, and friends. Although not all addicts are as relentlessly malicious as Jackie can sometimes be, the real meat of the story is that, despite her shortcomings, she is loved and respected by everyone she comes in contact with.

If you’re in a relationship with an addict, you may find yourself making excuses for her behavior. In order to truly help her get free of the disease, you must resist enabling her. In Nurse Jackie, Jackie repeatedly relies on the silence and submissive behavior from those she is closest too. By not standing up to her and confronting her about her addiction, they are supporting the addiction. If this sounds familiar, you may need an interventionist to assist you.

Enabling is dangerous. Overdoses can occur, and they are life-threatening. Or, you may be subjecting yourself to emotion or physical abuse you don’t deserve. The best way you can help her is to stop making excuses for her addiction, and admit to yourself that she has a problem. If you can’t do that, ask a professional to get involved. A professional can help lead you to acceptance, and give you advice and tools to end the enabling behavior.

It’s not the easiest thing to convince your wife or girlfriend to go to rehab, nor is it a simple feat to end enabling. Real success is stems from consistency. Change isn’t easy for anyone, substance addicted or not, but it necessary if you want to be successful. If after treatment, your significant other relapses, you’ll need to prepare yourself for to enact the consequences you discussed during the intervention and demand that she attend treatment again. This level of commitment to sobriety is necessary for long-term success.

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