Addiction takes a huge toll on relationships. Other than parents’ relationships with their children, marriages tend to suffer the most under the strain of addiction. Certainly, there are few issues in a relationship that wreaks as much havoc as addiction does.
Substance abuse or addiction usually brings lying, cheating, stealing and/or manipulating along for the ride. Any of these issues on their own can cause trust issues that irreversibly damage a marriage. Additionally, all too often the non-addict spouse also exhibits unhealthy behaviors such as enabling, passive aggressiveness or withdrawal as a means of survival.
So, what a person married to a drug addict to do? Is there help for spouses of drug addicts?
Surviving Drug Addiction
Our experts at the United Recovery Project say yes, it’s possible for a marriage to survive drug addiction. However, both spouses must commit to repairing the partnership. While only the addict is able to beat the addiction, both partners must be willing to fully commit.
The length and depth of the partnership also play a role: if the union is a longstanding one, or if there are children involved, the partners may be more motivated to work it out. The two of you must work together for the best odds of addiction recovery and marriage survival. Here are a few tips to help spouses of drug addicts to beat the odds:
- Don’t enable the behavior. Before an addict seeks help, it’s crucial to avoid enabling their behavior. For spouses, this can mean separating bank accounts, or not cleaning up their messes (literally and figuratively). While it may be more difficult initially, letting your spouse face the consequences of his or her actions is far better in the long run.
- Encourage them to seek help. Stage an intervention if necessary. While only the person suffering from addiction can heal themselves, a supportive spouse should make their feelings known, withholding judgment as much as possible.
Once your spouse admits that he’s ready to seek help, have an action plan ready to go – you won’t want to miss this opportunity. At the United Recovery Project, our specialists are ready to assist. They can help you decide whether detox, inpatient rehab or a partial-day program is best for your family.
- Seek professional help. Being married to an addict in recovery is no easy task. Your home life has likely revolved around the addict and their needs for a long time. We recommend as much counseling as possible for the whole family.
The success of the marriage usually requires professional help to deal with long-term issues including resentment or neglect. Solo therapy sessions in addition to couples counseling will prove hugely beneficial. Support groups such as Al-Anon will also help the entire family recover from the effects of living with an addict.
- Take care of yourself. Both spouses should practice mindfulness, eat healthily, and exercise to relieve stress. These things will help both of you to be in the best headspace possible as you tackle this challenge together.
A sober spouse can help their recovering spouse by creating a safe haven for them, free of any temptations or triggers. An abundant supply of patience will be needed in the journey ahead – it may not seem fair, but it’s the truth.
Remember that while only the sick person can seek help, both parties will have to fight hard for the survival of your marriage. People who truly love each other can inspire each other to do better and start fresh, but both partners need to put in hard work to educate themselves on the trials of the journey ahead.
If you suspect your spouse has a substance abuse problem or addiction, please reach out for help. The trained counselors at United Recovery Project can help you set a game plan for the moment he or she is finally willing to seek help.