How do you know if getting sober with your significant other is the right decision?

One of the biggest questions that I get asked is this… How can my significant other and I both get sober together? This is a loaded question. It’s not just simply, how do I get sober with my significant other? The biggest question you’re really facing is, SHOULD you get sober with your significant other. There are a world of obstacles that stand in the way when you try to take two unstable minds with a severe opiate addiction and you try to get them both to stay on the same page. Chances are pretty good that for quite some time, you’ve both been fueling each other’s addiction like crazy. You’ve stopped trusting each other because you always think one of you might be getting a little more than the other. Or you’ve pawned everything you both own and have now advanced to some questionable ways of obtaining your next fix. It’s all a lot to think about, and that’s before you’ve even gotten to the point of making a decision. To help you through this decision, this is part of my story.


You’d be surprised to know that I actually recommend that a lot of people focus on themselves first. Which usually means separating from someone you may think you really want to be with. And the odd thing is, my husband and I went into recovery together!   But I recognized early on that we were an anomaly… that just as easily as we were building each other up, we could have broken each other down.   We literally had to make a conscious effort NOT to have bad days at the same time. That takes an incredible amount of mental strength! And let me be the first to admit that when you’re in early recovery, mental strength is NOT something you have to spare. Which sometimes meant if I noticed that I was struggling a little bit, but he said something first about having trouble, I immediately tucked away my thoughts… I put on an emotional “pause” button and literally waited, because I knew that he needed me now and if we both had a breakdown, we’d be using by the end of the day.   I’d then (I’m a visual /mental person) open the filing cabinet in my mind and pull out the skills I’ve been learning… Like when he was struggling with the cost of methadone treatment we utilize, I’d explain why we knew it was an investment in the rest of our lives! That not only were we benefiting from the fact that the medicine is helping us to regrow our dopamine receptors again so that we actually experience happiness, but we also have all these amazing tools and access to counseling that would be hard if not impossible to get anywhere else. Plus we had accountability.


We have earned the privilege of taking home a weeks worth of medication at a time, so we only have to go to the clinic once a week. But if we screw up and fall down that path again, we’ll lose that privilege, which we were very proud of earning.   And not to mention, when we were using and we actually did the math on the cost of how much we were using… on that path, if we kept using like that with no increase, we’d spend $36,000 each on dope each year!   And most importantly, since being on methadone maintenance treatment, we’d had a better year in commission than we’ve EVER had before!   I’m saying all this to give an example I guess, because I know that we kept trying to stop on our own and we kept relapsing because we kept so easily talking each other into using again.   We had to finally make an emotional “enough is enough” line in the sand.   If you and your partner want to trust each other again, you simply cannot continue to use.


I never recommend other couples to do it like we did, because it’s just so rare that people are successful together like that… But if you really want to salvage the relationship, you literally have only one choice, and that’s recovery.   Trust is something you have to build up with each other again, and you both have to make that emotional “enough is enough” line in the sand.   Use each other for encouragement instead of manipulating each other into using again. And you always wonder if they start using without you if you don’t have absolute and complete honesty in your relationship.


The biggest problem with couples in recovery together is that someone has to finally get be so fed up with the way things are that they are ready to change for real this time, and it’s very hard to get two people in that same frame of mind. So unless you both can truly be done and get in that mindset together, then unfortunately the relationship is just toxic the way it is.   You would both need to have one serious and intense conversation.   Before you make any decisions about a relationship, if you’re truly ready to get sober, you need to be prepared to be selfish with your recovery. If your partner isn’t ready to make that change them, you need to be ready to make it for yourself before you literally die. Because that’s what is happening every day. People are dying every day. This is all a lot to process, but I also know that deep down we are all capable of making the right decision.

Written by Julie Medcalf

Julie Medcalf

Julie Medcalf is co-owner of MedCard (, a service offering telemedicine (call a doctor) and other healthcare benefits. She is a mother of 2 children who enjoys using her experiences as a recovered addict to help others stay sober.

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