Supporting a Spouse in Addiction Recovery
When you have a spouse or partner struggling with drinking or with drug addiction it can be quite an emotional roller coaster. Alcohol or drug rehab is a step in the right direction, but addiction recovery can have its ups and downs as well. Even in sobriety, a rocky road is ahead. A common question that a spouse may have is "How do I support my husband/wife in addiction recovery?" Today we provide you with 5 helps on how to offer this support.
- Let them Work their Program
First of all you must understand that for a while it can be important that your loved one put their sobriety first in their life. Some spouses have been known to feel left out and jealous as their significant other is going to meetings and making new friends. Do not do this! Recovery is a process and for a while it needs to come first. So, let them work their program, be with a sponsor, and attend meetings. You can be supportive in this. Try not to be too involved. This can have a negative response. If your spouse wants to share with you how they are doing in their program, they will. If they don't want to tell you how meetings went, or what they talked about with a sponsor, don't take it personally, just continue to try and support and encourage them as they work their program.
- Take Care of Yourself
We understand that you can be hurting from a loved one's substance abuse as well. We have a family program at Cirque to help loved ones of residents by providing workshops, educational support and therapies to get the ball rolling. As your loved one works their program, you too have to take care of yourself. Sadly, in most homes where alcoholism or drug addiction is evident, dysfunction, unhealthy roles and boundaries have been established. By getting help for yourself you can learn to create healthy boundaries and establish the roles of your spouse. Al-anon can support you in your efforts. Continuing in personal therapies and couple therapies can also help you with communication in the relationship.
- Build on Common Ground
It does take time to build trust back. It does take time to heal those deep wounds. As you spend time doing things together, it can act as an ointment towards these past hurts. Find activities, a common ground in your life that you and your spouse in recovery can enjoy together. Plan a night each week as sort of a recovery type of date night. You go to Al-anon, your loved one goes to A.A. Afterwards you go out for coffee, or to dinner. If you have children, find common ground activities that you can all be involved in as a family. As you enjoy life experiences with your spouse, it can help with the adjustments that come with addiction recovery. In time, hopefully it can help to heal past wounds and struggles.
- Don't take it Personally
One thing you will learn by going to Al-anon is how to handle your own emotions when it comes to your loved one's addiction recovery. You can't take it too personally, because you will be faced with problems in the process. Your relationship will change to some extent with a sober partner. Down the road there may be complications, but you should never pass or assume blame or take these changes personally against yourself. Your spouse's recovery does involve you, but their sobriety really is about them. When bad things begin to happen, old habits and even relapse, you have to understand the nature of addiction. It is not your fault. Continue to try to support them and encourage them to get the proper help they need.
- Patience is the Key
Even with a spouse in addiction recovery, they may not become the person you were hoping they would be right away. It can take time and your patience can be the key. It might be a process for them to live up to your expectations. There can be a period of adjustment to go through after they have completed drug rehab. We understand that this can be frustrating. Please be patient with them. You will be moving at different paces when it comes to the recovery process and with your relationship.
When all is said and done, you will find that the rewards of a healthy relationship and sober spouse far outweigh any of the struggles and problems that can come with the transition of addiction recovery. Be prepared for those initial ups and downs and be supportive and encouraging as they work their program. People can and are recovering from this disease every day. By supporting your spouse and taking care of yourself, your relationship can recover as well. The hopelessness, uncertainty and fear you had in your spouse's substance abuse can be replaced with love, joy and trust in long-term recovery.