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How to Help a Spouse with a Drug Addiction

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How to Help a Spouse with a Drug Addiction

Written by Genesis Recovery

Intimate relationships, including marriage, are supposed to be based on honesty and trust. In fact, a healthy marriage can make you feel like your relationship is a safe haven from a chaotic, confusing, and stressful world. But when your spouse has addiction challenges, your marriage might begin to feel like a nightmare. You might feel betrayed, neglected, confused, lost, and angry. You might even feel hopeless and completely alone as you struggle to help your spouse and maintain your normal life. Substance abuse problems can affect your family’s finances, emotional wellbeing, and mental health. Being married to an addict can make you feel hopeless, especially when you’ve tried and done everything you can think of to help your spouse who’s struggling with drug addiction. Luckily, there are a few ways you can help your spouse get the help they need while maintaining your emotional and mental health, as well.

Helping A Spouse Struggling With Addiction

Loving and supporting your spouse while they struggle with addiction challenges may be one of the most challenging situations you will have to face in your life. Your situation may be so complex that you might not know where to start or how to begin seeking help. But drug addiction is a chronic disease and you need to understand how it happens, how it interferes with the mind and body, and how it’s treated, just like you would seek to understand other chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, dementia, or heart disease.

1. Educate Yourself on Addiction

Addiction can be embarrassing, but the more you understand the details, the more empathy you’ll have toward your spouse. Communicating with your spouse from a place of empathy, love, and genuine concern rather than anger and blame can help your spouse be more open to your fears and concerns. You should also know that addiction is a chronic disease and your spouse can’t simply quit using drugs. Knowing this information doesn’t excuse your spouse’s behavior nor does it invalidate your anger, frustration, and sadness. But educating yourself on addiction can help you focus on the problem that’s hurting your marriage, not the person. In addition to that, reading up on addiction can help you understand your spouse’s struggles and what needs to take place to help them get better.

2. Detach With Love

married couple fighting over drug use

"Detaching with love” is a concept often used in support groups for families dealing with the effects of drug addiction. The concept teaches you to love your spouse enough to let them make their own mistakes. A common example of detaching with love is placing a blanket over your spouse who has passed out on the floor without moving them to the bed. You show your love for your spouse by providing them a blanket but refuse to cover up their actions, instead leaving them in the place where they passed out. It can be a hard notion to follow because it’s instinctual to try to save and rescue the people we love. But when your spouse is battling drug addiction, you have to accept the fact that you can’t control or change them - you can only love them and encourage them to get help. Detaching with love, while easier said than done, can help you and your spouse by:

  • Allowing your spouse to be held responsible for their own actions
  • Letting your spouse know that you love them but dislike their addiction
  • Helping you overcome codependency and enabling issues, which cover up and make excuses for your spouse’s addiction, which, in turn, makes the situation worse
  • Allowing you to focus on your own wellbeing so your life doesn’t revolve around your spouse’s addiction problems

3. Set Boundaries and Enforce Them

Once you’ve made up your mind to detach with love, you need to let your spouse know the kind of behavior you will and won’t accept from them moving forward. Let them know how you feel when they use drugs and clearly and boldly inform them that you will not:

  • Tolerate verbal, emotional, or physical abuse
  • Let them control or handle the finances
  • Bail them out of jail
  • Lie or make up excuses for them when they’re too high to go to work
  • Rescue them from legal or financial trouble

But setting boundaries isn’t enough. People struggling with addiction challenges tend to test boundaries. In fact, they will continue using drugs at any cost so you must be consistent in enforcing the boundaries you set. When your spouse crosses the boundary line, let them feel the weight of their consequences. If you don’t, you send a message that their behavior is acceptable and that you’re willing to tolerate it now and in the future.

4. Stage An Intervention

couple in counseling for drug addiction

While you’re learning about addiction, detaching with love, and setting and enforcing boundaries, you can stage a drug intervention for your spouse, as well. An intervention is a carefully planned process designed to help your spouse realize they have a problem using and abusing drugs. You can plan a one-on-one intervention by yourself, but the most effective interventions are usually led by a trained intervention specialist. The interventionist can help guide the conversation and make sure everyone communicates with respect and honesty. An interventionist can also answer questions you may have about drug rehab programs and addiction treatment.

Getting your spouse the help they need may not be an overnight task. This process may take a considerable amount of time and it will certainly require effort on your part, but it is possible. Remember, though, that you can’t neglect yourself in the process. Being married to someone who is addicted to drugs can take a toll on your health so you need to take care of yourself, too.

5. Don’t Forget to Take Care Of Yourself

Trying to get your spouse the help they need can make your world feel incredibly small. You might feel like it’s easier to isolate yourself from friends and family than it is to talk about what’s going on. You might also feel like you don’t have enough energy or time to do something nice for yourself. But you need to maintain your health if you’re going to work toward your spouse’s recovery. Carve out intentional time in your schedule to:

  • Connect with a support group
  • Enjoy your hobbies
  • Eat nutritious meals
  • Catch up with family and friends
  • Exercise
  • Rest

Helping The Whole Family Heal from Addiction

At Genesis Recovery, our mission is to restore lives that have been wounded by alcohol and drug addiction. We know how devastating addiction can be to a marriage, but we’ve also seen many of our clients begin again and restore their marriages. Addiction doesn’t have to be the end of you and your spouse’s love story.

Our treatment programs can help get your spouse on the path to long-term recovery and restoration. We also offer family therapy sessions to help mend you and your spouse’s bond.

Contact Genesis Recovery today at 619-797-7319 if you’re looking for a drug addiction treatment program that can help heal your family from the inside out.

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