On the day that you vowed to love your partner for better or for worse, you likely envisioned a bright future full of possibilities and happiness. Now, however, you know that the person that you should be able to rely on the most in the world is also a drug addict.
Whether the discovery of your spouse’s habits was shocking or something that you suspected all along, you must now figure out how you will address being married to an addict. And it’s a huge one. You probably feel like your world is falling apart. You’re scared and likely devastated.
Understand How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Changes Relationships
When one or both partners in a relationship struggles with addiction, you see negative patterns in their interactions. Over months or years, your partner has done things that are disappointing. For instance, many people try to hide their addiction and this usually involves lying and deceit. They may steal money from you, or sell household items so that they can buy drugs.
Depending upon the nature of your partner’s addiction, they may engage in other activities such as infidelity. Which is a huge betrayal, but also very common when people are under the influence and unable to make clear decisions. Not that that is an excuse, but it is often the reality.
Sadly, you can’t turn back time and change your partner’s behaviors, but you can begin to understand how substance abuse leads to them making decisions that they would not make if they were sober. Now that you have an explanation for their behavior, take the time to examine how you feel about your spouse and whether or not you can move past this difficult time in your relationship.
Should you Leave or Stay?
Now that everything’s out in the open, you face one of the most difficult decisions of your life. Should you pack up and leave, or stay and fight for your marriage? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. And what works for some, may not work for others.
Is your spouse willing to attend treatment? For most, this is a good starting point. You cannot work on your marriage if one of you continues to use drugs. If you are unsure of what to do, then talk to a trusted professional such as a counselor who can walk you through the process of figuring out what is going to be best for you and your family.
Learn How to Support Your Partner
A drug addict must first learn how to take ownership of their behaviors and get help. They are 100% responsible for their recovery, but they will also need to lean on you for support as they work through their treatment program. Today, spouses are encouraged to be involved in their partner’s treatment. Working together gives you the best chances for renewing a healthy relationship. Once your partner admits that they are an addict, let them know that you want to work with them through the process of achieving sobriety.
As the partner of a drug addict, your actions make a difference in their ability to remain sober. Remember that they need continued support, and this involves lifestyle changes for both of you when you continue to live together. For example, they need extra time to attend counseling and group therapy sessions. Recovery from substance abuse is a lifelong process, but long-term sobriety is possible with the right types of support.
Find Ways to Take Care of Yourself
Life is not always easy when you have an addicted partner. Therefore, you must make time for yourself to let go of negative emotions such as resentment, guilt, and even anger. Be sure to talk to a counselor about how your partner’s behaviors affect your emotional wellbeing, and take time out to care for yourself. Often, simple things such as eating right and exercising help to dispel the stress that you may feel when you worry about your partner having a relapse.
Begin to Rebuild Your Life Together
Sobriety changes everything. During your partner’s treatment, be sure to attend opportunities such as family counseling and visitation times so that you can start rebuilding your life together right away. At home, you can also establish a sober lifestyle that is filled with fun and exciting recreational activities that promote a life of sobriety.
The discovery that you are married to a drug addict is upsetting, and it is normal to have no idea at first where to start to begin the healing process. While you cannot erase what has happened in the past, you can work with your partner to change the future. By choosing to seek help, you open up the possibility of saving your marriage and even making it stronger.
Check out these addiction recovery resources for support:
Al-Anon – Al-Anon members are people, just like you, who are worried about someone with a drinking problem.
Nar-Anon – 12-step program for families and friends of addicts.
Smart Recovery Family and Friends – SMART Recovery is a science-based, secular alternative to programs like Al-Anon. They offer a variety of online support group meetings for family and friends of addicted loved ones. They also have face-to-face meetings in select cities across the United States and Canada.