Millions of people around the world suffer from addiction of some kind; whether it is drugs or alcohol, food or otherwise, addiction goes beyond the person abusing substances, and it impacts entire families. When you have an addict in your life, especially when you are married to them, there are a number of things you should and shouldn’t do, in order to help yourself and your spouse while they try to manage their addiction. An important thing to remember about addiction is that it can be hard for someone even to realize they have a drinking or drug problem, so before you do anything, recognize that you might not be able to do much more than support them from the sidelines. People have to want to get help. Here are some common do’s and don’ts of being married to an addict.
Do try to keep your own head on straight. The stress and anxiety of living with an addict can add up quickly. You need to make sure you are taking care of yourself so that you can continue to help your loved one.
Don’t expect your spouse just to quit, even if you ask them to. People can take years to come around to the idea that they have an addiction, and it can take many more years for them to seek the help they need…if they ever do at all.
Do offer to help by finding professional help for your spouse. Offer to be present and support them along the way.
Don’t opt for a short rehabilitation program. Studies show that rehab programs of 90 days or longer have the greatest chance of success and long-term staying power. A quick-fix is not what is needed right now.
Do everything you can to stay with your spouse and continue remain in the relationship. If you decide you want to stay married, seeking professional counseling might be a good option for the both of you. Or, you can seek counseling on your own to work through your feelings about the addiction.
Don’t put up with abuse of any kind. If you’ve made the decision to stay in the relationship, it should be because the relationship is safe and you aren’t threatened. If you are being abused, you might consider leaving.
Do seek the help of a professional interventionist if you feel like you can’t approach your spouse on your own. It is also helpful to get professional help to intervene if you have tried to intervene on your own and haven’t been successful.
Don’t expect your spouse to change overnight, even with the help of a rehab program. It takes time and a lot of work on the part of the addict to get on board with making this big change in their lives. It is overwhelming and scary for many people, and depending on the type of addiction, the rehab can be physically painful.
Above all else, be patient with yourself and your spouse. If they have agreed to rehabilitation, it is the first step in a long road to recovery. Being supportive, getting the help you both need, and working toward a solution are some of the best ways to deal with addiction in a marriage.