Our Blog

How to Help a Spouse Struggling with Addiction

Home » Blog » How to Help a Spouse Struggling with Addiction

Marriage is a lifetime commitment to love, honor, and cherish your spouse until death do you part. When you speak those vows, you might not be thinking about the potential obstacles you may face in your marriage. There is no doubt that keeping a happy, healthy marriage is hard work, but that doesn’t mean that unfavorable challenges can sneak in. And when it comes to a disease as powerful addiction, sometimes even the strongest of marriages do not survive. 

About 24 million married Americans are either addicted to drugs or alcohol themselves or are married to someone who is. Unfortunately, this means that there are millions of marriages that are experiencing the negative effects of substance use disorders. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), drug and alcohol addiction within a marriage is considered one of the most common “final straw” issues that lead to divorce. 

No one ever goes into a marriage thinking that one day they will be dealing with an addiction that jeopardizes everyone and everything around it. In fact, many people find themselves getting married to their significant other despite the inconspicuous signs and symptoms that they are having more of a problem with drugs and alcohol than what meets the eye. It is human nature to lead with the heart, especially when it comes to finding and solidifying that bond with your significant other. But, it is important to be able to identify when your spouse is experiencing the disease of drug addiction so that you can attempt to help – not enable – them in getting sober. 

Signs That Your Spouse Has a Drug Addiction

Many people think that the person who is living with someone with a drug addiction is the person most aware of the addiction. However, this is a common misconception. When you are that close to someone with a drug addiction, it is possible that you might not register just how serious the situation is. This isn’t because you are not intelligent, aware, or trying to do your best, but rather because a disease like addiction can slowly (but surely) creep into your everyday life. You are more likely to excuse your spouse’s drug addiction away than you are to confront it on the spot. However, knowing the signs of drug addiction in your spouse can make everyday occurrences become much clearer, allowing you to begin figuring out how to help your spouse with drug addiction.

Some of the most common symptoms a spouse might exhibit when dealing with a drug addiction can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Mood swings (intense and/or unexplainable)
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home
  • No longer participating in previously enjoyed activities
  • Being emotionally unavailable 
  • Experiencing financial problems 
  • Coming into legal troubles
  • Feeling anxious or paranoid
  • Feeling depressed, hopeless, or worthless
  • Problems with memory

If your spouse is displaying any of these symptoms, they may be struggling with a drug addiction. Thankfully, there are things that you can do to help.

How to Help a Spouse with Drug Addiction Instead of Enabling

If you believe that your spouse is addicted to drugs, you may be wondering what you should do next. You might even be nervous about whether you should even help or not. Addiction is a confusing, frustrating disease that impacts everyone regardless of if they are the ones using or not. 

So, how to help your spouse with a drug addiction? There are several ways, but it is absolutely imperative that you are aware of the differences between helping your spouse and enabling your spouse. When you help your spouse, you are taking action in ways that encourage them to seek treatment and work on their recovery. When you are enabling your spouse, you are doing things that you may feel are helpful, but are instead more harmful. Here are some examples of enabling:

  • Making excuses for your spouse when their drug addiction prevents them from being responsible 
  • Providing your spouse with money to purchase drugs 
  • Driving your spouse to obtain drugs or to hang out with other people who are going to do drugs
  • Allowing your spouse to continue doing drugs in your home

While you may be trying to prevent your spouse from taking matters into their own hands (such as stealing to pay for drugs), these types of behaviors only allow the drug addiction to become worse. But, as you learn how to help your spouse with drug addiction, you can implement specific strategies that foster positive outcomes.

Helping Your Spouse During Treatment and After Recovery

There are several different approaches you can take to help your spouse with drug addiction in ways that don’t fan the flames of the problem. Consider the following:

  • Don’t enable – Enabling, as mentioned before, can occur mindlessly. You might not even think you are doing more harm than good. But, it is important to be aware of what enabling is so that you don’t do it. 
  • Set boundaries – Setting boundaries for yourself and your family allows you to draw a distinct line between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable when it comes to your spouse’s drug addiction. For example, you may not allow drug use in the home or else your spouse needs to go stay somewhere else. 
  • Encourage treatment – Have an honest, non-judgmental conversation with your spouse about treatment. Let them know that you support them 100% when it comes to getting treatment for their drug addiction. Inform them that you will be there to help with all the details all while being their #1 cheerleader. 
  • Get help for yourself – Easily one of the most important ways that you can help your spouse is by helping yourself. You cannot expect to be a source of support for someone else if you are not taking care of your proverbial side of the street. You can help yourself by seeing a therapist, joining support groups in the community, or practicing good self-care. 

Do not be afraid to reach out for help during any point in this process. Asking for help is a sign of strength, especially when facing a disease as destructive as addiction. 

Drug Rehab in St. Augustine

If your spouse is grappling with a drug addiction, do not wait to get them the help they need. Reach out to us at Pearl of the Sea Retreat to learn more about how we can help you and your spouse during this difficult time.