What To Do As The Spouse of An Addict

by | Last updated Jun 12, 2023 | Published on May 13, 2021 | Family Recovery | 0 comments

What To Do As The Spouse of An Addict

Substance abuse is very complicated; there’s nothing average about it. A vast amount of users deal with various life circumstances and need the care to cater to their unique needs. In other words, no one person’s experiences with substance abuse are exactly like the other, so their treatment shouldn’t be either. Part of this is also true for the spouses of those suffering. 

Oftentimes, much attention is given to those who are battling substance abuse directly, and rightfully so, sometimes, however, those who are affected indirectly aren’t given enough attention to – namely the spouses of those involved in dangerous substance abuse habits.

How Substance Abuse Can Affect The Relationship

Marriages that suffer from substance abuse usually do so in any or all of the following ways:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Financial difficulties
  • Legal conflicts (DUI or illicit drug possession)

When somebody is suffering from substance abuse, it’s almost as if that person isn’t even in the driver’s seat of their own life. The urges someone has to use drugs tend to interrupt every part of a person’s life; for those who are married, this disorder tends to take the steering wheel of their shared lives together. 

It’s not easy being the spouse of an addict. The psychological torment of watching someone you love so dearly be controlled by the influence of drugs hurts more than anything else. Drugs and alcohol have a way of not only impairing one’s judgement, but also influencing harmful actions, both physically and psychologically. This tends to be upsetting as it only leads to even more conflict, intensifying a couple’s circumstances.

Due to the residual effects of substance abuse, treatment should be considered and executed in the most serious of manners. This is especially true for those who have been abused, whether it be physical or psychological. For those who are being abused as a result of addiction, it is imperative that they seek help immediately. 

Recognizing the Signs of Addiction

Your spouse might display the following symptoms if they are suffering from substance abuse:

  • Lack of honesty
  • Lack of self-care/grooming
  • Lack of interest in certain activities 
  • Lack of interest in friend groups
  • Decline in sexual performance
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Shaking

Most often, nobody knows a person better than their spouse. However, sometimes those people may be in denial or blinded by their love for a person to recognize the severity of a substance use disorder. We never want to think the worst for our partners, but it is imperative that if any or all of these symptoms are recognizable, they are held up to a light of truth. Doing this may save their lives and the life of the marriage as well. At first glance, it’s hard to tell as to when a conversation would be beneficial. This is why it’s important to recognize the symptoms listed above.

Help is Closer Than It Seems: Stage an Intervention

In a very general sense, the purpose of an intervention is to bring addiction or any other problem to someone’s attention. Ultimately, during an intervention, those who are involved communicate the negative impact that their substance abuse has had on them. The end-all-be-all is the desire to convince the person to seek out substance abuse treatment. Sometimes this can be innately difficult due to one’s denial of the problem at hand. 

These conversations are usually held in a group setting and are also planned out by those staging it. It shows them that their addiction has hurt the ones they care about most. Sometimes, people who stage an intervention can get caught up in the success; these people measure success by whether or not the subject ends up agreeing to get help. It is imperative to note that this should not be the overall goal. The intention of an intervention is to solely bring their substance abuse and its impact to their own attention. It may even take a few days for them to admit that they need help. 

Treatment Options are Available 

Life with substance abuse is extremely difficult, especially when a spouse is the subject of addiction. Often times, it seems that help is next to impossible to find. Thankfully, however, there are options that are available to meet the needs of every individual who deals with substance abuse.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is a program that allows patients to live in the care of one of our treatment facilities. This provides those involved with 24-hour access to professional medical staff to meet their needs day and night. They also have access to professional therapists and psychiatrists. This treatment option is great for those who suffer from severe cases of addiction and could last anywhere from 28 days to six months. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient programs are ones in which patients are able to recover with minimal disruption to their daily lives. In fact, these people are able to stay at their homes so long as they attend treatment on a weekly basis. This treatment option gives patients anywhere from 10-12 hours weekly to professional therapists and psychiatrists. This treatment could last anywhere from three months to over a year.

Detox Treatment

Detox treatment allows an individual to wean themselves off of drugs in a comfortable way. Coming off of drugs is a rather difficult task. When you take into account the symptoms of withdrawal, the hardships of quitting can become more evident. This is why medically-assisted detox is so important; with it, patients who are trying to come off of drugs can do so without experiencing the harsh symptoms of withdrawal.

How Substance Abuse has Affected You

Substance abuse is a dangerous habit due in large part to the fact that not only does it hurt those abusing drugs or alcohol, but also those who love them. Seeing your spouse experience addiction is a very hard thing to watch. In fact, oftentimes it’s so hard to watch because you want to do everything you can in order that they can be free from the shackles of addiction.

Not only is it difficult for a spouse to watch their partner be impacted by substance abuse, but it’s also hard because one can become more susceptible to depression and anxiety when their loved one is suffering. 

Mental Illness

Depression is a mental illness that influences and distorts people’s minds, self-image, and judgment. Due to a common misconception that equates depression with sadness, it is imperative to note that the two are not necessarily synonymous. Depression is not just a fleeting emotion; it is a disease that takes control of every part of a person. It can be brought on circumstantially, psychologically, or both. Those who have to watch their spouse battle substance abuse are perhaps more likely to suffer from depression.

Watching a loved one battle addiction can also lead them to develop anxiety. Anxiety is oftentimes how the body responds to stress. More specifically, it is when someone becomes fearful of what could happen in a particular circumstance. However, anxiety in a general sense should not be confused with an anxiety disorder. 

A general anxiety disorder happens when someone is excessively worried for a consistent amount of time over a six month period. This can be related to life circumstances or could be completely biological. Traumatic or negative experiences, like being married to someone with substance abuse, can lead to someone developing a genuine anxiety disorder.  

Prioritize Your Mental Health

If you are the loved one of someone who struggles with substance abuse, it is imperative that you also seek help. Depression and anxiety are not to be taken lightly, and even if you don’t necessarily deal with either of those two disorders, it could still be a great idea to confide in someone. Seeking help of any kind would work towards the benefit of those sharing their lives with someone who suffers from substance abuse. 

Freedom For You And Your Spouse

At The Freedom Center, we believe it is extremely beneficial to find the right kind of care not only for your spouse but for you as well. Our goal is to be sure that every patient who walks through our doors is treated with the utmost care; we want to be absolutely certain that they are met with the care that caters to their unique needs and also the needs of their spouses or loved ones.

Seeking the right treatment option can be difficult and very overwhelming, especially if you are looking to get help for those you love the most. To be absolutely certain that your spouse is being taken care of is one of the most comforting things to feel in a marriage, and that may mean getting your spouse to one of our facilities. If you or your spouse are suffering from substance abuse and would like more information concerning treatment options, contact us here, or call us at (888) 291-4362.






Written by: Nick B.

Nicholas B. is the Corporate Director of Admissions for our substance abuse and behavioral health company. Nick’s mission is to provide quality care to every person that reaches out regarding substance abuse or behavioral health questions. Knowledge of an ever-changing industry, compassion when dealing with people, and compliance in every decision are the forces that drive his personal and professional growth.

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