A Guide for Spouses of Addicts

Close relationships in our lives are meant to help us grow and connect on a deep emotional level. Your partner should be someone you care very much about and a person you are willing to commit time to. However, this fundamental idea can be forgotten when you are a spouse of an addict.

When your spouse is suffering from drug addiction, you can begin to feel the effects as well. All forms of drug addiction can cause rippling effects in their life and yours. It is not an easy situation but there are things you can do to help your spouse and yourself. 

We’re here to help you repair those wounds and become an effective source of support for your spouse in need. It is never too late to turn things around for the better. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can handle being married to a drug addict. 

Being the Spouse of an Addict: The Effects of Addiction on Your Relationship

It can be difficult being in a relationship with someone who is abusing substances. The situation can take a toll on you and your spouse. Apart from the physical symptoms your spouse experiences, you too can feel the mental effects of seeing them under the influence of substances. 

As a result of substance abuse, your relationship may begin to deteriorate. Some cases of addiction can lead to constant fighting or disagreements, not to mention the mental toll. Addiction can make a relationship much harder to deal with for the spouse of an addict. 

Addiction Statistics – Spouses of Addicts

A study conducted in 2015 estimated that around 27 million Americans (ages 12+) used illicit drugs. A big chunk of this staggering number was probably in a relationship at the time. Hopefully, this helps you understand, as a spouse of an addict, that you are not alone in your struggles. 

It is important to know that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Hundreds of thousands of people get treatment for addiction and push towards a better life every day. It is never too late to get help for a loved one with an addiction. 

How to Support A Partner Without Enabling

A solid support system is crucial when dealing with cases of addiction (especially in a relationship). It is important to be a shoulder to lean on without enabling your spouse or partner. Enabling occurs when you make it possible for the person to continue abusing drugs. Enabling usually happens unintentionally and makes it hard for the other person to accept any consequences for their actions. 

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In many cases of enabling, the person doesn’t even know they are doing it. It’s important to be aware of enabling signs so you can truly begin to help your partner. Some examples of enabling behavior include:

  • Allowing your partner to abuse you or others
  • Letting your spouse neglect their responsibilities (work, school, etc.)
  • Putting your self second when helping your spouse
  • Coming up with excuses for your partner

Codependency 

A codependent relationship (or codependency) happens when one person has extreme emotional or physical needs and the other person spends the majority of their time responding to these needs. This can result in a person forgetting about their own needs and interests to help the other. In the long term, this can pose many problems to the relationship. 

If you are married to a drug addict, a codependent relationship can begin to go south if it’s not addressed. This can lead to a toxic relationship between enabling and codependency. Examples of codependent behavior include the following:

  • Heightened need for recognition and approval
  • Becoming hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
  • Exaggerated amount of responsibility for other people’s actions and behaviors
  • Confusing love and pity (gravitate towards people they can ‘pity’ and help)
  • Putting too much effort or time into a relationship (when compared with their partner)
  • An unhealthy level of dependency on relationships (will go to great lengths to hold on to a relationship)

Taking Care of Yourself as the Spouse of an Addict

When you are the spouse of an addict, it can take a big emotional toll on your life. You may forget to take care of yourself, which can result in a number of negative effects on your mind and body. It’s important to be self-aware and take care of yourself. 

Sometimes something as simple as a daily routine or practicing good habits can make a big difference in your life. Even if you are busy, setting aside your busy schedule to practice these habits can be great. It’s necessary to take time for yourself sometimes, try these simple habits and stick to them:

  • Hobbies
  • Mindfulness
  • Spiritual activities
  • Exercising regularly
  • Good sleep hygiene
  • Getting the right amount of sleep

Staying Away from Blame

It is not uncommon for blame to be passed back and forth when you’re the spouse of an addict. You blame them for their drug abuse and they blame you for driving them towards drugs in the first place. This can turn into a vicious cycle of blame that just adds fuel to the fire. 

To steer clear of the blame game, it is best to practice communication and support. Instead of placing blame on one person or the other, try to talk about the problem and your feelings. Working together is necessary if you plan on making any changes in the future. 

Setting Boundaries

Another crucial part of being married to an addict is setting and enforcing boundaries. When someone abuses drugs, the brain gets rewired. This can result in toxic and aggressive behavior. Setting boundaries and sticking to them can help build a relationship of respect and space. 

In some cases, your spouse may try to ‘test boundaries’, it’s in these moments that you should stick to them as mentioned before. Supporting your loved one is one thing but being taken advantage of is another thing. You should set clear boundaries with consequences if they are crossed. 

Treatment Options for Those Suffering From Addiction

At the end of the day, treatment might be the key to living a happier and healthier life with your spouse. It’s important to stick by your spouse’s side but know that you don’t have to go through it alone. Facilities like North Jersey Recovery Center are here to guide your partner and you towards a better life. 

Treatment depends on the substance being abused and the severity of the addiction. There are a lot of different options and treatment types that you can explore. North Jersey Recovery Center has a number of treatment options, ranging from substance abuse to alcoholism

Detoxification

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Typically the first step of any treatment is detoxification. Detoxification essentially gets rid of all substances in the body. It is meant to tame some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with abruptly stopping drug consumption. Detox is not a complete ‘cure’ but rather the first step towards recovery. 

At North Jersey Recovery Center, we make sure the process is comfortable and effective for you and your spouse. We understand that being a spouse of an addict can be a difficult situation. We’ll be your guiding light through the entire process. Our detox service is trusted and safe. After detox is complete, you can move on to more personalized treatment options. 

Support Groups for Your Spouse

Support groups can be a great way to understand and work on one’s addiction. Learning about your inner thoughts, coping mechanisms, and techniques to help with the addiction is all part of the process. Opening up about your addiction to other cans be highly beneficial and useful. Listening to others in the same boat as you can also help you see that you’re not alone in this battle. 

Alcoholics Anonymous 

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a widely known support group that deals with alcoholism and addiction. If you are the spouse of someone who is abusing alcohol, AA meetings can be an excellent choice. As with regular support groups, you are given a chance to listen to others. 

Alcoholism can be the source of much pain and anger in a relationship. It can take a toll on you and your spouse. There are thousands of AA meetings that are held throughout the United States every single week. Check your local AA listings for local meetings and more information. 

It’s Not Too Late to Get Help

Being the spouse of an addict can be a disheartening experience. There are many challenges that you must deal with to help your relationship get on track. Addiction can affect both you and your partner as well. Luckily, it is not too late to get help.

North Jersey Recovery Center is here to help you and your partner get to a better and healthier life. It may seem like a tough road ahead but we will be by your side throughout the entire process. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get help. Contact us today to learn more about our facility and treatment options for you and your spouse.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Laura-Riley-Cropped-Profile-150x150Laura Riley, MA, LCADC, CCS is an Administrator with North Jersey Recovery Center.