Have you re-enrolled for Medicaid? Learn more about changes that could affect your coverage.
(888) 909-2415 Terre Haute, IN
(888) 909-2415 Terre Haute, IN

What to Do If Your Partner Still Drinks and You Do Not

partner’s drinking, partner who drinks, Relapse triggers, Communication, Relationships,

You have made the commitment to stay sober, but what do you do if your partner is still drinking around you?

This can not only be difficult but may trigger a relapse. Now that you are sober, you may begin to see your partner differently. As you progress on your journey, the relationship you had with your partner may change, and it may feel like you no longer fit into each other’s lives. Fortunately, there are many ways to handle this challenging situation – and perhaps stay in the relationship without jeopardizing your sobriety. 

Focus on Yourself

One of the best things you can do while in recovery is to focus on yourself. You will want to make your sobriety and overall health a priority. Showing your partner that you are serious about your new lifestyle will help them understand how vital your sobriety is to you. Instead of focusing on your partner’s drinking and how much it bothers you, direct your attention elsewhere–to yourself and your own goals. Focusing on yourself rather than worrying about your partner can help you manage stress and avoid relapse.

Consider the Relationship and Your Partner

If your partner still drinks, you need to determine if it will put you at risk for relapse. Your partner may not be struggling with addiction and may not want to quit drinking just because you became sober. If this is the case, talk to them about your concerns. You might want to assure them that they don’t have to give up alcohol just because you did, but you also want to explain how their use could trigger your own cravings and work out solutions for how to manage this. 

Talking to your partner, and listening to their needs and concerns, may help your partner more fully understand how their habits might put you at risk. 

It may be the case that your partner is also struggling with the overuse of alcohol, alcohol dependence, or even addiction. If they are unwilling to look at their drinking honestly, you may need to discuss where you see the relationship going. Being with a partner who does not respect your recovery is dangerous if you are newly sober. If your relationship is not supportive and turns toxic, it may be best to end it so you can focus on your well-being. 

Set Clear Boundaries 

Setting boundaries with your partner who still drinks is essential. This can help protect your recovery and make it clear to your partner how they can support you. Some boundaries may include the following:

  • You will not go bars or clubs where alcohol is served
  • You will not be able to attend some of the same parties you used to attend together
  • Your partner should not drink in front of you 
  • Your partner should remove alcohol from the home or store it in a place you do not have access to

Find a Solid Support System

Having a partner who drinks while you are staying sober can be difficult. Having a support system can help when you feel overwhelmed. Support can come from various resources such as a sober friend or family member; 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, where you can hear how others have dealt with similar situations; or from your sponsor or therapist You do not have to feel alone when you can find support from others who care and understand the importance of staying sober. 

Seek Professional Help

If your partner still drinks, and it is causing tension in the relationship, you may want to seek help from a professional. You can attend family therapy together so that your partner can understand the struggles that you are facing. In therapy, you can both improve communication and resolve any conflicts related to drinking. 

Are You or a Loved One Struggling with a Substance Use Disorder?

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, our team of caring professionals at Anabranch Recovery Center in Terre Haute, IN, can help put you on the path to recovery. We offer a range of programs to meet your specific needs, including residential treatment, detox, and a family program. If you have questions about how to start your journey to lasting sobriety, fill out our confidential contact form online.

About the author

Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.