You’ve noticed a loved one has a problem and you just have to do something.
But we’ve all seen interventions that have gone sideways and had the opposite of the intended effect. You’re confronting your partner because you love them, so you don’t want this to cause even more problems.
But something has to give.
When your partner is struggling with addiction, it can change the entire relationship — and not for the better.
So, you know you have to take this journey. You’ve got to confront your partner before things get any worse. And here are five steps to take before you have that conversation.
- Learn about addiction
It’s common for someone to feel betrayed when they find out their partner is addicted to drugs or alcohol. But the truth is that this isn’t about you at all. Even if your partner has ever blamed you for their addiction, know that this really isn’t about you. You definitely did not cause your partner’s addiction and you can’t solve it.
But you should also understand that addiction really is a disease. It’s not your partner’s fault any more than if he or she was diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease.
With a solid understanding of how addiction works, you may find it easier to show compassion for your partner even when everything feels intense.
- Collect evidence
This step isn’t necessary but it can be helpful. If you can find evidence that your partner is abusing a substance, it will give you confidence in the confrontation.
Someone who is addicted to a substance will do anything to keep using. And that means lying. If you do decide to confront your partner without evidence, expect that he or she will downplay or outright deny the addiction. This is likely to happen even if you have evidence, but the evidence will give you some much-needed confidence in the interaction. When you have proof, you’re less likely to doubt yourself and/or feel guilty for your accusations.
- Research treatment options
There’s a chance your partner already realizes that things have gotten out of hand. There’s a chance that he or she is ready to get help. You won’t know until you have this confrontation, but you had better be ready just in case. You don’t want to risk your partner changing his or her mind while you find a treatment facility. Have one at-the-ready.
- Gather support
You may decide to have this conversation on your own, or you may enlist the help of loved ones. Talk to a specialist for intervention tips to help you proceed in your case. But regardless of which route you take, know there’s a good chance this necessary confrontation isn’t going to go well.
Make sure someone knows what’s going on and can be there to provide emotional support after this confrontation. Make no mistake about it. This conversation will be intense. And as much as you want to make everything better for your partner, you’re also going to have to take care of yourself.
- Get in a good mental state
When an addict is confronted with their addiction, there’s a chance they’re going to turn the tables and launch an attack against you. Because if you’re defending yourself or arguing, you aren’t talking about addiction. And if you aren’t talking about addiction, your partner may continue using in silence.
Before you confront your partner, make sure you’re in a good mental state. This will help you avoid getting triggered and following an alternate path. You may want to get a massage for anxiety or practice some breathing exercises. Do whatever you can to ground yourself and remain aligned with your goals.
Confronting addiction is never going to be comfortable. And it probably won’t even go well the first time around. But it’s an important conversation to have if you want to hope for things to change in the future.