Once upon a time, you made a promise. For better or for worse. This isn’t quite the “worse” you imagined when you made those vows. But here you are, struggling to figure out how to deal with a drug addict husband.
Loving an Addict is HARD
What can I do?
Am I doing enough?
Have I done too much?
Loving an addict is HARD.
Loving an addict can take away everything.
Your joy. Your money. Your self-worth. Your sense of safety. Your identity. Your happy-ever-after.
But your story doesn’t need to end that way. There is hope. Things can change.
So many who have walked in your shoes can attest to the beautiful life that can re-emerge after addiction recovery.
In relationships, individuals are expected to care for their own needs while supporting their loved ones. Though we try to take things day by day and do the best we can, substance addiction significantly complicates everything from communication to personal safety.
Especially in marriage, addiction hurts more than just the addicted spouse.
Effects of Drug or Alcohol Addiction in Marriage
The world is complex and chaotic. But in our homes, with our spouses and families, we are supposed to find a safe space, a haven if you will. Usually, we, as people, do our best to build our entire family dynamic around safety, love, support, and comfort.
But even the most robust relationships suffer when excessive drinking or drug use emerges. An addiction to drugs or alcohol hurts an individual mentally, physically, and financially. However, addiction also negatively impacts the individual’s partner, and in more ways than you might think.
Some of the most common consequences spouses of drug addicts face include
- Struggling with family finances
- Declining mental health
- Lowered emotional health
- Increased physical health issues
- Decreased self-esteem
- Loss of friendships
- Onset of verbal abuse and/or
- Domestic violence
No matter if the addiction is to alcohol, prescription pain relievers, or illicit drugs, substance use disorders cause trauma and negative consequences to both the addict and their loved ones.
Codependent Relationships: A Common Side Effect of Addiction
Relationships in the throes of addiction and substance abuse are challenging, to say the least. When the disease of addiction begins to take hold of one spouse, the other partner may start to distance themselves to protect their own life and/or that of their children. But sometimes, addiction results in codependency.
Unlike mutually-beneficial, healthy relationships, codependent relationships are ones in which one partner becomes the “giver” and the other becomes the “taker.” As a result of their addiction, a person can become excessively reliant on their partner, both emotionally and psychologically. Conversely, the spouse of an addict inherently becomes the caretaker.
Unfortunately for some, especially women with neurotic tendencies such as anxiety, depression, lack of trust, low self-esteem, and guilt, this delicate balance can become lopsided and unhealthy. Caring for your spouse while setting healthy boundaries and maintaining self-care is entirely appropriate. Codependent caretaking, however, is more compulsive and often a form of validating our own worth.
One of the big problems of a codependent relationship is that it results in enabling behaviors.
When we help our spouse avoid the negative consequences of their addiction, we are essentially enabling them to continue the downward spiral of substance abuse. Oftentimes, these behaviors are simply placating our own feelings of discomfort and helplessness.
Signs You May Be Enabling Your Husband
When you have a spouse in active addiction, your relationship can get complicated. Enabling behaviors that support substance abuse problems come in different forms and aren’t always obvious.
It is possible for spouses of addicts to unintentionally support the addiction, allowing the situation to spiral further out of control. They so desperately wish to help their husband, they may actually be doing more harm than good.
Enabling your spouse’s addiction is more than simply denying their addiction or giving in to their unwarranted requests for money. Here are some common examples of enabling behavior that exacerbates substance abuse problems:
- Denying that your husband has a problem or telling him that you believe him when he says he doesn’t.
- Minimizing the severity or scope of your spouse’s substance abuse.
- Rationalizing your partner’s behavior or making excuses for their actions.
- Ignoring (thereby tolerating) problem behaviors, especially to avoid confrontation.
- Taking responsibility by taking over obligations or covering for him.
- Protecting your partner’s reputation in front of family, friends, and co-workers.
- Internalizing all your emotions to avoid confrontation, but instead becoming resentful.
- Engaging in alcohol or drug use to normalize your partner’s behavior or so that you can monitor him.
- Controlling their behaviors and actions.
- Not following through on discussed consequences of their actions.
- Not maintaining healthy boundaries, particularly if they’ve been talked about.
- Enjoying, often secretly, that they have become reliant on you so you can feel superior.
Some spouses may even buy into the belief that the problem will go away on its own if they just wait it out.
Sadly, this is often far from true. Most people struggling with addiction will need the help of professional treatment programs to overcome abuse. And the sooner a spouse accepts they need to seek professional help for their partner’s addiction, the better!
This isn’t to say that you are, as a matter of fact, co-dependent or enabling. Codependency and enabling exist on a continuum and aren’t all or nothing. Many of these behaviors aren’t even intrinsically wrong. It is our natural tendency to want to help our spouse and as with most things in life, addiction and how to deal with it isn’t entirely black and white.
How to Deal With Your Husband’s Addiction
So, how can you help your husband get the help he needs? First things first, you must be honest with yourself about the reality of his substance use disorder. Avoiding, downplaying, and rationalizing are only going to sustain the addiction.
Confront the Problem
As hesitant as you may be, you’ll need to start by confronting your husband and having an open dialogue about the situation. Discuss the behaviors you’ve noticed and the impact their having on your relationship and family.
Be sure to talk to him when he’s sober and don’t be judgemental or accusatory. Assure him that he’s loved and that you want to be supportive. Discuss the possibility of opening up about the addiction to close family or friends for additional support and accountability.
Discuss Next Steps
From there, you can explore treatment options and talk about the next steps. Look into inpatient treatment versus outpatient programs. You can even call and schedule a tour of a facility to get a better feel for if it’s a right fit.
Granted, keep in mind that time is of the essence and you don’t want to delay the process if your husband is currently willing to accept treatment.
For those who are not ready, you’ll need to patiently, painfully, wait. The challenge is that an addicted person must want to seek treatment and recovery for themselves. Those who are forced into a rehab program simply don’t last because they are not ready.
During this time you’ll need to be supportive, but careful to not enable your spouse’s drug abuse. Set healthy boundaries (i.e. no intimacy when under the influence), be clear on consequences, and ensure to take care of yourself.
Consider an Intervention
Some individuals may enlist the help of a professional interventionist if initial conversations have proved fruitless. An intervention is a way to spotlight the direct impact that the individual’s addiction is having on their family and friends. The hope is that the individual will be moved to seek treatment.
During the intervention, you’ll also discuss treatment options, next steps, and repercussions for not following through.
As much as you may wish you can, you cannot cure your husband. You can offer guidance and support, but unfortunately, there may come a time when you have nothing left to give.
As your spouse struggles with the vicious cycle of addiction, you’ll find that you are losing yourself too. Detaching from the situation may be the only way to save you both.
It can be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do to watch him destroy himself, but unfortunately, some people need to hit rock bottom before they finally have an awakening that invokes lasting change.
Supporting Your Husband Through Recovery
For a recovery program to work, the addicted person must want to work to heal themselves. Even so, that does not mean you cannot help your loved one start taking baby steps toward healing. Some of the best ways you can support your husband before, and during, addiction treatment include:
- Don’t make your loved one feel guilty for their choices or the way they are living.
- Make it your goal to be as non-judgemental as possible.
- Refrain from lecturing and talking down to your husband.
- Set healthy boundaries, and stick to them.
- Commit to not using bribes or threats to get your spouse to agree to addiction treatment.
- Offer to help your loved one find a treatment program.
- Have open conversations about your feelings.
- Join or encourage participation in support groups, and family or marriage counseling.
Supporting your addicted spouse through the substance abuse treatment process can have many ups and downs. But in the end, when you play an active role in your partner’s recovery journey, you’ll both be able to heal and get back to a healthy relationship and a fulfilling life.
Whether you’ve just started this journey and are trying to figure out what to do, or you’ve been trudging down this path for a while and feel like there’s no end in sight, we can help. We get it. We’ve seen it all. Call SJRP at 833-397-3422 to find out how you can help your husband with his drug addiction.
How to Care for Yourself When You Have an Actively Addicted Spouse
When a loved one of ours – especially a spouse – is struggling with addiction, substance abuse topics and treatment options slowly begin to consume our everyday thoughts.
We desperately want to be there to support our loved ones. And that’s the way it should be! But, when you have an addicted partner, your own health can quickly deteriorate. You must be cognizant of the toll that addiction can take on your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Remember – you cannot pour from an empty cup. It is not selfish or weak to prioritize self-care. It is, in fact, necessary.
Here are some easy ways you can support yourself as your spouse works through addiction treatment services:
- Do make time for yourself. Be it meditation, getting your nails done, going for walks, or journaling; you must make time for yourself to decompress and do things that “fill your cup.”
- Do not be afraid to set boundaries with your loved ones.
- Do reach out to trusted family members and friends for support, guidance, and encouragement.
- Do not try to hide or isolate yourself from others in an attempt to save face.
- Do engage in family therapy services.
- Do not try to handle the effects of addiction on your own.
Drug and alcohol use disorders are serious mental health disorders affecting millions of Americans and their families each year.
But each year, growing addiction treatment options make the recovery process easier to enroll in and navigate. If your loved one struggles with addiction, it may be time to look into professional treatment centers to help your partner begin their healing journey.
St. John’s Recovery Place may be the perfect place to start.
Addiction Treatment Programs at St. John’s Recovery Place
St. John’s Recovery Place (SJRP) is a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Northern Florida offering medical detox and residential rehabilitation services.
Dedicated to helping people heal using connection, innovation, and holistic treatment options, SJRP knows better than anyone the importance of involving the family in recovery. Our personalized treatment plans are designed with the individual’s needs in mind. And our vast array of individual and group therapies creates a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to addiction rehabilitation.
Struggling alongside a family member with an addiction can be terrifying and overwhelming. The good news is that it is possible to not only heal, but also strengthen your relationship with your partner.
Successful recovery can be a reality for you and everyone you love. Call SJRP today at 833-397-3422 to learn how you can help your husband start his journey to sobriety.