Many of the most complicated relationships we have in life are the ones we have freely chosen- our spouses. We actively seek out a person to love and cherish for, hopefully, the rest of our lives. Somehow, though, these are often the relationships that end up needing more work than we have ever thought possible. One reason for this is alcohol or drug addiction. Addiction is a destructive force, and it can be a terrible burden to have to deal with a spouse who is addicted. It may not have even been an issue in the very beginning of your relationship, but now here you both are- dealing with it every day.
So how do you help your spouse with their addiction? What can you do? Let’s look at the steps you should take when you’re in this situation.
1. Read up on the subject of addiction
We often find ourselves with a person we feel like we don’t even know anymore. Addiction can and does change people, even a loving spouse who seemed perfect in the beginning. Addiction is a disease like any other, and it causes difficulties within the family unit. When you realize that your spouse has a problem, start reading up on the subject of addiction. You’ll find more information than you could ever imagine online, but it also helps to talk to someone knowledgeable about the subject face-to-face. If you are unsure of where to begin, talk to a doctor, trusted family member or friend, or a member of your clergy.
2. Avoid denying the problem
Loving an addict is very painful sometimes, especially if their behavior has changed for the worse. And unfortunately, there is still a stigma that surrounds addiction. In some cases, the spouse of an addict ends up pretending that there is nothing wrong with their loved one. They may downplay the addiction or deny it completely. This helps no one, so don’t be afraid to face it head-on as soon as possible. As we stated above, learning about addiction and talking to someone who knows more about the subject will help in many ways. Denying it won’t.
3. Stop enabling your spouse
Enabling a loved one is usually done with good intentions. You may have made excuses for your spouse in the past so they didn’t lose their job, for example. Some spouses even buy alcohol or drugs for their loved one. Enabling hurts more than helps, however. When an addict doesn’t have to face the consequences of their addiction, it will almost always cause them to continue using more and more. Learn how to stop enabling your spouse by reading up on the subject and changing your own behavior today.
4. Take care of yourself
It’s easy to get burned out when you have to shoulder the responsibility of an addict, particularly when that person is your husband or wife. You may be able to help your spouse change in the future, but you can only really change yourself by practicing self-care as often as possible. It’s important to find time to take care of your own needs and wants. By doing so, you’ll become stronger and more resilient to what is to happen in the future. It’s not selfish to want some time to yourself, so schedule it when you can- and often.
5. Find your own support group
Even if you have read all that you can about addiction, you need one-on-one help to understand all the aspects of the disease. You may feel alone when it comes to your addicted spouse, but there is always strength in numbers! Remember, there are thousands of people out there dealing with the exact same problems you are suffering from right now. Connecting with these people will make you feel less alone and helpless. Look for local support groups, such as Alanon, that will help you through the process. If there are none in your immediate area, you’ll find plenty of online groups you can interact with day and night.
Call for help today
When your spouse is suffering from addiction, we can give you the help you need. Call us today at 833-610-1174– we can handle it from here.