Signs of Addiction in a Spouse and What to Do When They Need Help

man sitting in hooded sweatshirt on stairs outdoors, visibly upset - spouse addicted

By Sandy Baker

Does your loved one use drugs or alcohol? Do you fear their use is turning into an addiction? It’s hard to come to the conclusion that your spouse needs professional help. You may wonder why they don’t just stop using. You may fear they may overdose when you’re not there to help.

How Do You Know Your Spouse Is Addicted?

It’s estimated that 63.8 million U.S. adults have either had a substance use disorder or mental illness in the previous year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Many of these people are high-functioning adults. They go to work. They meet at least some of their responsibilities. Yet, they still have an addiction. Could this be happening to your spouse?

Common Signs of Drug Addiction

You know your spouse. You probably know what their “normal” behaviors are. You may also recognize when something isn’t right. If you believe your loved one is using drugs and alcohol, it’s time to find help. Look for some of these signs.

Social Withdrawal

Many men and women pull away from friends and family members when they are facing addiction. They may even hide their use from you. They do not like to spend time in groups. They would rather be alone for long periods of time. They may even isolate themselves on a routine basis. Some may even be secretive about what they are doing or where they are going.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When addiction occurs, a person becomes dependent on the substance. Their body and brain crave that substance and require it for “normal” functioning. That’s what keeps them going back for more. It’s also what limits their ability to stop using on their own. If your spouse is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when he or she does not have access to the drugs they use, that’s a clear indication of addiction.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Unexplained muscle pain
  • Feelings of being ill, such as nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive sleepiness or an inability to sleep
  • Agitation and moodiness
  • Jitteriness
  • Inability to concentrate

Missing Out on Family Interactions

Your addicted spouse may forget your child’s functions. They may even forget to pick the children up from school. They may come home late at night after everyone is in bed. They may also miss time at work or not complete tasks properly, even if they’ve always been a reliable worker. They seem to be missing the mark on a lot of things.

Often, people with addiction strive to do what they should at home and work. Yet they cannot concentrate and may have an inability to focus on tasks at hand.

Changes in Personal Hygiene and Looks

You may also notice changes in the way your loved one looks. He or she may not shower as often. They may be skipping things like brushing their teeth. Many people will struggle with nutritional deficiencies since substance use often changes or limits appetite.

They may also look disheveled. They may not dress properly for work or may look worn down. You’ll notice they forget things often, such as papers or projects.

Changes in Mental Health

Addiction can bring out mental health complications. It can also mask the symptoms of mental health disorders. If you’re looking at your loved one and wondering what happened to them, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are they depressed all of the time?
  • Do they seem to be anxious about nothing?
  • Do they seem to act inappropriately and out-of-character?
  • Are they lying to you?
  • Do they seem to be totally different people at the start of the day compared to at the end of the day?

You may find they are more prone to fight and have arguments. Sometimes, they may be confused or act as if they don’t understand what you’re talking about in a conversation. These are all signs of cognitive changes that can stem from addiction.

Are You Worried About Your Spouse?

As you take a look at these signs of addiction, don’t ignore them. Take action. The sooner you do, the more chance you have of protecting your spouse’s life and future.

What should you do now?

  • Talk to your spouse about what you’re seeing. Don’t blame them, but ask how you can help.
  • Ask them to not use drugs and alcohol around your children or family members.
  • Determine if a drug and alcohol treatment program can help them. Our team at The Ranch at Dove Tree can answer your questions.
  • Set up rules to ensure your spouse knows they cannot come into your home drunk or high.
  • Take action to get them into treatment. An intervention may help you.

If you’re asking yourself, “Is my spouse addicted to drugs and alcohol?” you may already know they need help.

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