Help! My Spouse is an Addict: How to Deal With Your Partner’s Addiction

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What if you wake up one day to find that your husband or wife is an addict?

Whether it is alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, prescription drugs, gambling, or any other substance or activity, finding out that your loved one is addicted can be a hard pill to swallow. And for some, it is not an overnight discovery. More often than not, it is a slow peeling of layers upon layers of lies and deception that leaves the addict’s partner devastated as their life together goes on a rapidly accelerating downward spiral.

Breaking Up and Breaking Out in Marriage and Addiction

As an addict’s partner, you may ask yourself: What else can you do? You may feel helpless and desperate, especially in a society where talking and seeking help about these issues are typically taboo.

Well, guess what–you are not alone. There are millions of people who are behind closed doors yet are in the same boat as you.  There is hope. Read on.

Understand That You Cannot Change Your Spouse

What most frustrates you must be the feeling that you cannot do something to make your partners stop with their addiction. It may surprise you, but the first thing that you need to understand is that you cannot change them. You cannot force them to do things as you want it to be done, especially when they have an uncontrollable link to their addiction.

How to Deal When Your Spouse is an Addict

Trying to change them may just make both of you stressed and angry. Addicts refuse, or are incapable, of admitting that they have a problem and may react violently if you needle them or even suggest they seek treatment. The only thing to do are these things:

  • Educate yourselfAt this point, being informed and educated about addiction is your best bet. This will help you understand the issue as well as your spouse. It will also give you a clearer picture of the situation, as well as the things you can do and the things you can expect. So instead of being angry or guilty, you are empowered to be there for your spouse who struggles with this disease.
  • Focus on YOU. If you are really resolved at helping your partner to eventually get better, you have to make sure that you are also physically, mentally and emotionally capable of helping them. Do not let your spouse’s addiction get the best of you. Maintain balance in your life by being productive, maintaining your social life, getting a trusted support group, be surrounded with positive things and people, and simply taking care of yourself.
  • Ensure your and your family’s safety. Addiction can cause a lot of problems that could potentially cause injury or risk to you and your family. Remember, nothing good can come out of an abusive relationship. Even if your partner apologizes and promises to never hurt or abuse you or any member of your family again, these promises are worthless because they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or have a behavioral addiction. Keep emergency contact numbers close and always let other people, especially family, of your situation.
Addiction is the Third Person in a Marriage

When Addiction is the Third Person in a Marriage

  • Do not enable your spouse. There may be times when you blame yourself for your partner’s addiction. They may even actually blame you for it. You have to understand that this is not true. Acknowledge the problem for what it really is and instead of bowing your head and succumbing to it, learn to say “No”. Set firm rules and follow through with the consequences of breaking them.
  • Know and avoid triggers. You are the one who knows your partner the most. Find out the people, places, and things or situations that make him want to use. These are called triggers.
  • However, avoid arguments. Being firm and assertive has its limits. There is no use arguing with someone under the influence of a substance. Pick a time when you know they are sober before calmly talking to him about what is bothering you, or what you want to happen, or anything in particular.

Should You Stay or Go?

Being in a committed relationship has its tests and having an addicted partner is definitely one of the hardest ones. Think of these questions:

  • How strongly are you committed?
  • What are the benefits of keeping the marriage or the partnership together?
  • What are the downside?
  • Can you make it on your own?
  • How will you deal with all the process of addiction and recovery?

These are some of the many questions that you need to consider. Before making any decision, seek guidance through counselling or talking with your family and friends. This decision is never easy and you have to pick at everything to find out issues are real and what are superficial fears. It is all up to you; but remember: you have to put yourself and your family above all.

This may be a tough decision but whatever you decide, know that there are many other people like you who were able to successfully deal with the situation in one way or another.

Should you stay or go

Photo: Ned Joliffe

Time is the Best Healer

Recovery, as with any sort of change, does not happen overnight. Your partner needs time to recover and you also would need time to heal. For them, they may also need time to acknowledge their problems. However, it is still best to seek support for them as soon as you can, before things get even worse, or even too late.

You can follow the tips mentioned above, and educate yourself even further to help you better understand addiction and your spouse. Keep your family and friends as a close support system as you go through this difficult time.


If you need help for your spouse or partner, or needing support, talk to our Rehabilitation Specialists now:

622-0193 / (0915) 6452703 / (0917) 5098826

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