Addiction in the Family
When asked, many spouses are completely surprised when told their partner is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Many don’t want to see it and ignore it. Others miss the warning signs until it’s too late, and their partner has been arrested trying to buy drugs off the street. Drugs and alcohol have a terrible effect on everyone, not just the person using. One of the people hardest hit by addiction is their spouse, leaving them to wonder if they can still be married.
Warning signs- being married to a drug addict
First, let’s take a look at some basic warning signs that a loved one may have a serious problem with drugs or alcohol. These are some general signs of addiction, and there may be ones that are more specific to you or your loved one. In the end, learn to trust your instincts, if you have a bad feeling about something, there’s usually a reason.
Some things that might be seen if a spouse is using drugs secretly include:
- Missing money, being short for bills
- Confusion, forgetting things, not being able to keep focus
- Having no energy or a lot more energy than normal
- Catching them in lies, especially ones where they don’t seem to have a reason to lie
- Isolating themselves
- Withdrawing from social activities, including work or school
- Strange or unexplained physical health problems.
- Acting out of the norm, unpredictable or reckless.
Drugs and loved ones
A person in the throes of addiction doesn’t often think about anyone else but their next high. It’s not because they are selfish or immoral. They are addicted, and their bodies are telling them they need this drug, or it’s going to hurt. Addiction, however, has a severe impact on the spouse and other family members as well.
Being married to a drug addict can be like being in a marriage with no one. They most frequently will begin to withdraw from family activities and marriage life. Often they will not even want sex or companionship anymore, and it’s just about the next high. That is one of the hallmarks of drug addiction, they seem to disappear, even though they are in the same house, and even when the physically with you, they are not able to be an active part of your family’s life.
The strain will be there on the spouse as well. As the addicted person becomes more withdrawn and erratic, the emotional toll comes for their spouse. They begin to worry, stress, be angry, be sad, and become resigned to the fact that their spouse is gone. Eventually, they begin to live life without them, even though they are sometimes in bed next to them.
Another aspect of being married to a drug addict is the one most likely to cause friction and divorce: finances. A person with a drug addiction might be spending a lot of money on this compulsion. They have little choice without help and support. Finances will suffer, and bills will be unpaid. That stress can be devastating to couples and can put families at risk of homelessness, food instability, and having to go without other essentials due to drug addiction.
Is this the end of the marriage?
Many people will be wondering right now, is this the end of my marriage? They sometimes can’t see how a marriage can overcome something like an addiction. The answer is that it depends on what you want to do.
A person with an addiction is someone with a medical condition that needs support and treatment, like someone with diabetes. It is manageable, and thousands come back from treatment centres clean and sober every day. Recovery is possible, and it can be done, but it does take daily work, at least in the beginning. It requires a lot of change. It also may mean confronting difficult things about your spouse’s behaviour.
Learn About Addiction
It’s important to fully understand the disease concept of addiction because then you can step away from the “shame and blame game”, where you resent your spouse for some supposed moral weakness or, alternatively, shoulder the blame and responsibility yourself.
When you treat addiction as a medical illness, you understand that it is no one’s fault. Instead of focusing on the afflicted person, you can begin to focus on the disease and on strategies for successful management.
In the end, the person to decide if your marriage is over is you or your spouse. You have to determine what is ok, and what is not ok, what you are willing and able to do and forgive, after treatment. Marriage is not entirely over until one person says it is.
How to Stage an Intervention
There are two people in this relationship, and both person’s needs must be addressed here. First, getting a person with an addiction help can seem overwhelming. One of the hardest steps is the first step. Talk with them about what you are seeing, and what you believe to be happening, or contact a specialist to hold an intervention. Drug addiction may be something that people don’t want to admit to, but they need to begin there to get the help they need.
Line up Treatment Resources
Have rehab specialist’ contact numbers ready to call after the talk. While it may not feel the best, it may be necessary to have consequences thought up if they do not wish to seek help. These will be what you feel most appropriate and that you can do, but it could be like limiting money they have access to or asking them to leave the house if they refuse. The end goal should almost always be seeking drug or alcohol rehab treatment.
Tips for being married to a drug addict
The other person that needs help is you, their spouse. Drug abuse has been shown time and again to have adverse effects on everyone in the family. There will probably be a lot of emotional conflicts, bad behaviour, and pain that your spouse has left you with. It’s time you dealt with that, and help yourself in the process. Recovery is about the person and the family getting healthy. Seeking out your therapist or recovery support group can be most beneficial. You need help too, and it’s time you got it.
Drug addiction can be deadly to a person, but it can also be harmful in its way to marriage and family. It can leave couples estranged or divorced, and families are broken. Seeking drug treatment will be the best way to prevent this from happening. A marriage does not have to end due to drug addiction, but it happens more often without treatment. If you or your loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, please reach out for help immediately.
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