With more than 20 million Americans currently battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is no surprise to learn that about 12 million spouses are in a relationship with an addicted person. This trial takes a toll on any marriage and often leaves the sober partner picking up the slack.
Problems in the Marriage
Addiction gets worse over time because it is a progressive disease. That means that the communication issues, legal trouble, financial strain, cheating, lying and mood swings do not become better over time; just worse. You might face episodes of violence or aggression from your partner and the inability to rely on financial help. The addict might lose their job, get arrested for driving under the influence or stay out late night after night.
On top of all that, they become masters at manipulation and will often shift the blame onto you. This can lead to feelings of shame and guilt as you attempt to make sense of what is going on.
Being married to an addict doesn’t mean you have to go down with the ship. There’s no sense waiting for your spouse to hit rock bottom before you seek help. Right now is the time you need to quit enabling their behavior and let them walk this path alone.
Yes, it’s simple to offer up excuses and live in denial that there isn’t a problem. This only continues to feed the addiction. Instead, it’s time to take a stand and stop participating in self-destructive behaviors.
Where to Begin?
You should start by talking to your spouse and sharing your feelings. Do this when they are sober and calm. If they aren’t going to have a discussion with you or if they prefer to make more excuses, then it might be time to consider having an intervention.
The purpose of an intervention is to have your spouse agree that it’s time to enter treatment. This will put them on the path to recovery. With almost 15,000 drug addiction treatment centers in the country, there are plenty to choose from. Not only can a treatment center offer help to the addict, but many of them also give spouses the hope, support and tools they need to live a happy life.
Staging an Intervention
A planned and organized meeting between the addict and their loved ones is an intervention. This can include the attendance of family members, neighbors, coworkers or anyone else that’s been affected by the addict’s behavior. Most often, the meeting is planned without the addict’s knowledge.
Members of the meeting will write a heartfelt letter to be read aloud at the intervention. The content of the letter should focus on the usage and how it affects life. It’s imperative that specific instances are cited throughout the letter. Some examples of this are the times that the spouse didn’t come to a child’s school event because they were high or how they stole the last ten dollars from your wallet.
All people attending the intervention should be prepared to be assertive. While remaining respectful at all times, it will be critical that you put your foot down and refuse to take no for an answer. There need to be clear, outlined consequences for your spouse if they refuse to get treatment.
Some examples could include:
- No longer being able to see the children
- Refusing to give any more money to the spouse
- Kicking them out of the home
- Not giving them rides anymore
Prior to the intervention, you’ll want to research the available treatment options so you can offer the choices to the addict. By the time the meeting ends, hopefully he or she is ready to enter into a treatment program. If they aren’t, you must be prepared to follow through with the consequences.
If you are unsure how to set up an intervention, it is okay to seek the help of a professional to aid you. An interventionist can offer encouragement, guidance, support and education to make the process a little smoother.
Take Care of You
If you are the spouse of an addict, then you know that the focus tends to be on them all the time. This leaves you feeling alone and unimportant. You’ve spent all your time caring for them and being there for their needs. In the process, you’ve neglected yourself.
You don’t need to continue the enabling process in order to feel self-worth. It’s time to stand your ground and resist any enabling behavior. When you stick to your laid-out consequences, you are taking care of yourself.
Refuse to be sucked back into the addict’s spiral of destruction any longer. It may take time to adjust to your new way of life, but its well worth the effort.
Just like any spouse of an addict, you must re-educate yourself on codependency and work on creating healthy ways to deal with your stress. Even if you get the addict to attend treatment, you are going to have your own recovery to deal with. Thankfully, there are many ways to start taking care of you.
Steps to Taking Care of Yourself
Here are some tips that will get you started on your own road to recovery:
- Reach out for support and help because you are not alone.
- Attend Al-Anon meetings for additional support.
- Go to family therapy sessions with your partner. Become an active participant in their recovery and treatment plan.
- Get educated on the addiction disease and how it operates.
- Attend your own personal therapy sessions with a counselor so you can learn new ways of dealing with stress and trials in your life.
- Join in relaxation activities. This can include yoga, meditation, massage therapy or anything that allows you to unwind in a healthy manner.
- Participate in a new hobby as a way to stay busy and relieve
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
- Eat nutritious, balanced meals.
- Care for your family above the addict’s desires.
- Keep up with the family routine and incorporate together time even if your spouse doesn’t join in.
- Have a healthy social life to fight back against isolation.
Your health and well-being are just as important as anyone else’s. That’s why it is important to take the time you need to care for yourself. When you have good health and a clear mind, you are in a better position to care for those around you.
Loving an addict doesn’t mean that you sit around and be their punching bag. It is time to stand up for yourself and take charge of your future. Encourage your loved one to get the help that they need, but be willing to go about a healthier life without their recovery. You are valuable and important, so take the time you need to care for you.
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or someone you know and love is currently struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, we can help.
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing effective treatment solutions to the suffering individual, while offering support and educational services to the affected family unit.
If you are tired of living a life as a slave to your addiction, please contact our Admission Specialists today. Let us show you what a life of recovery really looks like.