What to Do When Your Spouse Is Diagnosed with Addiction

couple problems in which the man doesn't want to speak to his woman

Being married to someone suffering from an illness always has its challenges, and this holds true in the case of addiction too. If your spouse or partner has been diagnosed with a drug or alcohol addiction, you can help them when you understand how to provide the support they need.

You can weather the impact that addiction can have on your marriage and provide meaningful help and support for your loved one by educating yourself, coping with changes in your relationship, and preparing for setbacks.

Addiction and Its Implications for Marriage

Knowing that addiction and recovery will impact your marriage allows you to prepare for some challenges that you may face. You will worry and may even feel less trust for your loved one based on behaviors they exhibited before they were diagnosed and agreed to treatment. You may feel stressed because of the obligations you need your spouse to meet, like child care or work.

While these concerns are genuine and warranted, you can learn ways to cope with them and provide your spouse with support during their treatment and recovery process.

Getting Educated

Once your spouse is diagnosed with addiction, it’s important to learn all you can about this disease and the addictive substance in question.

Addiction treatment center staff can often provide you with considerable information and resources that will help you provide the support that your loved one needs during and after the treatment process.

Part of the frustration for many spouses comes from an inability to understand their spouse’s choices; once you learn that addiction is more often fueled by powerful compulsion as opposed to choice, you can begin to understand the underlying aspects of this disease and how they must be treated.

Coping with Addiction in Marriage

Your spouse didn’t wake up one day suddenly addicted to drugs or alcohol. Likely, many factors influenced the development of this addiction. These factors will need to be addressed during treatment and, in many cases, will result in significant changes in the addiction sufferer’s life. This may mean pulling away from friends who drink or abuse drugs. It may mean that alcohol can no longer be stored in the house.

Other changes may occur. For example, you may find yourself with more and greater responsibilities than you had before. Coping with change can be difficult, but reaching out to a family therapist or even your own counselor can be extremely helpful as you try to navigate all the changes in your marriage and personal life.

Preparing for Relapse

The current industry standard for supervised treatment usually consists of a bout in medical detox followed by a dedicated term of inpatient or intensive outpatient therapy. Treatment usually lasts 30-90+ days. Studies have shown that longer treatment can decrease the chances of remission. Addiction is a chronic disease and it will take a lifetime of commitment in order to maintain sobriety. It is important to acknowledge that treatment will not just “solve” the problem.

Addiction treatment is merely the first step in a long recovery process. Many addiction sufferers will enjoy bouts of remission (i.e. sobriety), but other periods may be studded with relapse.

Roughly 90% of alcoholics will relapse even after treatment. Many addictive drugs like meth are also associated with extremely high relapse rates.

The key is to return to treatment and never to give up. Keep in mind that setbacks occur in disease recovery; addiction isn’t alone in this regard.

Be prepared. Understanding the challenges and preparing for relapse you can learn to provide the type of support your loved one needs. Caring for your spouse also involves caring for your marriage and yourself, so be sure to obtain the help you need when you need it too.

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