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My spouse is an addict: How To Help

Written by Seth Fletcher on March 19, 2015
Last update: May 14, 2024

When you hear yourself thinking "my spouse is an addict", you are overwhelmed with emotion. Just that thought is unnerving! If you suspect your loving husband or loving wife may have an addiction problem, you are probably wondering what you should be doing to help him or her. This is a tough problem, but one that must be addressed sooner rather than later.

My Spouse Is An Addict: What Can I Do To Help

The first step to helping your spouse with addiction is to educate yourself. Addiction is a disease that affects millions of people from all walks of life. Addiction does not discriminate it simply affects everyone. It can be tempting to wonder why your spouse doesn’t “just stop.” But it isn’t that simple. Recovery from addiction is possible, but rarely does willpower alone do the job.

It is very important to remember that it is nothing you did. Do not blame yourself or try to take responsibility for your spouse’s problem.

Get Support

You may not want to confide your spouse’s problem to friends or family members, but you should not suffer in silence. It is important that you get support.Do not go it alone. Groups like Al-Anon can be incredibly helpful. Learn about Co-dependence and the role it plays in relationships. Many times, loved ones unknowingly enable others in their addiction. Key word here is: unknowingly.

Addiction can bring with it a whole host of problems. Your spouse may be spending a lot of money on drugs or alcohol, may be engaging in unsafe behaviours and may even be violent. While you can’t blame your spouse (or your self) for his or her addiction, it does not mean that you have to put up with unsafe behaviours.

You must take care of yourself. In some cases, you may need to put your foot down, temporarily leave the relationship or get the authorities involved. These actions may actually speed up the process of recovery.

Addressing Your Spouse’s Addiction

This can be rough, and you should proceed with caution. Your spouse may be in denial about his or her problem. Choose a time to broach the subject. Ideally children should not be present and you should not choose a stressful time.

Wait for a good time; you know your spouse's good times. Sure they may be under the influence, but you can catch a pattern of good times. Say, right when they wake up, or after they had their breakfast and before they sit down to watch TV, etc.

Let your spouse know what your concerns are in a non-accusatory way. Start by talking softly, with love and acknowledging some recent tough moments but be immensely supportive and understanding of it. If your spouse feels attacked, they will shut down or fight back. Do not make threats or ultimatums and definitely do not raise your voice.

It may be helpful to write down a list of things you want to say beforehand. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Sometimes it can take a while for a person to accept and acknowledge that they have a problem. So be prepared for nothing coming out of it.

In the end, you must realize that you have no control over your spouse’s addiction. They must come to their own conclusion and make the choice to get help.

You can do your part by being understanding and taking care of your own needs and safety. Helping your husband or wife with addiction can only go so far.

If It Doesn't Go Well, What Help Can I Get

There's always a major chance these first talks don't go well. Addicts put up their wall of defence and shut you out and you will end up feeling as though you caused more harm than good. Don't be hard on yourself.

But as a partner it is only natural to not want to give up. This is when you can entertain the idea of bringing in a professional. Interventions, like they show on TV, are usually done by family members and close friends. But some times, these interventions don't do a good job. Under pressure, the addict can say anything to get out because they feel cornered.

For times like this, it's better to have a professional interventionist on your side. There are plenty. Your family doctor might know one. We at the Canadian Centre for Addictions also do interventions. An interventionist will lead the conversation towards a safe and peaceful resolution so things don't get out of hand. No matter what: alcohol abuse or alcoholism, drug abuse, cocaine, heroin -> an intervention can help. To find out more, make sure to check out our guide on how to do an intervention.

What Do I Do If It Goes Well: Call Us And We’ll Help You Get Free ->>

Addiction recovery for the long term cannot be done with a conversation or an intervention. Sure, they can set a clear path forward but it doesn't treat the person. If that worked, the world would be clean and sober.

At the Canadian Centre For Addictions, we understand the challenges that come from alcohol abuse or drug abuse. We have seen many times how it destroys perfectly healthy and normal families. But know that with our private programs that are tailored per individual, we have a very high success rate when it comes to bringing people to sobriety.

Public or government rehabs have various types of people with many major mental health issues and other disorders with addiction somewhere in there. This is why such rehabs follow a set "program". This set program does not look at the past or background of an individual and try to get at the root of such problems. This is why, unfortunately, the success rate isn't the best. And there are relapses.

If that wasn't too late, people then end up at our private rehab because we do things much more intensively with the tailored, made-for-you programs. And they wonder why they didn't come to our rehab the first time around.

We work with you to help you develop positive habits and a healthy lifestyle. This not only fixes you up, but also keeps you away from relapses as much as possible.

Certified Addiction Counsellor

Seth brings many years of professional experience working the front lines of addiction in both the government and privatized sectors.

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