Addiction Resources For Spouses

If you’re married to someone who is addicted to drugs, there are certainly some difficulties that you’re going to be faced with. Being in a close relationship with a drug user can be difficult at the best of times, and it’s important to remain optimistic and educated to ensure that you don’t let the situation get the best of you.

This article will outline some of the best resources for the spouses of drug addicts. By the time you’re finished with this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to cope with the difficulties presented by your drug-addicted spouse.

How substance abuse affects relationships

There are many ways in which substance abuse can affect a relationship. These are just a few of the main issues presented by drug addiction.

  • Communication problems. It is notoriously difficult to communicate with a drug addict, as their mental and emotional state is prone to changing frequently. They may also be more likely to lie or bend the truth.
  • Emotional issues. Drug addicts are often more volatile and prone to emotional outbursts.
  • Domestic violence. In serious cases, sometimes drug addiction can lead to cases of domestic violence.
  • Financial issues. Drug addiction is expensive, and if you’re in a marriage with a drug user this can start to affect your financial stability.
  • Social issues. Being married to a drug addict can affect your social standing. They may also bring people into your home or social group who you don’t appreciate or agree with due to their drug use.
  • Stress. It’s almost a guarantee that you will deal with stress at some point during your spouse’s addiction. Many things could contribute to stress.
    ○ Being unaware of their whereabouts, or being unsure of what they’re doing when they’re out
    ○ Financial hardships
    ○ Being lied to or being constantly unsure of whether or not your spouse is telling the truth
  • Legal problems. Many drug users encounter problems with the law. Dealing with legal problems associated with your partner’s behavior can be an additional source of stress and social hardship. This can even affect your finances, should you need to bail them out.

Supporting a partner without enabling

As a loving partner, you want to make sure that you’re supporting your partner. However, sometimes it’s hard to draw the line between supporting your partner and enabling them.

When you’re enabling them, you’re allowing them the opportunity to dive deeper into their addiction. Supporting them, on the other hand, merely encourages them to be safe and healthy without actually encouraging them to use more drugs.

This section will outline the difference between enabling and supporting your partner.

How to tell if you are enabling

Many spouses are shocked to learn that their supportive behavior is actually enabling. Furthermore, some areas involve a moral grey area where it can be impossible to pick the ‘right’ choice.

For example, if your partner is going through serious withdrawal and asks to borrow money, it would seem to be supportive to lend them that money so that they would feel better. However, this is also enabling in the most literal sense.

Another way to look at enabling is as behavior that allows someone to continue using drugs without having to face the consequences. This could include doing things like:

  • Allowing them to ignore their responsibilities, such as by calling in sick for them at work
  • Letting them engage in abusive behavior, writing it off as merely an effect of the drugs
  • Making excuses for their behavior or missed appointments
  • Forgetting to take care of yourself while choosing to care for them

How to recognize codependency

Codependency is a difficult issue that is often mislabeled as love. Instead, codependency is actually a serious form of attachment. When you are codependent with someone, you become unable to function at your optimum level without them. You become entirely dependent on that person for your well-being.

Even in intimate relationships, independence is important. Without independence, you begin to lose sight of yourself and your own goals.

In the case of addiction, a codependent partner may begin to sacrifice their own needs and want to try to save their partner. In the process, they may actually just be enabling them.

How to find support for yourself

If you’re married to someone who is addicted to drugs, it’s not just them who are going to need support. You will likely need support yourself, as it can be very difficult to cope with the realities of being married to a drug addict.

It’s important to make sure that you’re open and honest about the issue, insofar as you are able to be. While it’s important to have a support group who can help guide you through the problem, it may also be important to protect your partner. Find friends or family members who are aware of the issue at hand and ask them for support when you need it.

There are also other methods of support that you can seek, such as therapy or counseling. Fortunately, there are a number of supports available for someone such as yourself.

Couples therapy

One of the best things that you could do is seek out couples therapy. Couples therapy is focused on helping to repair or improve relationships shared between couples.

During couples therapy, you and your partner will be guided through different aspects of your relationship. Therapy is arranged so that both of you will have a better opportunity to get to know each other and understand your emotions.

It would be in your best interest to find a couples therapist who also specializes in addiction. A standard couples therapist might be unequipped to manage a relationship in which one partner is battling an addiction.

Couples support in rehab

If your spouse is attending rehab, they’re likely receiving assistance from a support group. There’s no reason that you shouldn’t seek some support, too. One of the best things for you to support yourself while your spouse is in rehab is to attend a support group.

Traditional support groups offer a chance to connect with other people who have been through similar situations. It’s just as important that you, as the spouse, find a support group to walk you through the difficult task of caring for someone who is also struggling with an addiction.

Ideally, both you and your spouse would be able to attend the same group. This is the best way for the support system to benefit your marriage. If there’s any way you can be present at your partner’s meetings while they’re in rehab, make a point of doing so: this could be a great help to them and their recovery.

Creating a recovery-friendly home  

The next thing for you to do - and something that you can take the time to enjoy doing while your spouse is in rehab - is to make sure that you can set up a recovery-friendly home. Doing this will help to ensure that your spouse doesn’t have a relapse, and will provide them with the supportive environment that they need to keep moving forward in their recovery.

There are a few things to consider when doing this.

  • Remove all items and objects that may remind your spouse or partner of their addiction. If they’re addicted to drinking, for example, you would want to remove all beer and wine glasses, commemorative shot glasses, etc. You may even want to go as far as removing all forms of media that involve drinking, at least for a while: this could include movies, magazines, books, and the like.
  • Make sure that nobody who is actively using is going to be coming by the house. Avoid contact with anyone who was involved in your spouse’s addiction. If you yourself are an occasional drinker or user of recreational drugs, you will likely need to stop your usage if your partner is going to feel safe and comfortable at your home.
  • Make sure that they have access to enjoyable activities and hobbies. If your partner doesn’t have many hobbies, help encourage them to find some. Perhaps the two of you could take up a new hobby together. Boredom is often a recipe for a relapse, and finding a time-consuming hobby that they truly enjoy is one of the best ways for a recovering addict to stay sober.

Treatment options and next steps

If you have decided that your spouse is in need of treatment, you first need to talk to them. If they’re in agreement that they need to go to treatment, then great - the hard part of the discussion is over.
If you’re not in agreement, then things can get a little more challenging. An addict won’t have much success with treatment if they’re not  invested in it, and if they want to continue using drugs, they will not be able to commit fully.

Nonetheless, you will probably want to proceed with treatment. You should get in contact with a rehab facility and determine what options are available.

Generally, you and your spouse will be able to choose between two types of treatment: inpatient and outpatient rehab.

Outpatient rehab is more lenient and only requires that your spouse is present for their meetings and therapy sessions. Inpatient rehab, on the other hand, requires that they stay at the facility for the duration of their treatment.

The latter can be very strenuous for your relationship but ultimately tends to have more of an impact. If you think that treatment is the best option, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a rehab company.

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