Mutual, healthy love is one of the best experiences life has to offer. Poets have written sonnets about it. Entire books are devoted to it. Movies try to capture it, usually by casting two really hot people and having them make out with each other. When you’re in love, especially in those early, heady days of the relationship, it’s easy to feel like nothing can ever go wrong.

Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong. One of the toughest things a couple can face is the specter of addiction. If you have a partner suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it feels like your whole world has crashed in around you.

It probably took a while to see just how bad things were with your partner. It’s easy to go from “he only drinks on weekends” or “she only does cocaine once or twice a year, at most” to a raging drug or alcohol issue. Your partner probably tried to hide their problem from you for as long as they could, but these things have a way of coming out eventually, usually in the messiest, ugliest way possible.

It’s easy to feel like it’s your fault. You’re their best friend and soulmate, after all; shouldn’t you have seen this coming? But it does no good to blame yourself. Unless you personally introduced your partner to crack cocaine, you had nothing to do this. If you drank wine together sometimes, that’s also not your fault, since it’s reasonable to assume that an adult can control his alcohol intake, at least until there’s evidence to the contrary. This is a them problem, not a you problem, as the saying goes. But it can easily bleed over into your life together. It takes a strong relationship to weather drug and alcohol abuse.

You should ask your partner to get help. Make it clear to them that you’re worried about his health if this continues. If you have kids together, mention that it’s not right to make children grow up in the shadow of an addicted parent. You need to be as straightforward as possible about this. Let your partner know that you love them, but you didn’t sign up for this. If they try to lay the blame on you by saying something like “I wouldn’t have to drink if you didn’t nag me so much,” tell them that’s not fair and you won’t stand for that treatment. Then don’t. If you’re going to make an ultimatum, it’s very important that you be willing to follow through. If your partner knows that you’re just bluffing, then they’ll know that there are really no consequences for their addiction.

Feel free to research rehab facilities in the area. Go to websites (like and get as much information as you can. Call a facility if you think that would help. But remember the final decision must be your partner’s. Even if you pack up the kids and leave, there is absolutely no guarantee that your partner will change unless they recognize they have a problem and truly put in the work. It’s not a pleasant thought, but you have to take care of yourself and your kids first. You can’t let your partner drag you down with them.

It’s possible your children will be traumatized, especially if they’ve seen their dad come home incredibly drunk or witnessed their mom in the middle of a meth bender. It’s worth finding a reputable child therapist who can help your kids process their parent’s addiction in a way that’s appropriate for their age group. They may benefit from online art courses or other activities. It’s easy to focus entirely on the addict and lose sight of everyone else, but don’t do that. Your children need you now more than ever.

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