When it comes to addiction, the person who is suffering from addiction is hardly the only one that feels its effects. While most of the time and attention goes to the person battling addiction, more often than not the family members of the addict can suffer just as much.
This is particularly true for the spouse. The spouse of the addict not only has to sit there and watch their loved one suffer while not being able to help but in many cases, they also might deal with abuse, whether it be physical or psychological. If you or someone you know is the spouse of an addict, it’s important to remember that you are not alone and there are people out there that want to help you. Here are some helpful tips for coping with spouse addiction.
Educate Yourself on Spouse Addiction
The scariest part of watching your loved one battle addiction can be the fact that you don’t know what they are going through and don’t know how to help. As someone who isn’t battling addiction, you might think to yourself why they don’t just stop drinking or abusing drugs since it is bad for them. Trust us, if they could just stop they likely would have already done so by now.
Educating yourself on addiction can go a long way when it comes to understanding exactly what your spouse is going through. This can help you better cope with spouse addiction. For example, there are certain signs that your spouse might be battling addiction that you can look for. Some of those symptoms include:
- Changes in their mental health
- A dramatic change in weight
- Changes in their sleep pattern
- A sudden lack of motivation
- A change in their interests or the people they hang around with
- Being secretive when it comes to money or having unexplained financial issues
If you have noticed any of these patterns it might be time to talk to your spouse about getting them the help they need.
Get Professional Help
The person who is suffering from addiction isn’t the only one that can benefit from getting professional help. As the spouse of an addict, you might be experiencing a lot of different emotions. It is important to talk to someone about these feelings and emotions and not just bury them.
As the spouse of an addict, there are 3 main types of therapy you can attend:
Individual Therapy for Spouse Addiction
Going to therapy can be a great way to talk through all your feelings when it comes to coping with spouse addiction. A therapist will not only provide you a safe space to share your feelings, but they also can provide you with valuable tools to help you as you go through addiction with your spouse. During therapy, you can work on:
- Improving your overall mental health and well-being
- Establishing boundaries
- Developing coping skills
- Starting the healing process
Couples Counseling for Spouse Addiction
A major issue that couples can have when it comes to dealing with addiction is communication. The spouse of the addict might feel like they aren’t being heard and the addict might feel that they are being attacked. Couples counseling can be a great way for both the spouse of the addict and the addict to share how they are feeling and deal with other issues that have come up as a result of the addiction, such as:
- Trust issues
- Financial problems
- Better communication
- Setting boundaries
Family Therapy for Spousal Addiction
While you, as the spouse of an addict, might feel the majority of the brunt and the impact of your spouse’s addiction, it can have a negative impact on the entire family. Family therapy can be very beneficial if you have other members impacted by the disease, including your children. Family therapists believe in using the entire family unit to evoke change and might ask each member to describe how the addiction has affected them.
Tips On How to Cope With Spousal Addiction
Find A Support Group
When it comes to coping with spouse addiction, a great thing to do is to find others who are going through spousal addiction as well. Finding a support group such as Al-Anon or another type of group that is designed for spouses and families of addicts can be a great way to learn how to best cope with spousal addiction as well as learn techniques to better handle everything that goes along with it.
During a support group meeting, those in attendance are encouraged to speak out about their own experience with substance abuse, their journey to recovery, as well as how they have learned to implement boundaries. They may also share their fears, struggles, hopes, and successes.
Make Yourself and Your Well-Being A Priority
When a spouse is dealing with a significant other who is an addict, they tend to spend all their time and energy focusing on their significant other and neglecting themselves. This can be incredibly harmful. Taking care of yourself is not an optional thing. To keep your body both physically, and mentally healthy, it is important to make sure that you prioritize yourself and your well-being.
So, how exactly can you do that? Well, the good news is you can do things to help your overall well-being without even having to put in a lot of time and effort. Here are some things you can do every day to take care of yourself if you just carve out a little time:
- Enjoying a hobby
- Reading a book
- Spending times with family and friends
Whatever it is that you choose to do, it is crucial to make sure you make yourself and your overall well-being a priority.
Your spouse is not well and that is one of the toughest things that you as their partner has to watch. You want to do everything in your power to help them, but sometimes that’s not always the answer. The only way for your spouse to truly get the help they need for their addiction is for them to take responsibility for their actions. That means, as hard as it might be, you can’t do everything to make life easier for them. Doing so might do more harm than good in the long run.
Setting boundaries is crucial for this very reason. You need to decide what you will and won’t do as far as helping your partner and stick to those rules. These boundaries you set could include anything from no longer calling your spouse’s job to tell them they are too sick to call in to no longer giving them money to fund their addiction to even refusing to bail them out of a fight, or worse, jail should they get arrested.
Determining whether or not it is time to set some of those boundaries can be hard. If you find yourself constantly going out of your way to help or defend your spouse when it comes to their addiction, or you are putting yourself or others in your family in danger as a result of their addiction then it might be time to instill some boundaries.
Support Your Spouse During Addiction Recovery
With any luck, your spouse will eventually decide to go to treatment for their addiction. They might decide on their own or it might even be court-ordered. Hopefully, for your sake, the decision comes quickly and without much hassle. While you might feel relieved that they are finally going into treatment, it is important to remember that it’s just the beginning.
Assuming they enter an inpatient program, you are going to have to be prepared to “hold down the fort” by yourself for however long they are in treatment. That means taking care of the kids (if you have any) and supporting the household. It’s also important to remember that you likely won’t be able to have much contact with your partner while they are in treatment.
Once they get out of treatment, they are going to need you as a solid support system. They are re-entering society as a newly sober person and that can be a very scary and overwhelming experience, especially in the beginning. It is important to support them in their recovery efforts as they reacclimate into society.
Want To Know More About Coping With Spouse Addiction?
If you or someone you know is the spouse of an addict, it is important to know that you are not alone. Just like some places can help your addicted spouse, there are people and places out there that want to help you too. At LA Detox we not only offer treatment services for those suffering from addiction, but also for their spouses and other family members.
If you need help dealing with a spouse suffering from addiction or want to know more about the programs that we offer, contact us today. Our number one priority is not only getting your spouse the help that they need but getting you the help that you need as well.