Q: So Janet Tell Me A Little Bit About Your Relationship With Tom
A: Well, I met Tom my junior year of high school. He was part of the cool clique I guess you could say he liked to drink a few beers on the weekend and do a little drag racing here and there. That danger is probably what attracted me to him in the first place. We began dating the summer before my senior year and got married three years later.
Implementing Healthy Habits Into Your Routine
Being the spouse of an addict can have an emotional and physical toll on you. During a time like this, self-awareness is key. Be honest with how youve been taking care of yourself and what kind of emotions youre feeling. The body and mind are connected so taking care of both is crucial.
Even if youre a busy bee, you can still implement simple practices into your routine. The goal is to take care of yourself from the inside out. Being married to someone who suffers from addiction usually means that youre putting your own needs on hold. Its time to take a timeout for yourself.
The simple habits can include:
- Eating right
- Attending support groups and therapy
Helping A Spouse With Drug Addiction
Drug addiction can turn the person you love the most into someone unrecognizable. If your spouse struggles with drug addiction, you probably experience a wide range of emotions anger, fear, resentment, hopelessness, and more. You have likely endured hurtful words and actions from the person you should be able to trust the most.
Addiction is a family disease because it damages every person in the family unit. Besides the emotional pain and stress it causes family members, it may also cause financial, legal, and other serious problems.
But with professional help, recovery is possible, and the family unit can heal. Research has found that ongoing family support plays a vital role in a family members recovery. In fact, it is often a family member who gets the addicted loved one into recovery.
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How Substance Abuse Affects Relationships & Marriage
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy describes a cycle of conflict that occurs in domestic partnerships, in which substance abuse leads to verbal and physical conflict, which in turn leads to further disagreements about the substance abuse itself.
Alcohol and drugs can impair judgment, arouse feelings of anger and resentment, and create an atmosphere that leads to conflict at home.
Any experiences of abuse or potential signs of abuse must be taken very seriously in recovery. Individuals who have verbally abused or physically attacked their partners will require anger management courses and may face legal consequences, depending on the severity of the assault.
Anyone who feels that they are in danger because of an abusive partner should seek help immediately from legal authorities, a healthcare provider, or a substance abuse treatment professional. Online resources and support services on partner abuse are available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Ensure The Help You Are Giving Is Not Enabling Their Addiction
You inevitably want to protect your loved one and yourself from harm due to their addiction, but there is a risk that actions you take with this aim could help to enable them to keep taking drugs, drinking, gambling or whatever their addictive behaviour is.
If, for example, you make excuses for them to their employer to ensure they dont get in trouble at work or their job is not put in jeopardy, that is more than understandable. Your family finances may rely on your partner remaining in work. But, if they never face the consequences of their addiction, they may not take action to get well and if you continue to make these excuses it could be seen as a form of collusion in the addiction.
Its a very difficult situation for you to be in and coming up with a plan and finding the right support for you and them is vital to allow you both to move forward.
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Can I Force My Spouse Into Rehab
Some loved ones may ask themselves whether they can legally force their spouse into a rehab program. Some states have enacted involuntary commitment laws where certain criteria must be met in order to send someone to rehab involuntarily. Criteria for forcing someone into rehab may include: determining they are a threat to themselves or others, that an addiction has rendered them disabled, that the person lacks the ability to make decisions, and other potential criteria.
Help For Spouses Of Drug Addicts
There is only one person you can change yourself. As you help and encourage your spouse toward recovery, be sure to take care of yourself throughout this process. You can do so by:
- Finding a support system of your own, such as support groups designed for family members with addicted loved ones
- Seeing a therapist one-on-one along with any family or couples counseling
- Practicing self-care so that you have strength for the long road ahead
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Addiction And Support Resources For Spouses And Partners
Al-Anon: One of the most well-known and respected 12-Step programs in the world, Al-Anon is a group open to those who had been affected by alcohol addiction, including not only spouses and partners but also children, parents, and friends.
Couple Recovery from Addiction: This support organization follows a holistic healing model of couple-based addiction recovery, focusing not only on the recovery of the addicted spouse but of the relationship as well.
Nar-Anon: The counterpart program to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon is a 12-Step support group for the loved ones of people with substance use disorders beyond alcohol.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: The National Domestic Violence website is both a repository of resources and informational material for the victims and survivors of domestic abuse as well as a hotline that can provide immediate crisis intervention and support: 1-800-799-SAFE .
Recovering Couples Anonymous: While not affiliated specifically with Alcoholics Anonymous, Recovering Couples Anonymous functions on the same 12-Step principles of recovery, modified for couples.
SMART Recovery Family & Friends: SMART Recovery is a non-religious support alternative to groups like Al-Anon. The Family & Friends group is a part of the SMART Recovery system specifically geared towards the spouses, family, and friends of the person in recovery.
Written by: Megan Hesse
Effects Of Substance Abuse On A Marriage
Addiction can take a serious toll on personal relationships and particularly on marriages. One of the biggest problems caused by substance abuse is a financial strain. Addiction can be very costly and have a negative impact on family finances.
Substance abuse can lead to arguments and fights, which could in turn lead to more substance abuse. There are a number of things that could be argued about when you are married to an addict. Arguments can occur about their drug or alcohol use, staying out late, or neglecting home responsibilities.
If you have been unaware or lied to about your spouses use of drugs and alcohol, your trust for them could be negatively affected.
Trust is the most important part of a marriage and substance abuse could erode the trust that forms the foundation of your relationship. Lies about where the addicted spouse is or what theyre doing could continue throughout early recovery. Trust issues may persist throughout this time and both parties will need to work on this area.
We have covered many issues that can arise in marriages with an addict. Neglecting to communicate with one another could lead to these and many more issues. Although issues will seem to be overwhelming, remember that you and your spouse are partners and try to use these struggles to bring you closer.
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How To Help Your Spouse With Substance Abuse
If your spouse is in active addiction, here are five ways you can show your support:
How Addiction Impacts The Spouse Of An Addict
Once it has become clear that you are the spouse of an addict, it is normal to feel lost and overwhelmed. If you are the spouse of an addict, it is likely that you have been hurt by their past actions. It is acceptable to bring up this hurt in the right setting, as long as you do it in a way that doesnt blame the struggling individual for your troubles.
Intimate relationships should feel safe and comfortable for each person. When youre married to an addict, this is not always the case. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to cope with the new reality in which you live.
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Support Services For Spouses Of Addicts And Alcoholics
If you are married to an addict, you know that addiction does not just affect the addict. Your spouses addiction infiltrates into every area of your life and marriage.
You may have to deal with your spouse lying, cheating, or stealing in order to fuel the addiction. Your spouse may lash out at you verbally or physically. Finances may become strained when your spouse loses his job, and you bear the burden of supporting your family. You are the one the police calls when they arrest your spouse for a DUI or discover the overdose. Every moment of the day can seem filled with worry and fear.
Spouses of addicts and alcoholicsmay love their partner but feel hurt, betrayed, and frustrated when they look at the addict and think Cant you see what youre doing to us? Why wont you stop using? or If you really loved me, you would stop.
Understand What Your Partner Who Is Struggling With Substance Abuse Is Going Through
Educating yourself about addiction and substance use can strengthen your relationship with your partner, allowing you to better understand what they are going through and what to expect when your family member is in addiction treatment. Addiction is a disease that is unlikely to get better without treatment, so even though you might think that your partner can stop using alcohol or drugs through willpower alone, its usually not as simple as that. Chronic substance use causes persistent brain changes that impact a persons ability to cope with stress and maintain self-control. Without treatment, the problem is only likely to worsen.6,7
You can learn more about the specific types of treatment offered at AdCare, such as detox, inpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment. You can also encourage your partner to use our substance abuse assessment, which may make it more likely for them to seek help.
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Living With A Partner Addict
With growing rates of many types of substance addiction across the U.S., more and more husbands and wives are waking up to the stark reality that their loved one, their partner for life, and their marital spouse in sickness and in health is a full-blown addict either addicted to legal or illicit drugs , or alcohol . Sometimes, it can even be both.
It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. Friedrich Nietzsche, renowned German philosopher and essayist
In fact, an addicted spouse is one of the most common reasons cited in divorce papers, the cause of many marriages that end in failure and, ultimately, that end up floundering hopelessly in the divorce courts. Obviously, if children are involved as well, the whole emotional conundrum becomes even harder to solve, and, sadly, the prospect of actual treatment becomes more remote.
How To Cope With An Alcoholic Spouse
Coping with an alcoholic spouse is a dynamic processone that is more of a journey than a recipe. What helps you in one moment or scenario may be different from the next, so its important to have a variety of coping methods in your personal toolkit. Some things you can do to help yourself cope with the experience of having a spouse with an alcohol use disorder include:
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How To Help A Spouse With Drug Addiction Instead Of Enabling
If you believe that your spouse is addicted to drugs, you may be wondering what you should do next. You might even be nervous about whether you should even help or not. Addiction is a confusing, frustrating disease that impacts everyone regardless of if they are the ones using or not.
So, how to help your spouse with a drug addiction? There are several ways, but it is absolutely imperative that you are aware of the differences between helping your spouse and enabling your spouse. When you help your spouse, you are taking action in ways that encourage them to seek treatment and work on their recovery. When you are enabling your spouse, you are doing things that you may feel are helpful, but are instead more harmful. Here are some examples of enabling:
- Making excuses for your spouse when their drug addiction prevents them from being responsible
- Providing your spouse with money to purchase drugs
- Driving your spouse to obtain drugs or to hang out with other people who are going to do drugs
- Allowing your spouse to continue doing drugs in your home
While you may be trying to prevent your spouse from taking matters into their own hands , these types of behaviors only allow the drug addiction to become worse. But, as you learn how to help your spouse with drug addiction, you can implement specific strategies that foster positive outcomes.
Addiction In The Family
The pain of addiction is something that everyone within a family is familiar with. Quite often, people only think about how the addict is impacted. The truth is, the family suffers as well. There are all types of addictions, and each one stands to tear families apart. The cost of addiction has the power to ruin an otherwise beautiful home and marriage. To make matters worse, the effects of it are long lasting for everyone involved. It is so hard to live under the same roof as someone who is abusing substances. It seems as though problems are caused left and right. The addict is torn, wanting the stable life and the family at the same time. When things go wrong, they blame others for their own actions. There is no denying the type of pain youre in if this is the life youve been forced to lead. If you have an addicted spouse, you need answers for your dilemma. Whats more, you need real-life advice that you can put to use right now.
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Be Consistent With Boundaries
Setting boundaries is hard, but then you must also continue to enforce them. Alcoholics and drug addicts test boundaries. Substance abuse wires their brains to continue alcohol or drug abuse at any cost. If youre married to an addict, consistency is key. Be clear about what you wont tolerate and the consequences of their actions. When they cross your boundaries and they likely will enforce those consequences. If you let them get away with something once it sends a message that behavior is acceptable.
Is There Such A Thing As A Functioning Alcoholic
The term functioning alcohol is often used in American culture and society. But is there really such a thing as a functional alcoholic? Alcoholism is marked by alcohol dependence and deep-seated chronic brain disease. Addiction, in general, controls your life, and your schedule is centered on avoiding withdrawal symptoms and maintaining your addiction. Plus, it usually progresses as your tolerance grows. You need more alcohol and to drink more often to stave off painful and dangerous withdrawal. While some people maybe be earlier on in the process, alcoholism is a complex disease. Even if it doesnt seem debilitation now, it may become worse soon.
Plus, alcohol withdrawal can be potentially deadly. If your life is centered on having to find your next drink to maintain your addiction, what happens if you find yourself in a situation where you cant drink? Things like surgeries, medical procedures, and pregnancies are complicated by the presence of alcohol in your system. It can also be difficult to travel safely while under the influence. If you are put in a position in which you dont have access to alcohol, you can experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms like seizures and delirium.
Functional alcoholism may just be a distinction that points out that a person suffering from alcoholism is still in their early stages. However, there is no version of alcoholism that is safe and functional in the long term.
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