This is a guest post for those whose spouse is an addict. It covers how to help your loved one get into treatment, how to heal as a couple, and when leaving might be the best option.
Advice for Couples Affected by Addiction by Caleb Anderson
Whether you knowingly started a relationship with someone with a history of addiction or the addiction became an issue after the romance started, you probably will reach a point of wanting to help. You want your loved one to get treatment, and you want your relationship to get back on track after treatment. Avoiding a breakup or separation is your goal, but that’s not always attainable.
How to Help a Loved One Get Into Treatment
When someone you love is suffering or hurting, you instinctively want to help. If you have reason to believe someone you love is abusing drugs or alcohol, you want that person to get into treatment. But before you discuss treatment options with your loved one, learn about alcohol or drug abuse disorder in order to determine he or she really has an addiction.
Addiction is more than just drinking or using drugs too much from time to time. Using drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms or social habits may look like addiction, and it can lead to addiction, but the individual may not need rehabilitation treatment. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of addiction.
After your research, if you still believe your loved one needs treatment, approach him or her to say you care and that you’re available if he or she needs you. Only use positive and supportive statements. Avoid being negative, hurtful, or presumptuous. It’s helpful to practice what you’re going to say before approaching him or her.
Pick the appropriate place and time, listen with honesty and compassion, and reiterate your support. In case your loved one agrees to seek treatment, have a rehabilitation center’s information ready before your talk. If your loved one is still denying an addiction is present or is refusing treatment, you may need to stage an intervention.
How to Heal as a Couple
As Hitched notes, while most couples have good intentions to move forward in a positive way after one of them returns home from rehab, “the unresolved issues of trauma, injury, betrayal, fear of intimacy, and lack of social skills that have been masked by substance abuse steadily become unmasked by sobriety.” Just as the newly sober individual learns a road map to living a sober life while in rehab, the newly sober couple needs a road map for their marriage dynamic. Without developing a road map, the recovering addict could start abusing again or the couple could end up filing for divorce.
Developing and maintaining a healthy, positive living environment is a crucial part of promoting sobriety. Couples can attend counseling to learn techniques to work through past issues and how to move forward. They can also attend a support group, such as Recovering Couples Anonymous. Some couples even find that moving to a new home after rehab is a way to have a fresh start and a clean slate. Check out this guide to help find a healthy environment to live in after rehab to help focus on one’s recovery.
When Separation Might Be the Best Option
There’s not a definitive answer for when you should throw in the towel on a marriage and file for separation or divorce. That’s a very personal decision that varies by each couple and individual. However, just as the addict can hit rock bottom and decide that it’s time to change the course of his or her life, a family member or friend of an addict can hit bottom too.
Addiction can lead the addict to harm loved ones. The addict may lie or steal. He or she may also be unfaithful or physically or emotionally abuse loved ones. Unfortunately, significant others and children usually receive the worst of an addict’s negative behavior. If you feel that you’ve reached your breaking point, it may be necessary to seek a legal separation from your spouse, even he or she agrees to treatment.
If you feel that you can help influence him or her to receive treatment, do so with a well-planned approach. Also, don’t forget that you’ll need to work on how to function healthily as a couple after rehab. However, remember that your safety and mental well being are important. Don’t sacrifice them for the sake of your loved one’s addiction.
Caleb Anderson developed an opiate addiction after being in a car accident. He’s in recovery today and wants to inspire others to overcome their addictions.