Drug Addiction Tips for Spouses
Each marriage is unique, and each couple has its own routines and boundaries. However, if you’re living with a spouse suffering from drug addiction, it creates a lot of stress, anxiety, and despair for you and for the marriage relationship. In the United States, drug addiction is the sixth leading cause of divorce.
You love your partner and want your marriage to survive the addiction. It’s entirely possible for that to happen. You just need to be prepared for dealing with the addiction and the recovery process. First, you need to recognize the signs of drug addiction within your marriage. Some of these signs are symptoms of other issues but the more signs that point to drug addiction means the more likely that it is an addiction. Here are some signs to look out for within your marriage:
- Your spouse is disconnected from their surroundings.
- Your partner spends more time away from home without you in settings, such as a bar or party.
- They struggle at work or get fired.
- Your spouse drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- They put other people’s life at risk.
- You notice money missing without a reasonable explanation.
Six Things to Do When Your Spouse Suffers From a Drug Addiction
When you know that your spouse suffers from drug addiction, it can be scary at first. You want to help them get better and make the right choices. Here’s a look at some things you should be doing to help:
1. Seek Counseling
You need professional help when your spouse has a drug addiction. It’s a good idea to arrange counseling for you and your spouse, and you might even include older children. You can choose between family and marriage counseling to allow you and your partner to work on the problems within the marriage, including drug addiction. Make sure that you attend all counseling sessions and encourage your spouse to do the same. You also need to be honest during these sessions.
2. Use Ultimatums
“If you don’t do this, I’m going to do that.” While you might think using an ultimatum isn’t a smart move, it can be an effective tool if you intend to go through with it. However, you must be committed to following through on the ultimatum if your partner doesn’t do what you asked. Before issuing the ultimatum, it’s a good idea to know that what you’re asking for is realistic, and also that the threat is something you can live with if your partner doesn’t do the first part.
3. Seek Help for Yourself
When you’re married to a spouse fighting drug addiction, it takes a toll on you both physically and emotionally. You need to seek help for yourself. Al-Anon and other community support groups can help you meet other people in your position, teach you new ways of dealing with your partner, and provide a support network you need. Some of these groups meet daily or weekly so you can easily find a group that fits your needs and schedule.
4. Be Clear in Your Communication With Your Partner
When you’re speaking with your loved one about their addiction, you want to be very clear in the way you speak. For example, you might say, “When you use drugs, I feel scared and frightened.” You want to relay how you feel without it being an accusation. You want to draw clear boundaries between how you feel about your spouse when they’re using drugs so that they realize that you don’t always feel that way.
5. Educate Yourself
You may think that you already know a lot about drug addiction because you’re living it. However, there is a lot of good information available to learn more. From causes and underlying mental health issues and treatments and the recovery process, there’s a lot to learn. You can read books, journal articles, and online magazines. There are even podcasts devoted to understanding drug addiction, recovering from it, and facing drug addiction as a family. The more you know about drug addiction means the more you can help your partner recover.
6. Detach Yourself and Still Show Care
If you’re like many partners in this type of situation, some of your behavior enables your partner’s drug addiction. Do you always find yourself cleaning up your spouse’s mess? It’s time to stop doing that. However, you want to do it in such a way as to show that you love them. For example, your spouse comes home and passes out of the floor in the kitchen. Instead of moving them to the bedroom, cover them with a blanket and let them sleep it off on the floor.
Nine Things That You Shouldn’t Do
It isn’t just things that you do that can make a difference when you have a spouse that’s addicted to drugs. There are things that you should avoid doing to help make recovery easier. Here are a few things to consider:
1. Don’t Make Excuses
It’s easy to fall into the habit of making excuses for a spouse suffering from drug addiction. You might tell others that they can’t help passing out in the living room or betraying your trust because of the addition. However, this isn’t true. They can always take steps to get clean and adjust their behavior. Your spouse sees you making excuses for them and begins to believe their behavior is okay, and this isn’t the message that you want to send.
2. Compromise Your Own Health
If it comes down to a choice between doing what is best for you and doing what is best for your spouse, you need to put yourself first. For example, you wouldn’t let your spouse drive you anywhere while under the influence, so you shouldn’t let other things they do place you in jeopardy. This can also include taking time for yourself and eating the right foods. You need to be healthy to help them recover.
3. Ignore the Problem
At times, it may seem easier to put your head down and keep going like there isn’t a problem in your marriage or relationship. However, if you try this tacit, things will only get worse. You need to face the problem and help your spouse fight their drug addiction. It’s a good idea to recognize the problem and talk with your spouse about the next steps together.
4. Bail Your Spouse Out of Jail
If your spouse has been arrested because of an action caused by their drug addiction, you shouldn’t bail them out of jail. Your spouse needs to face up to their actions and make their arrangements for bail and release. You don’t want to fall into the habit of bailing them out of jams, making it easier for them to continue justifying their mistakes and drug use.
5. Be Dishonest
Trust is an essential part of any relationship, and this true when you’re in a marriage to someone with drug addiction. You don’t want to lie to your spouse or sugarcoat the truth too much. You need to be as honest as you can with your partner so that you don’t lose their trust. As you try to get your partner to seek help, you’re going to need their trust in you.
6. Issue an Ultimatum Without Following Through
Don’t threaten your spouse with an ultimatum without following through on it. If your spouse fails to meet the condition or boundary that you set, it’s up to you to do the thing you said you do as a consequence. If you don’t follow through with your ultimatum, you’ll lose any leverage that you have in future behavioral negotiations.
7. Drink or Do Drugs With Them
Even if you aren’t an alcoholic or a drug addict, you should never do drugs or have a drink with your partner who is a drug addict. This type of interaction will normalize their own behavior and make it become a part of your relationship. You need to keep clear lines between your responsible drinking and their drug addiction.
8. Blame Yourself
It’s easy to blame yourself when something goes wrong in your life, especially when it happens to someone you love as much as your spouse. However, their drug addiction isn’t your fault, and there wasn’t anything you could have done to stop them earlier. Blaming yourself will only create more stress and anxiety for you.
9. Judge or Blame Your Spouse
When your spouse has a drug addiction and does self-destructive things, it’s easy to become angry and overwhelmed. However, you don’t want to judge or blame your spouse. In many cases, there are underlying causes for the addiction, and it isn’t their fault. If you blame or make degrading comments to your spouse, it only causes damage to the relationship that’s harder to repair in the long run.
At Fairwinds Treatment Center, we understand what you’re dealing with at home. We want to help you and your spouse start and complete the recovery process to help you return to a healthy lifestyle. Whether you need inpatient or outpatient services for your spouse, we’re ready to help. Contact us for more information.
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If you are ready to discuss treatment for yourself or a loved one, the Fairwinds admissions team is here to help.
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