“Addiction is a family disease. One person may use, but the whole family suffers.”-Unknown
At any given moment, there are around 12.5 million spouses who suffer because the people they love the most are addicted to drugs. A drug addiction has the power to destroy any relationship but it is even more powerful in the destruction of a marriage. In fact, statistics show that 7.3% of all divorces are caused by substance abuse. That is a scary statistic.
Nothing breaks down trust and communication more in a marriage than the presence of a drug addiction. Most of the time, one spouse becomes the enabler as a way to keep the peace; that is, until keeping the peace is no longer an option and the marriage ends. There are eight different ways you can help your spouse if he or she is addicted to drugs but you should still focus on helping yourself cope with the addiction in the process.
Learn As Much As You Can About Addiction
Addiction is a disease, much like cancer or diabetes. The more you can learn about it, the more benefits you’ll see in your marriage. Think of addiction the same way you would diabetes. If one of your children became diabetic, you would learn as much as you could about the food he should eat and what to avoid. Learning about addiction will give you insight into what your spouse deals with on a regular basis.
Have An Honest, Calm Conversation
Choose a time when your spouse is not using to have an honest, calm conversation about the addiction. Avoid being judgmental or accusing. Remain calm, and don’t try to make a plan to deal with the problem. Focus your efforts on being heard regarding how you feel. Keep your conversation focused on yourself and how the addiction is affecting you and possibly your children. Even though you may be met with resistance, encourage your spouse to hear you out and let him or her know that it took a lot of courage for you to say anything at all.
Reach Out For Help To The People You Trust
Coping with a spouse who suffers from an addiction can be incredibly lonely if you don’t rely on the support of others. Talk with the people you trust about what you’re going through. Ask for help when needed, regardless of what type of help you need. Perhaps it would lighten your load to have someone pick your children up from school a few days a week. Maybe you need to ask a trusted friend for a weekly coffee date so you can talk about how you feel. Venting is probably the best way to lessen the emotional toll something like this might have on your life.
Rely On Your Inner Strength To Get Through Each Day
Sometimes it isn’t enough to just rely on other people to help you. You need inner strength to make it through the times when no one else is around. Perhaps you pray to God, or you depend on another Higher Power. Develop a habit of prayer and meditation to build up your inner strength. Finding something to believe in is crucial in this process.
Don’t Forget To Care For Your Own Needs
Sometimes we get so busy taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves. Your needs are important too, so find what it is that you need and treat yourself once in awhile. Maybe you’d like to be able to go out with a friend once a month and do something special together. Maybe all you need is a long hot bath with a good book to get your stress under control. Regardless of what you need, don't be afraid to treat yourself.
Talk With Your Spouse About The Kind Of Support He Or She Needs
Your spouse might be expecting a certain type of support from you. Have a conversation in which you focus on your spouse to find out how you can best offer your support. Perhaps you can help him/her find Narcotics Anonymous meetings in the area. Let your spouse know that you are there, and willing to help in any way that you can.
Set Clear Boundaries For Your Spouse
Your spouse may view you as a partner in his or her addiction even though it shouldn't be that way. However, you have the power to change this situation. Set clear boundaries for your spouse and let him or her know that you will not be enabling them. Your spouse has the choice to either get help or continue their downward spiral alone. Addiction is a very lonely journey. If you let your spouse know that you will ONLY support them in their recovery, they might take their treatment much more seriously.
Don’t Forget To Work On Forgiveness
Forgiving the person you love is important to your own sense of well-being. However, forgiveness does not mean that your spouse’s addiction is OK. Forgiveness allows you to be calm and supportive as you go through these difficult times. If you don't forgive your spouse they may never forgive themselves. This is why you should accept their mistakes and attempt to move on.
While it’s true that addiction is a disease that the entire family suffers from, you don’t have to allow your spouse’s addiction to take control of your life. Take a stand and let your spouse know that enough is enough. The road to sobriety is hard, yet not impossible. If you follow the steps I mentioned above, your chances of success should go up quite drastically. At the end of the day, it's all about supporting your loved ones and beating the horrible disease that we call addiction.