How Can I Help My Addicted Spouse?

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When you have a spouse who is struggling with addiction, it’s normal to feel helpless and powerless. However, there are a number of things you can do to get them the help they need. Addiction can be an emotional rollercoaster, but it’s possible for you and your spouse to get through this challenging period and emerge with your marriage intact. With the right addiction treatment and your ongoing support, your spouse can break free of addiction and turn their life around.

Consider the Relationship Dynamic

Before you approach your spouse, it can be helpful to think about the current dynamic between the two of you. Addiction can turn loving partners into adversaries and damage even the strongest relationships.

Have you been butting heads and arguing instead of working as a team? Is there a constant sense of hostility and tension simmering between you and your spouse? These negative patterns can stifle communication and fuel the vicious cycle of addictive behavior. [1] Changing a destructive dynamic isn’t easy, but it’s essential to open up the lines of communication and tackle the challenges of recovery as a committed team.

Go to Counseling

If you’re not sure how to change toxic behavior patterns or open up communication between you and your spouse, counseling can help. Couples who take part in relationship counseling get better at connecting with each other, and that strong bond can make it easier to deal with the challenges of treatment and recovery.

In therapy, couples talk about the various difficulties in their relationship and explore the roots of these issues. The goal of couples counseling is to get both partners on the same change and help them change any behaviors that may be damaging their relationship. Once the relationship is going more smoothly, it may be easier for your spouse to acknowledge their struggle with addiction and agree to get treatment.

Get Educated

get educated

One of the best ways to be an advocate and source of support for your spouse is to arm yourself with as much information as possible. You may have certain preconceived notions about addiction, so it can be helpful to become educated regarding the condition. Addiction isn’t a lack of willpower—it’s a chronic and relapsing disease of the brain, and in most circumstances it will only get worse without treatment. [2]

Learn about the treatment options for your spouse’s addiction and find out as much as you can about the recovery process. This knowledge will help you better understand the challenges your spouse will face on the road to recovery. With this knowledge, you can offer them the right kind of support at the right time and eliminate any enabling behaviors that might be unconsciously facilitating their dependency.

Overcoming drug or alcohol addiction can be difficult, but long-term recovery is possible with lots of hard work and a solid support system. Even if you feel powerless in the face of your spouse’s addiction, know that help is available. Your patience, love and emotional support can play a central role in their recovery.

References

  1. https://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Substance_Abuse_and_Intimate_Relationships.aspx
  2. http://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2012/03/help-the-addict-doesnt-want-help/