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Addiction within a marriage is challenging and can bring incredible strain to your relationship and family life. In fact, alcohol and substance use are among the most common reasons given for a divorce.

Being married to a person with an addiction can feel chaotic, unpredictable, and stressful. Drugs and alcohol become their priority, and it often feels like you and your family take a backseat to their substance use. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve done everything you could think of to help your addicted spouse. You’ve come to realize no amount of begging, crying, or coddling can bring someone into sobriety. So, what can the spouse of someone suffering from addiction do? Here are some ways you can help your spouse with a drug or alcohol addiction. 

Do Not Enable Them

Enabling behavior is common in spouses of people married to those suffering from addiction. Sometimes, you might find yourself changing your behavior and going against your own sense of what is right and wrong just to keep some stability in your life and relationship. You may tell yourself you are protecting your addicted spouse, but what you may unconsciously be doing is enabling their addiction. Here are some examples of enabling behavior in a spouse:

  • Putting your spouse’s needs above your own
  • Calling into their work/school with fake excuses to cover for them
  • Making excuses to family members and friends to save them from embarrassment and shame 
  • Giving them money when they ask for it, knowing they are going to buy drugs or alcohol
  • Rationalizing abuse or mistreatment of a substance and allowing it to continue

Enabling behavior — though meant with positive intentions and love — only sends the message that it is alright to keep doing what they’re doing. Stop yourself from this behavior by allowing them to deal with the consequences. Don’t allow them to put you in dangerous or compromising situations. Don’t hold back your true thoughts, needs, and wants in the relationship. Seek help and comfort from sober friends and family who can support you. Let your spouse know that you will no longer help further their addiction until they seek treatment.

Prioritize Self Care

Most importantly, you need to take care of yourself. It’s nearly impossible to take other steps if this doesn’t happen first. Resources like therapists and support groups for loved ones living with those who have an addiction are useful. You’ll receive support and learn how to cope. They’ll teach you to put healthy boundaries in place with your loved one. You’ll learn how you could be enabling your addicted spouse’s substance abuse. Enabling behaviors are sometimes tricky to identify. They feel like you’re helping your loved one, but they do more harm than good. A trained professional can help you recognize and change these behaviors. You’ll become more resilient. You’ll also learn how to effectively communicate with your addicted spouse.

Detach Yourself

When you’re married to a person living with addiction, you wear many hats beyond just that of husband or wife. You’re a caregiver, parent, excuse maker, nurse, fixer-upper, and in many cases, codependent. Detaching yourself is incredibly important for you to move forward with healing while also supporting your spouse. Detaching means you love your spouse enough to let them make their own mistakes. It means accepting what you can’t control, and taking care of yourself, even when your spouse isn’t taking care of you — or themselves. 

Though it may seem hard to believe, detaching can help not only you but your addicted spouse too. It shows you have faith in their inner strength and their ability to take care of themselves and clean up their life. It means you can overcome codependency. Seeing a counselor — not only with your spouse but by yourself — can help you learn how to detach healthily while maintaining your love and overall relationship with your spouse. 

Prepare For Rocky Moments

It’s important to understand that addiction doesn’t come with an ‘on’ and ‘off’ switch. It’s a chronic illness, and relapse rates are between 40-60%. Understanding that addiction is a disease will help you understand that relapses don’t mean that treatment didn’t work, or that your spouse doesn’t want to get better. Relapses are learning opportunities, and another chance to move forward into permanent sobriety. As a spouse of a person with addiction, you need to understand that drug and alcohol treatment isn’t a “cure,” but rather the start of a lifelong process. The work isn’t over even after they leave the treatment facility. There are things you can do to help support them through the harder times during sobriety and relapses, including: 

  • Attending couples and/or family therapy
  • Encouraging them to attend support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Holding strong boundaries and not engaging in enabling behavior 
  • Knowing the warning signs of relapse

Stay Supportive

When your spouse is in treatment, follow the recommendations of the treatment team so you can support them throughout their entire recovery process. Participate in family therapy or couples counseling during and after treatment.

If you can, stay positive in all of your conversations with your spouse, particularly tied to their sobriety. Let them know that you truly believe in them, that you know they have the inner strength to beat the disease of addiction and get on the path to health and wellness. 

Get Your Spouse Treatment

Sobriety is the ultimate goal for your addicted husband/wife. The first step to that is getting them into treatment. However, most people with addiction are not willing to go on their own volition. Even if they agree to get help, those suffering from addiction can be fickle; once they agree to get treatment, it’s important to get them into a treatment facility immediately. 

Here at Summer House Detox Center in Florida, we will help your spouse get the alcohol and/or drug detox they need with dignity and respect. We provide a safe, home-like environment where your spouse will receive medication to ease them off the substances they are addicted to comfortably. 

We understand that leading an alcohol and drug-free life is a life-long process, and the first step is detoxification and treatment. We have over a 20-year history of helping individuals with their detoxification process and have a unique medical protocol that can be individualized to provide care comfortably and safely.

If you or someone you know is in need of addiction treatment in Fort Lauderdale, FL, give Summer House Detox Center a call at 800-719-1090 to schedule a FREE consultation. You can also visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.