Charlie, I have a question about this post. You say it is crucial to not cave on an ultimatum. This is a simple concept if the addict is continuing to use unabated - but what if they have cut back severely on their habit, and say they are trying really hard to stop entirely? If they say it has been harder to quit completely than they expected, Should a partner still follow through if the addict is sober most of the time but still using occasionally?
I hate to say it, but when it comes to recovery, there are no grey areas. There is no such thing as 'kind of' okay or 'partially recovered'. An addict is either completely okay or not at all. Whether we use all the time or occasionally, our internal predicament is still the same. That is my experience.
Abstinence shouldn't be a struggle, and if it is, there is something very wrong with his or her program, as it has not or is not lifting the mental obsession. Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't buy what he or she is selling. An addict in occasional relapse is someone who is still insane, and in my view, cannot be trusted.
When an addict's obsession is lifted, it is accompanied by a complete internal change, which includes the very character of an addict and so forth. Therefore, an addict who still uses at times hasn't undergone any significant changes and is essentially the same person.
P.S. I should mention, however, that while there is no grey area when it comes to using drugs and alcohol, once sober we can certainly be at various stages in the removal of our character defects. This is quite normal, as healing and spiritual growth is very much a process, one that we begin to manifest over time through consistent right action. So nobody is a saint and that is normal and actually quite healthy. We are meant to work hard day after day to see real changes occur and to build a foundation that is solid and will last.