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How To Help A Spouse Struggling With Addiction

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When you see your spouse struggling with addiction, it is understandable that you want to help them. However, what might seem helpful at the time is not always beneficial for them. Therefore, you must fully understand how to help a spouse struggling with addiction, in order to help them realize that they need help. After this has been accomplished, they can take the first steps to recovery.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a medical disorder where someone has an intense urge to continue negative behaviors without regard for the consequences of their actions. While alcohol and drug addictions are more widely known, people can also be addicted to gambling, shopping, pornography, video games, and electronic devices.

Signs Of Addiction In A Spouse

There are several warning signs you need to be aware of that could indicate an addiction in your spouse, including:

  • Noticeable changes in their appetite, sleep patterns, or mood.
  • Ignoring their family commitments, job, and financial responsibilities.
  • Staying out later than usual or not returning home for several days.
  • Downplaying or denying they have an addiction.
  • Getting into legal problems, like being arrested for drug possession or being charged with a DUI.
  • Blaming you for the reason they drink, use drugs, or engage in other addictive behaviors.
  • Noticing bank accounts are being overdrawn frequently. 
  • Engaging in risky behaviors or making impulsive decisions they usually would not make.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Attempting to hide their addiction after you express concern. 
  • Trying to get you to drink and use drugs with them. 
  • Noticing they are drinking more or using large amounts of drugs. 
  • Refusing to admit they have a problem.
  • Continuing to engage in the addictive behavior regardless of the consequences.
  • Noticeable changes in a lack of personal hygiene.

Helping Vs. Enabling

There is a difference between wanting to help your spouse with their addiction and enabling it. Unfortunately, many people do not realize they are enabling until they start educating themselves about addiction and what they can do to help. 

What Is Enabling?

In general, enabling is engaging in any behavior that does not hold your spouse accountable for their addiction. For example, you might call their employer and say they are sick when they can’t go to work. You could take on responsibilities they used to do. You may give them money to support their addiction. 

What Is Helping?

Helping means you offer support while holding your spouse accountable for the consequences of their addiction. For instance, you stop making excuses for them when they cannot take care of their responsibilities.

How To Help A Spouse Struggling With Addiction

  • Educate yourself about the disease of addiction.
  • Join a support group for family members of addicts.
  • Hold them accountable.
  • Don’t make excuses for them.
  • Let them face the consequences.
  • Eliminate alcohol and drugs from home.
  • Establish clear boundaries.
  • Don’t put your life on hold.
  • Take care of yourself and put your needs first.
  • Stage an intervention with help from an interventionist.

The Importance Of Support In Recovery

Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family, not just the addict. When you can support your spouse during recovery, they are more likely to maintain long-term sobriety successfully. Your participation from the moment they start an addiction treatment program can help you and your spouse mend your relationship and the damage it caused due to their addiction. 

How To Support A Spouse In Detox

The most important thing you can do to support your spouse in detox is to let them work their treatment program. Even though they will be away from home while undergoing detox, do not hold it against them. 

While they are in detox is a good time to address any personal issues and concerns you have through individual counseling. By taking care of your mental health and emotional needs, you will be in a better place to provide the support they need once they are done with detox.

What Follows The Detox Process

After detox, it is essential your spouse enter an addiction treatment program. Detox does not address the psychological and underlying causes of the addiction. It merely removes the substances from the body, so it can start to heal. 

While your spouse is in treatment, this is the perfect time to participate in their recovery with couples’ and family therapy programs. These programs are designed to provide you the opportunity to address any issues and concerns you have while rebuilding trust. 

Once they return home, avoid feeling jealous when they are going to meetings, continuing their aftercare treatment, or talking to their sponsor. Instead, let your spouse make new sober friends who can provide additional support. 

Lastly, remember to have patience. Recovery is an ongoing process that can take time. Do not get frustrated with your spouse if they are not progressing as fast as you think they should. As long as they are working on their program and maintaining their sobriety, you should be proud of their progress. 

Get Help In Orange County, CA

At Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County, CA, we understand addiction is a disease that impacts you and your spouse. We also understand it can be challenging to sit idly by and watch them sink further into addiction. 

Let us help you learn how you can help your spouse struggling with addiction. On top of this, we can help to avoid enabling behaviors. Once your spouse is ready to begin addiction treatment, our programs provide an enriching experience for you both in a caring, supportive, and nurturing environment. 
Take the first steps to helping yourself and your addicted spouse by contacting us today!

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