What many people expect in a relationship is a fulfilling experience that helps them grow into better people. Relationships require commitment to one’s partner and the ability to show that partner support and love no matter what. There are certain situations that can drastically change your relationship for the worse – one of these is addiction. Addiction can be a harsh and brutal wake-up call for a spouse of an addict.
Addiction not only has its fair share of physical effects but it also involves behavioral changes. These changes can be problematic and stressful in a relationship. It can be painful to see your spouse change for the worse.
Being the spouse of an addict can be extremely stressful and complicated. While it may be tough, it’s important, to be honest with yourself and your spouse at all times. Usually, the best course of action when there is trouble in a relationship or marriage is to reach out for professional help.
Those who are married to an addict are often put in a complicated and painful position. Seeing a loved one change completely and become consumed by drugs or drinking can be heart-breaking. This can create a feeling of hopelessness that takes a toll on a person’s well-being. If this sounds familiar, it’s important to reach out to a facility like Phoenix Rising so you can get the best treatment available for you or your spouse.
Substance Abuse in the U.S. – The Statistics
Drug abuse has continued to be an issue for millions of spouses, parents, and children. Addiction does not discriminate and continues to be a huge problem. Throughout the last few years, illicit drug use has risen substantially. Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. abuse drugs (age 12 or older). 137 million people (age 12+) reported using alcohol in 2015.
These numbers continue to rise with every single year that passes. It’s not surprising that many of those numbers are many spouses of addicts. Unfortunately, many people never get the treatment that they need and just continue on in their path to destruction. It’s important, to be honest about drug abuse, and get help instead of avoiding the problem altogether.
How Does Addiction Affect a Relationship?
As the spouse of an addict, it doesn’t take long for you to see the stressful tension and problems that can arise with drug addiction. Substance abuse is something that affects both people in a relationship. Being married to an addict can be a complicated and painful situation. While the person on drugs suffers in their way, the partner can experience mental distress and other problems as well. A few problems that may emerge within a relationship after some time include drug abuse include:
- Financial troubles
- Verbal, physical, or even sexual abuse
- Frequent conflict
- Anger and resentment
- Legal problems including child custody or drug use
- Depression, loneliness, and other negative mental problems
- The other person may turn to drugs/alcohol themselves
Alcohol and drugs, in general, can create a household of resentment, anger, and impaired judgment among other problems. In some severe cases, drug abuse and drinking can end up escalating to physical, mental, or sexual abuse. In these cases, it’s important to be honest about the situation.
It’s also important to know when to get emergency help (this can be legal charges and other consequences). As the spouse of an addict, if you ever feel that you are in danger, seek immediate help from your local authorities.
Helping Your Partner Without Enabling Them
Offering unconditional support before, during, and after a spouse’s addiction treatment is essential. As the spouse of an addict, you should remain supportive and focused on the end goal – sobriety. The process can be grueling and exhausting but a life free of addiction can be the key to happiness and a much better life for you and your loved one.
It is imperative that you aren’t unintentionally enabling your partner to continue using substances. Enabling a person occurs when you allow a person to continue using without consequences. Enabling a spouse can occur even when a person has the best intentions that then get twisted and taken advantage of. As the spouse of an addict, enabling can come in the form of different actions and thoughts. Enabling includes:
- Picking up the responsibilities of a loved one who is using drugs
- Giving up your own needs and desires to help someone else
- Making excuses or even taking the blame for a loved one who’s using
- Allowing abuse to occur (yourself or someone else)
- Letting them borrow money or use the money for drug use
- Ignoring or avoiding the problem
It’s essential to look out for such behavior as individuals will only continue enabling more drug use as time goes on. Setting boundaries and being honest with your partner is essential to avoiding enabling them to continue their drug use.
A Look at Codependency
Codependency can be a very dangerous combination in relationships where you are the spouse of an addict. Codependency occurs in a relationship where one partner has intense physical and emotional needs. In turn, the other partner spends much of his or her time catering to these needs. This ends up creating an unbalanced and dysfunctional relationship between the pair.
In codependent relationships, a person can be enabled to continue using which can create worsened consequences. Being in a codependent relationship with an addict can be a toxic and destructive situation. Therefore, it’s essential to know the possible signs. Codependent behavior can include some of the following traits:
- A blurred line between love and pity
- Doing much more than one’s fair share of time/responsibilities
- The intense need for recognition and approval
- Feeling hurt if a person doesn’t recognize one’s efforts
- A large feeling of responsibility for other people’s actions
- Highly dependant on relationships (going out of their way to keep a relationship and avoid being abandoned)
- Putting too much effort and time into the relationship (for the other person)
How you Can Help Yourself and Your Spouse
As painful as it can be to be the spouse of an addict, there are things that individuals and their partners can do today to help the situation. Being the spouse of an addict is not an easy journey, but it is essential for a happier and better life down the road. Each person within a relationship should practice self-care. Let’s take a look at some of the things individuals can do right now to help.
Practice a Healthy Routine
One of the best things a spouse of an addict can do is practice healthy and productive activities. Being married to an addict can cause many issues for a person’s mind and body. As a result, it can be tough to focus on a person and that person’s relationship. In these cases, being self-aware is key to success. It is no surprise that the mind and body are connected, so you should strive to take care of both.
No matter how busy you or your spouse may be, it is also possible to practice healthy habits when you can. Being the spouse of an addict can end up taking away a lot of your energy and time for yourself. Take time to implement these habits into your routine for a clearer and more focused mind:
- Exercise when you can (jog, go to the gym, walk, swim, etc.)
- Eat healthily
- Practice good sleep habits
- Drink a lot of water (stay hydrated)
- Practice mindfulness for yourself and your spouse
- Pick up hobbies or interests you enjoy
- Practice holistic and spiritual techniques
- Attend support groups or therapy
With anything in life, it’s important to stick closely to a routine and not let it become forgotten. Practicing healthy habits has been proven to improve people’s quality of life. These habits can be great ways to refresh a person’s mind and body. They can even become ways to bond with loved ones in a healthy and better way.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon to see cases where the blame for a spouse’s addiction is passed back and forth. Addicts may blame their spouses for their addictions and in turn, the spouses may blame their addicted partners for using substances in the first place. This can create a vicious circle of blame that never gets resolved.
It’s important to avoid playing the blame game and instead have honest and productive conversations. Communication is key in a conversation and a marriage. Even if stress and emotions are running high, think about how people can work together to find solutions to problems.
Set Boundaries and Enforce Them
One of the prime ways to avoid enabling a partner is to set boundaries. Being married to an addict can be a bumpy and unpredictable road. This is why individuals should set specific boundaries and stay consistent with them.
Have consequences for a person’s actions and decide what’s tolerable. Drugs can rewire the way a person thinks and acts, don’t let this change your perception of what matters most.
Fortunately, there are many addiction treatment options available for your spouse. No matter how bad an addiction may appear to be, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Recovery centers like Phoenix Rising offer many individualized and specialized forms of addiction and alcohol treatment. Talk with your spouse about the possible treatment options and choose one that’s right for you:
- Quality outpatient and intensive outpatient programs
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
- Trusted therapy options with qualified professionals
- Group therapy for both men and women
Don’t wait for things to get out of hand. As the spouse of an addict, it’s important to help your partner towards a better life. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment methods and our addiction resources!