The late nights, the missing money, the lies, and contradictions. Do you ever wonder if you’re living with a person who has an addiction? Shockingly, about 50 percent of American adults know someone who has a problem with addiction. Dealing with the cycle of recovery and relapse is emotionally draining, especially if the person on drugs is your spouse.
Can a marriage survive drug addiction? If you need to know the answer, this article’s for you. We’ll give you the inside scoop on how to recognize and deal with a serious addiction:
Common Signs of Drug Abuse
If you suspect that your spouse has an addiction to drugs, take the time to review your debit card and credit card statements. Do you see small ATM withdrawals spaced an hour or two apart? That could be a sign that your spouse has an addiction.
Other common signs of addiction include:
- drastic personality changes
- canceling important events
- diminished personal hygiene
- sudden unemployment
Coping with spouse addiction is tough, but what’s tougher is not knowing for sure. If you can, sit down with your husband or wife when they are definitely sober and have a chat. Ask for their honesty and let them know you’re ready to help them get clean.
If you’re going to stage an intervention, make sure you don’t bring too many people. Your spouse could already be feeling guilty and ashamed of their addiction and not want friends and family to know about it.
Keep your circle small and explain that you’re concerned about their health. Offer the chance to get help and express your love and support.
Coping as the Spouse of an Addict
It’s hard to know what to say to a drug addict who needs help. They might not be ready for help and that can be difficult to accept. What hurts the most as the spouse of an addict is the late nights spent worrying, the money wasted on drugs, and the constant lying.
If you know for sure that your spouse is taking drugs or alcohol, you should immediately separate your finances. You don’t want to run the risk of losing your home or car because of their spending habits.
You don’t have to turn to divorce right away but listen to your gut instinct. Do you believe that they will eventually seek help for their addiction or are they on a path of certain destruction?
If you want to leave but can’t do it right away, here are some tips to stay sane. Try to sleep from six to eight hours per night and eat meals at regular times. Drug addiction can be chaotic so it’s a good idea to develop healthy routines.
You might also benefit from attending group therapy for spouses of addicts. They can help you strategize about how to help your loved one get into a detox or rehab.
Detox vs. Rehab
If your loved one wants to stop using drugs, they will need to spend time in detox or rehab. These are typically two separate programs, though some hospitals and private facilities offer both options.
Detox is the process of removing drugs and alcohol from someone’s system. It’s possible to detox at home or in a controlled environment like a rehab center.
In severe cases of drug abuse, withdrawals have the potential to cause:
- heart attacks
Medically-assisted detox programs monitor your spouse’s withdrawal symptoms and keep them healthy while they cleanse. Detox typically takes one week or less to complete.
Rehab is what comes after detox. It’s usually an inpatient program that takes 30 days or more to graduate from. Rehab often includes medication, group or personal therapy, and individualized goal-setting.
Which should you do? To maximize the chances of long-term recovery, your spouse should probably do both programs.
How to Help an Addict Stay Clean
After detox and rehab, the real work of staying clean can begin. You may hear people with addictions talk about “people, places, and things” with regard to their recovery.
What it means is that they have to make new friends and not be around people who use drugs. They need to stay out of the places they used to go get high, and they need to throw away things like drug paraphernalia.
The road to recovery is filled with opportunities to relapse, but you’ll be a big support to your spouse at those times. You can help them stay clean by
- attending support groups and family therapy
- exercising with them regularly
- finding new hobbies and new friends
- being patient as they recover from their addiction
- not enabling their addiction
Enablers are people who overlook addictive behaviors, sometimes for years at a time. It’s kind of the ostrich mentality: keep your head in the sand and pretend the addiction doesn’t exist. Without facing the addiction, you’ll never be able to help your spouse heal from it.
If your spouse is serious about recovery and willing to make major life changes, you can continue along together. If they’re not willing to stop using drugs, you may have some hard decisions to make.
Can a Marriage Survive Drug Addiction after a Severe Relapse?
Can a marriage survive drug addiction and relapse? Yes, of course. However, if the addiction is severe, you may need to prioritize your mental health. The risk of relapse is a constant possibility that can sabotage the thrill and freedom of recovery. Half of all addicts relapse before they’ve completed one year of sobriety.
Ultimately, it’s your decision to make. If the ups and downs of recovery are too much to endure, you owe it to yourself to find stability and joy.
If there are children in the home, you may want to move them to a healthier environment. They can still visit with your spouse, even if you get a divorce.
Now that you know about how to help your spouse deal with drug addiction, take a look at our other blogs! We have inside info on everything from selling your home to improving your health…all on a budget.