By Tatiana Shams, Content Manager
In a healthy relationship, couples tend to do a lot of stuff together and as they explore common goals and interests, it is possible to discover a partner’s unhealthy behaviors like doing drugs or drinking alcohol.
While they are both personal choices, it becomes a little too personal when you are forced to participate in behaviors that you don’t feel comfortable with it or that your parents would disapprove of. We know that people who pressure their partners to get intoxicated, do so for a number of reasons: not feeling bad about getting drunk or high alone, wanting their partners to be less able to assert their own boundaries or getting a partner addicted to have more control over them. These controlling techniques can lead to behaviors like gaslighting, manipulation and leave victims feeling guilty, ashamed and fearful about being judged or disbelieved if they tell others that they did drugs or alcohol.
These situations can be scary, confusing and certainly very painful to deal with. Why should you be forced to do something you’re not comfortable with-especially by someone who is supposed to care for you and your safety? We understand it can be hard sometimes to speak up so here are four ways in which you can help keep yourself safe in case your partner is pressuring you to do drugs or drink alcohol:
Know where you stand: You have the right to have a safe and healthy relationship that is based on trust and open communication. With that said, when you are pressured to do something that you are not 100 percent comfortable with, you have the right to say no. In fact, being pressured into doing something you are not comfortable with—like smoking marijuana, doing cocaine, taking pills or drinking alcohol—is a warning sign we often see in unhealthy relationships, so if you feel like someone is coercing you to do these things and feel uncomfortable, anxious or scared, allow yourself the opportunity to say no. At the end of the day, it is your body and your partner should respect the fact that no one but you has control over it. If your partner continues to pressure you, maybe this is a good opportunity to reevaluate your relationship goals and figure out if this relationship is worth pursuing or if you should break up.
Have an uncomfortable conversation: Although talking about boundaries may feel kind of awkward, it is important that you set the record straight when it comes to sharing yours and knowing about the other person’s wants, needs, fears and limitations. If you haven’t yet, telling your partner that you don’t feel comfortable when they try to make you to drink alcohol or do drugs is a great way to set clear boundaries and expectations regarding behaviors that are acceptable to you or not. If you are unable to speak with your partner safely, it might help to make a safety plan with our loveisrespect advocates or talk to someone in your support system about ways to keep you safe in situations where there might be drugs or alcohol involved.
Have a safety plan: If your partner has ever forced you to drink or do drugs, trying to reinforce your boundaries with them will probably not be safe for you, so having a safety plan may be a good idea. A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that can help you lower your risk of being hurt by your partner, such as avoiding dangerous situations or how to react when you’re in danger. For instance, if you are at a party you can use the buddy system with a trusted friend, maybe they can say they need you to go with them, or help you come up with an excuse to get away from a situation where there are drugs or alcohol. Whether you decide to end the relationship or stay, it’s a good idea to empower yourself with the knowledge of how to act in different scenarios. We have an interactive safety planning tool on our website if you want to check it out!
Forgive yourself: There may be occasions where you might feel like you have no other choice but to agree with your partner’s demands and take that drink or smoke that cigarette—whether it is because you don’t want to get into an argument or you don’t want to upset the other person. Regardless of whatever reason you may have, it is important that you are able to forgive yourself in instances where there may be no other safe choices. Abuse is about power and control and exerting that control over a partner. An abusive partner may even say that they know best and they should be in charge in the relationship. Whatever the reason may be, remember: abuse is never the victim’s fault and there is nothing anyone can do to deserve to be abused.
If you currently have a problem with drug or alcohol abuse and are unsure of what to do, there is help! For help with your relationship, chat with a peer advocate to learn more about what you can do. Please call 1-866-331-9474, chat with us via the “Chat Online Now” button or text the word “loveis” to 22522. For help with addiction check out this page from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.