drug addiction man looking up pills falling around him

If you found out your significant other had a drug or alcohol problem and talking with him or her didn’t help, how would you handle it?

October 6, 2017
  • I’d never have an issue with this in the first place
  • Ask friends and family to help intervene
  • I would seek professional help for him/her
  • I’d break off the relationship
  • I’m not sure

Discovering that a significant other is grappling with addiction is a deeply emotional and challenging experience. Everyone’s situation is unique, and how one reacts is influenced by personal beliefs, values, past experiences, and the current state of the relationship. Below, we explore the various choices one might consider upon making such a discovery.

1. “I’d never have an issue with this in the first place.”

drug addiction woman surrounded by bottles with drugs

For many, the very notion of addiction is far removed from their personal experience. They might feel confident that their partner selection process or the boundaries they’ve set would prevent them from ever encountering this issue. This perspective can stem from a variety of reasons:

  • Strong personal beliefs about drugs or alcohol
  • Past experiences with loved ones who suffered from addiction
  • Seeking partners with shared values or lifestyles

However, it’s essential to recognize that addiction doesn’t discriminate. A survey showed that millions of Americans battle with addiction, and they come from all walks of life.

2. “Ask friends and family to help intervene.”

For some, the idea of facing this challenge alone is overwhelming. Rallying loved ones to hold an intervention is a traditional approach. The power of collective concern can sometimes be the push a person needs to recognize the severity of their situation.

Reasons one might consider this approach:

  • Belief in the strength of collective voices and experiences
  • Personal experience witnessing successful interventions
  • Trust in the wisdom and support of friends and family

However, it’s worth noting that interventions can be emotionally charged and have unpredictable outcomes.

3. “I would seek professional help for him/her.”

professional counseling room

The complex nature of addiction often requires expert assistance. Professional help can provide structured treatment, guidance, and support for both the person struggling and their loved ones. Here’s why this option is compelling:

  • Awareness of the chronic nature of addiction and the need for specialized help
  • Desire to provide the best chance for recovery and healing
  • Past positive experiences with professional interventions or treatments

According to a survey, a significant number of individuals battling addiction seek professional help at some point, demonstrating its widespread acceptance as an effective approach.

4. “I’d break off the relationship.”

Addiction can bring about disruptive behaviors, strained trust, and significant emotional pain. Some might choose to prioritize their well-being and decide that walking away from the relationship is the best option. This choice can stem from:

  • Personal boundaries regarding substance use or abuse
  • Past experiences with toxic relationships
  • A need for self-preservation and well-being

It’s intriguing to note that a study revealed that addiction is one of the top reasons for relationship breakups in the US.

5. “I’m not sure.”

man leaning over table with alcohol

Uncertainty is natural. Confronted with the multifaceted challenges of addiction, one might feel overwhelmed and undecided about the best course of action. This can be due to:

  • Lack of personal experience dealing with addiction
  • Emotional turmoil making decision-making difficult
  • Needing more time to process and explore options

Interestingly, a survey showed that a large number of individuals remain unsure of how to proceed when first discovering a loved one’s addiction, indicating that this uncertainty is shared by many.


Navigating the difficult waters of addiction within a relationship requires compassion, understanding, and self-awareness. Each option discussed represents a myriad of emotions, experiences, and values. Recognizing the reasoning behind each choice can foster empathy, whether you’re supporting a friend or facing this challenge yourself. Making a decision in such situations is deeply personal, and understanding the various perspectives can be invaluable in such trying times.

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