Chances are, when you first married your partner, you never imagined addiction destroying your marriage. Perhaps you were completely unaware of their addiction or didn’t believe their substance use was out of control.
No matter the reason, when addiction treatment becomes a topic of conversation can be complicated and messy. Addiction can change a person, turn them into someone unrecognizable, even to those closest to them.
Addiction is not a flaw or personality trait. It is a chronic disease, and like many other diseases, there are treatment options available. Learning how to approach a loved one with an addiction can help both of you understand the nature of their addiction.
Trying to maintain a relationship with someone struggling with addiction may seem impossible at times. The stress and strain addiction places on intimate relationships can end up causing resentment and frustration.
With all of these challenges and potential for negatively charged emotions evolving, finding a way to fight addiction and maintain your relationship can seem endlessly complex. However, there are several options available to help get your partner the treatment they need.
Addiction And Marriage
Marriage brings two people together, while addiction can tear people apart. The combination of these two opposing factors can cause significant problems at home as addiction chips away at the marriage.
The reality is that more than 66.7 million people reported binge drinking in the last month, and over 27 million people admitted to currently using illegal or illicit drugs. It is not ridiculous to imagine that several of the 21 million Americans in need of substance abuse treatment would be married.
Addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, gender, or relationship status. The disease of addiction knows no limitation. Understanding the nature of addiction can help when you are deciding how to approach your spouse about their substance abuse.
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A partner who previously was simply that, a partner, an equal, a confidant, can become someone you barely recognize if they are addicted to drugs or alcohol. They may engage in behaviors that are uncharacteristic, and the breakdown of the marriage seems inevitable.
However, it is not hopeless. While you may not be able to force your loved one to go to rehab, there are things you can do to try to help the situation, and take care of yourself in the process.
What To Do If Your Spouse Is Addicted
When a spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol and refuses to get treatment, it can feel like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thankfully, there are a number of things that you can do to explore options while still maintaining a respectful relationship with your spouse, such as:
Admit there is a problem
Acknowledging that your spouse is struggling with addiction does not mean you are sharing family secrets or destroying the trust in your relationship. In fact, you don’t have to tell anyone until you are ready, you just need to admit it to yourself.
This acknowledgment simply allows you to start thinking more clearly about the nature of your spouse’s addiction.
It’s Not Your Fault
No matter how many times a person says it, addiction is not the fault of a partner or spouse. When a person struggles with addiction, they may blame those closest to them for their problems. This does not make it true and you are not to blame.
Substance abuse and addiction are generally due to numerous factors, but none of them are directly related to the spouse or partner of the person with the addiction. This is a tactic that addiction uses to guilt the other party into enabling their partner to fall deeper into addiction.
Becoming educated and learning about addiction can help you to understand what your spouse is experiencing, or may experience due to their substance abuse. Exploring the stages of addiction, warning signs of substance abuse, side effects and consequences of addiction are just a few of the topics worth exploring when learning about substance abuse and addiction.
Finding an addiction specialist may be helpful when trying to learn about the nature of a spouse’s addiction. These individuals are highly educated and understand the nature of the disease of addiction. They can provide information and clarity, as well as years of professional experience.
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Enabling is one behavior that must be stopped in order for a person to see the impact addiction has on their marriage and on their own life. When a spouse enables their partner, it removes consequences and many negatives that typically come with addiction.
When your partner finally experiences the full negative effects of addiction, they may change their tune and see that there is a problem. Once their eyes are open to the realities of addiction, they might realize they are in need of treatment for their addiction.
Build A Support System
Having friends, family or other individuals affected by addiction available for support can help you figure out your own role within your marriage after it has been affected by addiction.
Considering a therapist or addiction specialist may also be a benefit as you figure out your role in the process. Therapists can explore areas like enabling and codependent relationships, and how to stop engaging in them.
Support groups can help you find your inner strength as well as develop a supportive relationship with others who are experiencing the same situations and emotions as a result of a loved one being addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Take Care Of Yourself
Do not forget that you have also been affected by your partner’s addiction. There is no shame in admitting that you need help dealing with the side effects of your partner’s addiction.
Seeking professional assistance can help you regain strength and clarity, so you can figure out the next steps. Being the partner of a person with addiction does not have a cookie cutter solution. Having a clear understanding of options will help you decide your next move.
Changing dynamics within the marriage will likely result in resistance from the addicted partner. Cutting off enabling behavior will usually lead to your husband or wife being frustrated or angry. Setting boundaries that define what will and will not be tolerated can help you identify where your limitations are.
Creating boundaries also helps you stand your ground if those boundaries are crossed. It’s similar to drawing a line in the sand. Informing your partner of these boundaries will allow them to make the decision to cross them or not, as well as the consequences.
How To Get Help For My Spouse Who Has An Addiction
There are a number of methods out there that have been somewhat effective when seeking treatment for a loved one struggling with addiction. Finding a medical professional willing to discuss the health risks of addiction or staging an intervention have been effective when trying to talk to a loved one about seeking treatment.
Conversely, bullying, threatening, giving ultimatums or other aggressive tactics are much less effective, and usually cause more harm than good. Refusing to cover up or lie for your spouse will make them feel pressured, but it is in a much more healthy way than making threats.
When the end goal is sobriety, inpatient substance abuse rehabilitation is a good option. While some may benefit from outpatient or one-on-one options, an inpatient treatment facility can assist with detox, education, vocational services, substance abuse counseling and a number of other treatment methods that focus on long-term sobriety and relapse reduction.
If your spouse refuses to go to rehab, contact us today to explore options for you and your partner.