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What to Do When Your Partner Drinks Too Much

When your spouse has a problem with drinking or using drugs, it can seem as if your whole word is falling apart. It isn’t the relationship you wanted or planned. And what used to bring your joy and happiness is now filled with loneliness and despair. So what do you do? How do you start addressing the issue? Follow these 5 tips as your first steps:

1. Accept the reality of the situation

This one can be the hardest. You don’t want to believe that your partner has a problem. And you definitely don’t want to believe that it’s becoming a huge part of your relationship, but it is. It’s understandable; the consequences of alcohol or drug addiction are frightening. Once you accept they have a problem, you’ll have to accept that it could ruin your relationship or their life. But the longer you deny this, the worse things will get. You can’t begin to move forward until you have fully accepted that this is happening to you and your family.

2. Get educated

You and your partner can’t deal with this problem until you both understand it. Substance use disorders are complex and affect the both partners’ physical, social, mental and emotional well being. If your spouse had been diagnosed with diabetes or cancer, this would be an obvious part of the process, but addiction is a shame based disease. Don’t be ashamed to seek out educational resources. With 47,000 Canadian deaths linked to substance abuse annually, this disease affects a lot people and there are a lot of resources out there to help you understand it.

3. Get some support

Just like your spouse can’t get sober alone, you cannot recover alone either. You need some good coping skills and people you can call on when things get heavy. Head to a counsellor, therapist or a support group for family and friends of addicts.  The people there will understand what you’re going through and will be able to help you through this journey.

4. Let yourself grieve

Going through addiction in the family is akin to suffering a big loss. The relationship you once had and the future you imagined is probably gone. This doesn’t mean that your relationship is necessarily over. It’s just means that your partner will be deeply changed, whether they get sober or stay in active addiction.  Make sure you let yourself grieve this loss – you have a right to be sad and sorry that it’s gone, and you won’t be able to embrace the new until you’ve given yourself the time to move on.

5. Put yourself first

If your partner is deep in their addiction, it’s likely that they’ve become the center of your world. Your mission to get them sober and well may have morphed into your purpose in life. It’s become a bit of an unhealthy dynamic and it’s likely the rest of your relationships and endeavors have suffered because of it. It’s time to start putting yourself first. As hard as it may seem, ensuring your own physical, mental and emotional well being has to be your most important priority. There are some difficult times ahead, and you need all the strength you can get. And you’ll be surprised how much better you feel when your life revolves around you again.

There’s no easy solution when you love an addict, and no one-size-fits-all solution. But if you practice acceptance, allow yourself to grieve, get the education and support you need, you’ll be ready to move in the direction that’s right for you and your family. For more information, learn about our family education and support programs here.

5 Tips for Staying Sober During the Calgary Stampede


It’s the final weekend of the Calgary Stampede and while this annual rodeo means lots of fun for most of the city, it can be a hard time for those in recovery.  With plenty of beer gardens, parties and late night hours, the Stampede has been described as ‘Cancun on spring break with western wear’.  This party atmosphere has been increasingly examined by the media; CBC reached out to our Calgary clinic for comment on how it effects those with addiction.

So how can you enjoy the final weekend of Stampede without compromising your recovery? Here are some expanded tips from our clinicians:

1. Stay Connected

Stay in touch with others in recovery. Talk to them about the upcoming events and your feelings around them. These are people who understand you, what you’re going through and can help support your through it.

2. Take Care of Yourself

Since this could be a very triggering time, it’s essential that you practice self-care. Get plenty of rest, some exercise, meditate, eat three healthy meals a day. Be mindful of feelings of anger, loneliness or longing and take action to address them.

3. Create New Ways to Celebrate

The same old places and events can trigger negative urges, so plan some new ways to enjoy the Stampede. This may mean staying out of the party tents or off the midway, and going to more of the animal demonstrations.

4. Have an Escape Plan

There is nothing wrong with having a planned exit time from any gathering. Having your own transportation is key; no need to wait around for your ride in a situation you don’t feel comfortable in. You can plan exactly how long you’re staying at an event, and have a sober friend check in with you at your planned exit time.  Or, have a list of sober friends you can call if you’re at an event and you feel triggered.

5. Respect Your Fear

There’s nothing wrong with having a little healthy fear around a party focused event like the Calgary Stampede, especially if you’re new in recovery. Respect that fear, and stay away if you need to. There’s also nothing wrong with taking a year off – your sobriety is more important than your worries of missing out.  You can always enjoy the Stampede next year, when you’re a little more stable in your recovery.

Remember that we’re hear for you.  Should you have trouble with substance abuse during the Stampede you can always call our Calgary office at  587-350-6818.