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Is it OK to ask Partner to Quit AA

answered 12:24 PM EST, Sun October 12, 2014
anonymous anonymous
I want my partner to quit AA but I am not sure if this is right. Since my partner quit alcohol 9 months ago I have felt very alone in our relationship. This is surprising to me because I expected that our relationship would improve after she got sober. The primary issue is that she used to be very alive and fun and demonstrative and affectionate. In actual fact, because she was usually drunk when she was affectionate this was often inappropriate and annoying but at least this let me know her feelings. Since she has found her Higher Power and her life at AA she has turned into an emotional robot with me and I am unhappy. I think AA is doing this to her. Everything is ‘her program’. Is it wrong to ask her to try something different? If nothing changes our relationship will not sirvive and we have been together for 8 years.

Delisted Expert Says...

As mental health professionals will often do, we support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Al-Anon, Al-Anon is the self-help group for friends and family members of persons coping with addiction, and can assist with providing education and support specific to this area.  Understanding addiction, understanding recovery and receiving and giving a helping hand, can be vital to the recovery efforts of both the person battling addiction and significant partners.


When addressing couples or families coping with addiction, mental health professionals usually also offer a warning that changes in any part of a couple or family may affect their relationships.  However, the successful resolution of addiction issues is often imperative - to maintaining any form of healthy relationship, to basic physical health, to living a life free from legal issues, employment problems, and often basic functioning as a human being.  Therefore, addiction issues most often must be addressed first, and cannot and should not be ignored.


However, the next steps in recovery involve gaining new understandings and new modes of operating in the world, and in relationships - to one's own self as well as other people.  There are almost always "reasons" - beyond the basic physical mechanisms of addition - issues from a persons past family, relationships, events or traits that open the door to addiction.  These issues need to be examined and resolved - self help, support groups, or professional therapy can aid in those steps. Individual mental health can be increased and new ways of living, relating and loving can be established.


As the individual grows in recovery, friends, family members and couples  may be involved in relationship recovery as well.  Groups such as Al-Anon, self help/support, or professional therapy can assist.  Issues of co-dependence and enabling, healthy relationship education, and addiction basics may need to be addressed.  Some relationships may need to end, some may need minor adjustments, others may change, grow and thrive.  

The bottom line is that addiction can be a life-threatening disease with serious personal, professional and societal costs.  To ask an addict in recovery to stop recovering or discontinue any healthy, legal, recovery method would be seemingly counter-productive: if the person becomes unable to live a healthy, thriving life free of addiction, then how could that person possibly be a healthy, positively contributing partner in a mature, healthy relationship?  

Instead, it might be useful to seek support from groups such as Al-Anon, or other support methods.  Professional individual therapy and couples therapy can assist in your recovery as a well, and in discovering who you and your partner are as people, and a couple, without the "addiction" living between you. Either of you may decide not to continue in your relationship, or you might discover a stronger, happier relationship as you both regain and recover.  Best wishes to you both for continued recovery and good mental health.

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Page last updated Oct 12, 2014

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