How to Help Your Spouse Avoid a Drug or Alcohol Relapse

You and your spouse have been through a lot—confronting addiction, going through treatment and making a commitment to live a substance-free life.

Now you’re embarking on a new phase in your relationship. It’s time to focus on leading a healthy life together and helping to prevent your spouse from relapsing. Read these 11 ways to help give your spouse the support they need to stay sober.

  1. Make sure your spouse is attending a support group. Whether it’s a rehab facility that provides outpatient treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, this is the most crucial step in helping your spouse stay sober.
  2. Remove all alcohol or drugs from the house. Consider keeping prescription drugs locked away. Any inconvenience is well worth removing the temptation for your spouse to reach for pills when nothing else is within their grasp.
  3. Find support for yourself. It’s not easy being married to someone with an addiction. In order to help them, you need to take care of yourself. Connect with a licensed professional, preferably one with experience dealing with addiction.
  4. Realize your limits. If your spouse is relapsing or struggling, get them professional help immediately rather than trying to “fix” them. Let a trained professional step in while you remain supportive.
  5. Get your friends and family on board. They need to know your spouse can’t go out for drinks on the weekend or gather around the family table for holiday meals with bottles of wine.
  6. Be prepared to lose friends. This is sad, but it’s a reality that friends whose lifestyle heavily revolves around alcohol or drugs aren’t going to give that up for you and your spouse. You’ll need to discuss letting go of friends that may trigger your spouse to relapse.
  7. Find ways to make new friends! The good news is there are other couples looking for friends to connect in ways that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. Check your community center for events, reach out to a church or synagogue or find a club to join (from gardening to computer coding to book clubs, there’s a group for everyone!). Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter can connect you with like-minded people
  8. Watch out for warning signs. If your spouse reverts to behaviors you saw before rehab, such as being secretive, disappearing for long periods of time or a significant change in behavior or appearance, talk to them. If they deny using drugs or alcohol but the behaviors continue, contact their sponsor or counselor for help.
  9. Keep an open dialogue. Staying sober is an ongoing process, just like maintaining a healthy weight or sticking with an exercise program. Keep the lines of communication open. You don’t have to hover and check in every hour. Rather, weave your spouse’s recovery into your regular conversation. One day they’re feeling invincible and the next they’re fighting hard not to take a drink. Assure them they can be open with you and that you’ll meet them where they’re at.
  10. Give yourself and your spouse space. You’re not a babysitter, and your spouse doesn’t want to feel like they’re being watched 24/7. Pursue individual interests! Pick a night or weekend to go your separate ways to have fun and take a break from one another.
  11. Accept that relapse does happen. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed your spouse or they’re never going to stay sober. Together with a counselor, make a plan in the event of a relapse. Being proactive goes a long way in feeling confident that your spouse can get help and you can support them.


If you and your spouse need help at any point in the recovery process, the caring professionals at The GateHouse would love to help! Please contact us for more information on our treatment options and resources.

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