By Sandy Baker
Are you married to a drug or alcohol addict? It’s not uncommon for a spouse or significant other to spend their days juggling a dozen different things. You may not have help around the home. You worry about the financials. You fear what’s happening to the person you love. If your spouse is struggling with addiction, they need help. But you need support, too.
Addiction and Marriage
Addiction strains marriages. It can leave a spouse feeling unable to balance everything that needs to be managed. The range of emotions is also difficult. You may feel angry at your spouse for allowing your lives to fall apart like this. You may be afraid of what’s happening to them and feel helpless to fix it. You may feel confused about the difference between helping and enabling.
Your marriage was supposed to be your safe haven, where there was nothing to fear and plenty of love. Your home may no longer feel safe and secure. Your future may feel terrifyingly unclear.
Addiction does more than just impact the emotions of a spouse. It can create a strong rift in the marriage because of what is happening behind the scenes. Secretive habits, poor relationships at home and work, and broken promises to quit create mistrust and disrespect in marriages.
Whether it is alcohol dependency or heroin addiction, men and women who have an addiction to a substance are first and foremost dedicated to continuing that addiction. Most lack the ability – mentally or physically – to simply stop. Recognizing this, it’s up to you to make decisions about how to move forward.
Protecting Yourself from the Negative Fallout
Your first step in trying to move beyond this lifestyle is to recognize that you have to take care of yourself first. In any situation where your health is at risk, it may be time to step away from that relationship for a few days, weeks, or longer. Focus on fixing you, first.
While marriage is a commitment, you cannot help someone with substance use disorder unless you are emotionally, mentally, and physically okay first.
Seek Out Support Around You
No matter at what stage your loved one’s addiction is, you need support to help you learn how to manage it and its impact on your life. This means seeking out local support groups and professional counseling for addiction.
We encourage you to learn more about the treatment programs available for families at The Ranch at Dove Tree. A supportive counseling program for spouses and family members of addicts provides a strong starting point. You don’t have to seek out an addiction treatment center for this type of support, but doing so means you’ll be equipped with knowledge about how to help yourself and your spouse at the same time.
Turn to local support groups for spouses of addicts. One such organization is NAR-ANON. They offer family groups specifically designed for families and friends of addicts. These groups, which are set up in a 12-step program, provide local meetings to help you find others near you who are going through the same thing. This type of supportive network can be empowering for spouses. Also, check into local AA support groups. Some will offer family and caregiver support programs, too.
Getting Your Loved One Help
Working to protect your own life and well-being is essential, but it will not get better until and unless your spouse seeks out addiction treatment. In some situations, this means hosting an intervention to encourage them to get help.
In other cases, you simply need to tell them what is going to happen if they don’t get help. Most spouses do not want to enable an addict, but until you set firm boundaries to encourage them to get help, they may simply not do so.
Other times, it’s best for you to recognize that they need to enter drug and alcohol detox immediately. In these situations, getting them into detox may be required to save their life. Only after detox can they make their own decisions about the right treatment plan for their needs.
We Are Ready to Help You and Your Loved One
Though you feel helpless right now, there is help available for you. Your life does not have to come to a stop, but you do have to take action to protect yourself and your family as soon as possible. Reach out to our team at The Ranch at Dove Tree to learn more about the programs available to help your loved one and you.