Are you in a relationship with someone who has an addiction? Maybe it’s alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn, gaming, internet, or some other addiction? Does it seem the problem is as huge as an elephant but uncomfortable to talk about? Do you feel angry, frustrated, or at times sad with how to communicate or relate to him or her? Have you tried a bunch of ways to ask them to get help but they don’t get help…or maybe they blame you for their attitude or mood? Do you feel powerless over how their addiction is affecting them or your relationship?

Do you find yourself saying, “What can I do with this?” or “How can I help this person?” Or “How can I make him/her better?” or even wondering, “Why can’t I fix him/her?” or “Should I just walk away?”

I have found over the 25 plus years of providing counseling that people will recognize something isn’t right long before they figure out what to do. If you are one of those who feels stuck, confused, or not sure what to do, then you are not alone.  There are answers and solutions in coping and dealing with a loved one who has an addiction.  I have worked with people in this situation and have helped them find answers in order to assist them through the confusing thoughts and hurtful feelings associated with being in a relationship with an “addict”.

You may ask…

“Why do I need to go to counseling anyway, it’s my partner’s/spouse’s problem?”

This indeed is a great question. After all, you are not the one with the addiction, your partner is. I have found that when the non-addictive partner comes to counseling they find new ways of coping with their partner as well as ways of taking care of themselves. This is something they hadn’t really been doing because they were reacting to their spouse or partner and adjusting to the addiction…or as it has been said many many times over the years — living in “Co-dependency”. Sometimes it may appear as if one spouse or partner is the only one “responsible” for the conflicts and troubles. However, this is very rarely the case! What most have found is that both spouses/partners contribute to their relationship problems in a passive and/or aggressive way. As hard as it is to recognize now, this even occurs with the non-addicted spouse or partner (who may be trying to gain control of something or someone who is out-of-control). Progress can in fact be made even when the addicted partner does not participate in counseling.

“How can I do counseling alone?”

It may be when we feel alone we act alone with limiting energy but hoping something will change. However, what many have found in this situation is that when they actively work on how they are impacting their partner, their attitude begins to improve in ways that will improve their own well-being and quality of life. One spouse’s or partner’s efforts can go a long way! Although it is generally the practice in counseling to have both present to address couples’ concerns, by assisting the one who is present for counseling often times will empower her/him through her/his own thoughts, feelings, actions and attitude in order to set boundaries, find comfort, courage and strength to regain a positive sense of self while inviting the addicted partner to do the same.

“Will I ever be able to get him/her to come in with me?”

This comes up a lot for those who decide to work on themselves despite the fact their partner has an addiction to overcome. While it may be hopeful to assume your spouse or partner will see what positive changes are happening for you and want the same thing for themselves, don’t hold your breath. Although what many have found is that when they make the commitment to actively work on themselves in order to improve themselves their spouse or partner will begin to notice. However, the addictive spouse or partner may challenge you, feel their own shame and guilt or may truly discover an interest in participating in the change process. You holding the line, your boundaries, applying what you have gained and learned in your counseling may very well be a turning point for your partner. Your desire and commitment to your relationship just may “rubs off” onto him/her! Either way, you can retain a sense of self, a sense of well-being.

Even though you may be feeling anxious, angry, worried, helpless, confused as well as having many other emotions around this relationship, I believe with my empathetic understanding, years of experience in working in addictions, I can be of assistance. I have helped many clients with these types of relationship difficulties so together we can explore healthy decisions to benefit you and your relationship.

If you have any questions, comments or want to set up a time to meet, please don’t hesitate to call or text me, Barbara Grinnell at 520-977-7191 or call the Pathways phone (520-292-9750) or email (joel@pathwaystucson.com).