spouse of an addict

Marriage can suffer greatly when one partner is struggling with addiction. Spouses are deeply affected by the other’s substance use, to the point that real damage can be done. Substance abuse puts so much pressure on a marriage on top of normal daily demands. So much, in fact, that sometimes the union will not be able to withstand it.

In a marriage both partners play a role in caring for each other and the marriage as a whole. When substance abuse creeps in it can cause strife, broken trust bonds, money problems, and legal issues and more. To preserve the marriage, it is essential that the partner receive the help he or she requires to break free from the addiction.

Couples can support each other as one goes through treatment and begins recovery. Along with therapy and other treatment elements, it is also good for couples to learn about how to avoid co-dependency. Setting healthy boundaries and learning how to share feelings are also helpful aspects of a couple’s journey to wellness.

How Addiction Affects Partners

When a spouse is battling a substance use problem it affects every aspect of married life. Not only does the substance abuse create a chasm in the marriage, but it also fosters anger, pain, and resentment. A household in which one partner is engaged in substance abuse may feature some very harsh effects. These may include:

  • Fighting. Strife in the home is common when a spouse has a drug or alcohol problem. The substance abuse, and the effects of the substance itself, can lead to intense fights and even violence.
  • Money problems. The spouse may end up losing their job due to the substance use, which can result in money issues. Any money that is there may go to fund the substance abuse. Bills go unpaid and this can lead to housing insecurity.
  • Deceit. The addicted spouse will begin to tell lies and deceive their mate to cover up his or her substance problem. These actions can cause trust bonds to be broken.
  • Enabling. When a spouse is an addict, the other will often begin enabling his or her substance use disorder (SUD). They may cover for the spouse, lie for them, and do the things the spouse should be doing themselves.
  • Isolation. As the substance problem worsens, the couple may begin to avoid social events and gatherings. This is due to feeling self-conscious about the effects of the SUD out in public.

How a Parent’s Addiction Affects Children

It isn’t only the spouse who suffers due to substance abuse in the home. About 1 in 8 children are living with at least one parent that has an SUD, reports SAMHSA. Children are deeply impacted by a parent’s addiction. Some of these effects include:

  • Kids suffer from a lack of structure, even chaos that results from a parent’s SUD.
  • The children often struggle with behavior problems in school.
  • There are mental health effects.
  • Sometimes the parent with the SUD will even neglect or abuse the child.
  • Kids may begin to feel they are the parent, handling tasks that should belong to the parent.
  • A child is often filled with feelings of shame about the parent, and won’t invite friends over to the house.
  • Having a parent with an SUD is a risk factor for the child to begin using substances themselves later in life.

Knowing When a Partner is Developing an Addiction

Each couple’s story is unique. In some cases, it may not even be known that a partner has an SUD. Some spouses manage to hide the signs for a while before it becomes clear there is a problem. These are called high functioning addicts. Some of the red flags of an SUD include:

  • Finding the substance or paraphernalia in the home or car.
  • They lie about how much they are drinking.
  • They can’t limit their intake of a substance.
  • They stop paying bills or taking care of daily tasks.
  • They have angry outbursts.
  • Misses work often, even wanting the other spouse to cover for them.
  • Seems obsessed about having the substance in the house.
  • Neglects their appearance.
  • Has mounting legal troubles.
  • Has mood swings.
  • Shows signs of withdrawals when substance wears off.

Many times when a spouse of an addict confronts the other about the substance abuse they will be met with denial or excuses. Even with these clear signs of an SUD they will deny they have a problem, at least at first. Don’t give up. Do some research about treatment programs and check into your insurance plan to see what is covered. In time, the spouse will hopefully decide to get the help he or she needs to tackle the SUD.

Treatment Solutions for Couples

When a partner is struggling with an SUD, there is help to be found. Treatment involves a multi-phased system that begins with detox. After the spouse completes detox they will move into the treatment phase of recovery.

Treatment will not only include therapy, classes, and other treatments, but also couples or family therapy. During these sessions, couples are guided towards learning better ways to communicate, to settle conflicts, and to manage emotions. Partners are coached on how to set healthy boundaries, and how to support their spouse in recovery. This support is crucial to the partner’s success.

Life after rehab will require patience. As the spouse gets stronger in recovery they will earn the other’s trust again. It just takes some time to prove that they are truly committed to staying sober. And as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Bodhi Addiction Helps Couples Restore Wellness

Bodhi Addiction Treatment and Wellness treats the whole person, not just the disease. We believe that the mind has a strong impact on a person’s ability to break the cycle of addiction. At Bodhi we guide clients to explore their emotions as well as learn new coping skills to sustain sobriety. For more detail about our program, please call us today at (877) 328-1968.