Recovery and Relationships, Can You Stay Sober While a Partner Drinks?

Girl upset, partner drinking

In the life of a recovering addict, recovery is the priority above all else. This is the way it is because if the recovering addict does not make recovery a priority, they risk a relapse. Relapse is what recovering addicts need to avoid the most, as a relapse could mean a full-on backslide into addiction. It could also mean death. Relapse is a terrible phenomenon that about half of all recovering addicts face on a regular basis.

More than sixty percent of all overdose deaths occur during a relapse, so one can understand the risk factors involved there. The reason why recovering addicts often die during a relapse is that a relapse means that the individual goes back to drugs after not having substances in a long time. When a person relapses, they usually take as much of a substance that they were used to, whatever that amount happens to be. But because they haven’t had substances for a long time, their bodies will not be used to this quantity of drugs, they will likely overdose, and they could die.

Being in Recovery and Having a Significant Other

When someone is in recovery, they need to be mindful of the effect that their past addiction habit has in present time, on their family members and on their loved ones. One topic that gets discussed and argued about a lot is whether or not people with a recovering addict for a spouse or significant other should drink alcohol. Should the loved ones of recovering addicts also abstain from alcohol simply because their loved one cannot partake? Or should the loved ones of addicts live their lives as they normally would?

This point is strongly contested. However, most recovery experts and addiction counselors will recommend that the spouses and significant others of addicts also refrain from drinking, as the risks of relapse are far more concerning and far more prevalent than one might think they are.

Some recovering addicts can be around alcohol consumption and can even be with spouses and loved ones who drink, all without it affecting them. But do we really want to risk it? Are the gains from drinking some alcohol here and there really worth the risk of a loved one relapsing due to a close proximity to alcohol? Absolutely not.

Solidarity is the Key to Recovery

Finding recovery is a journey and a constant path that recovering addicts must walk every day. What we often forget though is that, if we are closely connected to an addict, we must walk this path with them, in a way. The boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, and close loved ones of addicts should pursue a totally sober lifestyle. After all, sobriety is the mission here so why not make it a team effort? Recovery surveys show that there is a legitimate risk when recovering addicts are around people who drink, so why even go there? Why even put that risk there?

A big part of recovery is about what one does after one leaves rehab. A big part of recovery is being very selective about the people one spends their time with and the kinds of environments that they put themselves in. It’s common knowledge in addiction recovery that a recovering addict must stay away from environments and people that could possibly inspire a relapse. It is pretty hard to do that when one’s spouse or significant other is partaking in alcohol. A better route would be to keep alcohol out of the home and out of the lives of all who are very close to a recovering addict. Everyone will be better off for it if this is done.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.