Spouse of an Addict: How to Handle Being Married to a Drug Addict

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Being married to someone is the biggest commitment that you can make. It takes time and effort to maintain a healthy relationship. Every marriage has many ups and downs, but what happens when your husband or wife develops a substance addiction that they have no control over? How do you support their recovery without enabling them to continue on the path they’re on? Our team at Northbound hopes to give you the information and tools you need to help your spouse achieve a full recovery from their addiction.

Substance Abuse Statistics 

Drug and alcohol addiction will affect 1 in 10 or 19.6 million Americans over the course of their lifetime. Alcohol is the most abused drug in the country with it being the cause of over 15.4 million addiction disorders. Illegal drug use, such as that of cocaine, meth, heroin, etc., is the cause of 7 million addiction disorders, and 2.4 million are caused by abusing over the counter medications prescribed by doctors like anxiety medication and sleeping pills.

There are many outlets for substance abuse, which is why it affects so many individuals. 

Because these statistics are so high, it is very common for married individuals to have to face substance abuse head-on by either becoming addicted themselves or their spouse becoming addicted. As a result, divorce, domestic violence, or addiction for both spouses can occur.

The Effects of a Spouse’s Addiction

A relationship, especially once at the level of marriage, is supposed to be the place you are able to unwind and be wholly yourself with that other person. This type of relationship is supposed to allow you to speak freely about disagreements and changes you wish to work on in the relationship. It’s a completely different story though when substance abuse becomes involved and addictive behavior is present.

When one person in a marriage experiences the effects of drug addiction, the other one does as well. The addiction starts to wear on many important aspects of this relationship such as trusting a person’s word, keeping up with finances or neglecting parental duties if children are involved. The relationship can even turn abusive if the addicted spouse begins mentally, emotionally or even physically harming the other. 

When one spouse in a relationship starts to falter, the sober spouse is forced to pick up the extra responsibilities. This can quickly lead to resentment. If you are on the side of the marriage watching your spouse slowly start to become a different person because of the substance they’re abusing, we are here to help. Our staff at Northbound Treatment is available 24/7 to answer questions and get the process of substance abuse recovery started for your spouse.

How Addiction Can Affect Your Marriage

When addiction happens within a marriage, a cycle starts to occur. Since it is such a testing and harmful disease, substance abuse can cause changes in the brain of the addicted individual. This, in turn, can cause them to start behaving differently than they normally would. 

When you get married, you generally have a good idea about the other person’s behaviors, triggers, and personality. This all goes out the window when addiction is thrown into the mix. Your addicted spouse can become angered more easily, which can lead to them using emotional and mental abuse to blame you for their problems. When you try to talk to them about the changes you’re noticing, they often times will pretend as if nothing is happening or avoid the subject altogether.

Supporting a Spouse vs. Enabling Them

Marriage is a two-way street and it’s likely that you often rely on your spouse for a lot of support and feedback in your life. When they have developed a substance addiction, that part of the relationship for you can fade into the background if you’re the only one always providing them with help. Maybe you lie to others for them so that your spouse’s addiction can stay hidden, or maybe you feel empowered by helping them because you feel like if their addiction goes away, they won’t need you anymore.

These are red flags when it comes to relationships. There should always be an equal balance of support coming from both ends. If you enable their addiction by covering for them and allowing them to continue their harmful, addictive behavior, they will never be able to face these issues head-on and beat them.

How to Avoid Enabling Addiction Behaviors 

There are many ways you can enable your spouse’s addiction. Enabling behaviors only hinders your spouse’s chances of getting help for their substance abuse problem. In order to help your partner to be aware of his or her harmful behaviors, it’s important to avoid enabling the individual’s addiction. Some of the things to avoid when your partner has developed an addiction to a substance.

  • Avoid going out to events where drugs and alcohol will be present just to prevent your spouse from driving under the influence. An addicted partner will struggle in environments where alcohol use and drugs are present. This can result in a relapse or downfall for the addicted spouse.
  • If your spouse doesn’t have any money because of the drugs or alcohol they’re buying, don’t allow their addiction to become your financial responsibility.
  • Don’t make excuses for them to their family or friends because of their addiction. This will only reaffirm the active addiction your spouse is experiencing. 

Northbound Treatment Center Facilities

There are two main types of facilities: inpatient and outpatient. When someone is admitted into outpatient rehab, this means they still have flexibility within their schedule. Individuals in an outpatient program can attend counseling sessions while still having time for their already existent outside activities.

Inpatient facilities involve around the clock care and support. It enables individuals to have intensive care in a drug- and alcohol-free atmosphere. This can encourage a more focused approach to recovery and eliminate negative influences such as alcohol use or drug use in their environment.

Most of the rehabilitation process is through support groups and counseling. Outpatient attendees will go about their regular day-to-day life while still going to counseling or group meetings 3 days a week while inpatient attendees receive these treatments within our facilities at Northbound.

Although outpatient treatment is very beneficial for some individuals, there are a lot of instances when inpatient rehab is a much better fit for someone looking to be treated for their addiction. If a person has a history of relapsing easily after completing time in rehab, inpatient treatment is a much more sufficient option. Addiction treatment has to be intensive enough for these individuals because they require constant supervision in order to not fall back into old patterns. 

It’s important for individuals who are suffering from addiction to get treatment that addresses their specific needs. Addiction affects people in different ways and the best way to ensure recovery is to get help from a program that focuses on individuals’ necessities. This is where Northbound comes in. We offer individualized care to our clients, working to provide people with nothing short of the best care possible! 

Types of Therapy Available

Our team at Northbound believes in encouraging our patients to be self-sufficient, independent individuals by the time rehab has been completed. Some of our therapies included are: 

Couple’s Therapy – In these programs, spouses are brought in to help both the patient and partner understand a better way to cope with recovery. Both parties are able to share thoughts and feelings on the subject, and the program helps to bond one another closer together. This shows the recovering addict they have a long-lasting support system after rehab completion. This form of family therapy can help with the addiction recovery process by allowing the addict to see the hurt that their spouse or family is feeling by their behaviors.

Group Therapy – This type of therapy can help individuals in treatment to learn more about their own journies through recovery. In a group setting, people can hear from one another, gaining a deeper understanding of addiction and its effects. This setting also facilitates interpersonal growth and encourages teamwork. As a result, those in recovery can experience improvements in their emotional and mental health.

Individual Therapy – One-on-one therapy allows an individual to speak with a therapist about things that may be too difficult or sensitive to discuss in a group setting. This type of therapy can help people to work through any emotions, triggers, or unhealthy cognitive processes they may be experiencing.

Gender-Specific Treatment: Often, patients fearful of sharing their experiences when in the presence of the opposite sex. Because men and women face different challenges than one another, we have specifically designed male and female therapies that allow both sexes to be treated in a gender-responsive approach. 

We also offer recreational therapies and meditation exercises that focus on relieving the mind and body of unwanted stress that may have caused the addiction in the first place.   

Helping Your Loved One Recover is Possible

Don’t waste another day wondering if there is hope for your partner to recovery as well as your marriage. Our licensed professionals within our facilities at Northbound willing to give you all the assistance you need in getting this process started.  

The treatment we can provide for your spouse will allow them to fully recover from their addiction if they give it a fair chance. Choose Northbound for your partner’s needs, and watch how the doors to your marriage reopen like they once were before. Contact our office to learn more about this opportunity to gain your loved one’s sobriety back.

Paul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.





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