Addiction is a complex illness that can affect every aspect of somebody’s life. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma and shame surrounding addiction, especially when it comes to substance abuse.
This negative connotation makes people more resistant to seeking help and treatment. It often causes them to become secretive, deceptive, and withdrawn in a bid to protect themselves and their partners. However, this ultimately ends up harming both people in the relationship.
The good news is that there is a way out. If your spouse has an addiction, help is available for both you and your partner.
Often, the partner of someone with an addiction will neglect themselves and become hesitant to ask for help. If this resonates with you, remember that looking after your own needs, well-being, and mental health should be just as much of a priority as supporting your partner.
Many marriages can suffer as a result of addiction, but many marriages can also recover with the right support, care, and guidance. You can get your life and relationship back on track.
What Is Drug Abuse?
Drug abuse involves taking illicit drugs, legal drugs (such as alcohol) in an unsafe way, or prescription drugs in a way that a doctor has not recommended.
Substance use disorders and alcohol use disorders, which can be mild, moderate, or severe, are characterized by abusing substances. Addiction and substance dependence can develop if a disorder is severe.
How Can Drug and Alcohol Use Affect Romantic Relationships?
Drug and alcohol addiction can have a huge impact on romantic relationships. Your partner’s distance and secrecy can damage your self-esteem, sabotage the trust between you, and cause your marriage to feel as though it is falling apart.
For a marriage to be healthy, it relies on mutual respect – your husband’s addiction can endanger this. It may be hard to respect and trust your husband if he continually makes up excuses, hides things from you, and behaves unpredictably.
This lack of trust and respect will inevitably affect intimacy, be it emotional or physical. If your addicted partner is more preoccupied with substance abuse rather than caring for and respecting you, it can feel challenging to build emotional intimacy with him. Drug and alcohol abuse can also affect physical intimacy. If your spouse is also struggling with a mental health condition, it can be even more complex.
If your spouse is actively addicted to drugs or alcohol, their addiction may result in financial problems. For example, he might not attend work, or he may spend the family budget on acquiring substances. This can leave you feeling stressed about money and income, which could gradually take its toll on your relationship.
Unfortunately, for some couples where there is an addicted spouse, domestic violence may be experienced. Addiction often causes conflict, which can quickly escalate when someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Regardless of how unwell your spouse is, domestic abuse is never okay, and you should seek help immediately if you feel endangered. Intimate partner violence includes physical abuse, psychological aggression, sexual violence, and stalking.
There are many confidential phone numbers you can call if you feel like your spouse is controlling you or you are being physically, sexually, or verbally abused.
How Can Substance Abuse Affect Other Family Members?
Unfortunately, an addicted spouse can impact other family members. A substance use disorder is more than just a solo experience due to the ripple effects on other people. It can cause a lot of anxiety, confusion, and lack of trust between family members. Your addicted spouse may be avoiding a family get-together, and you may be covering for their behavior to hide their addiction, which can cause other family members to feel hurt and distrustful.
Substance abuse and addiction can also have a destructive impact on children. It can make them wary of relationships and lead to issues forming bonds in childhood. Sadly, these negative consequences can continue into adulthood. Most children who have a parent struggling with addiction feel anxious, frightened, confused, and guilty.
Am I Supporting or Enabling?
Supporting a partner with an addiction can feel completely overwhelming. It can take a toll on your physical and mental health, and you may feel lost and helpless. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish whether you are supporting your spouse or enabling.
Enabling behavior is when you (usually unconsciously) let your partner continue to abuse substances without consequences. This can be done through taking on your spouse’s neglected responsibilities, making up excuses on his behalf, not taking care of your own needs in favor of his, or letting him abuse you or another person. It can also occur through creating explanations that enable your partner to live in denial.
If your spouse has an addiction, it is good to set boundaries. If you are unsure whether you are enabling, assess whether you are setting healthy boundaries for yourself and whether you are getting professional support.
Also ask yourself whether you are letting your spouse take responsibility for his addiction, whether you are giving yourself time and energy to do things you enjoy, and if you are taking care of your own well-being.
Luckily, there are many substance abuse treatment options available for your partner’s recovery. There are also additional resources available to support and protect you.
In terms of treatment options for your spouse, he will need to attend either inpatient or outpatient detox and rehabilitation once he agrees to receive treatment. Some substances are life-threatening to quit suddenly, and many others are highly dangerous, so you must consult a health professional who will guide you through the process.
Never attempt this alone. All drugs require a different type of treatment, as does each individual, so a medical professional will create a personalized treatment plan to fit your husband’s unique needs.
After detox, your spouse will need to enter treatment to overcome his psychological addiction. This can involve a range of support groups, therapy sessions, or counseling to get to the root cause of the addiction. This will begin in rehab and continue after to ensure a successful long-term recovery and prevent relapse.
Support for Couples in Rehab
Many spouses choose to attend couples therapy or family therapy as part of addiction treatment. This helps family members have open conversations in a non-judgmental space, allowing for greater understanding between individuals. Therapy also improves communication skills and helps families reconnect and rebuild broken bonds.
It is important to remember to prioritize doing things for yourself too. If your husband struggles with an addiction, you may experience low self-confidence. However, by doing something you enjoy, such as spending time with friends, this can improve.
Attending individual therapy can additionally help you express yourself and learn healthy coping mechanisms in a safe environment. You can also participate in support groups which will help you connect with others going through a similar situation, leaving you feeling less isolated.
Drug addiction does not affect only one person; it has an impact on an entire family. Married couples are often put under a tremendous amount of pressure due to the negative consequences and behavior of an addicted spouse. The relationship usually starts to center around addiction before slowly becoming your whole life, damaging your marriage.
If your spouse has an addiction, you may have a decreased interest in things you used to enjoy due to the emotional strain you are under. Re-engaging with friends and things you love will ultimately energize you and boost your mood.
It is essential to seek support for yourself, your spouse, and your marriage. Talking through your feelings, either in a support group with loved ones you trust or in therapy, is very important.
Understanding that your husband’s addiction is not your fault and that it is not your job to cure him can help relieve some of the pressure and get you back to feeling like yourself again.