Supporting a Spouse through Addiction Recovery
When addiction enters a marriage it creates all kinds of problems that can destroy the marriage if the proper help isn’t sought. When a spouse is struggling with addiction, the other spouse may feel helpless and powerless to help their loved one. The most important thing a spouse can do to help their partner is to convince them that they must get professional help at a rehabilitation center. Supporting a spouse through addiction recovery, is not easy, but with the help of dedicated treatment professionals, it can be done.
Effects of Addiction
Addiction usually upsets the family dynamic in the home. Both spouses will react differently to the dysfunction as they try to cope with it. Sometimes a spouse will try to fix all the addict’s problems for them. One spouse may start to enable the other’s use of drugs or alcohol by doing everything for them. The spouse may house, feed, clothe and pay the bills for the addict just to keep them in the home and “safe’ from outside influences. This type of behavior enables the addict to focus solely on obtaining, using and recovering from drugs or alcohol. All responsibility and stress is placed on the partner who is trying to protect the addict. This type of situation will eventually implode on itself. The stress on the spouse will become overwhelming and eventually they may become angry, frustrated, disgusted and perhaps even physically sick from having to carry the heavy load of responsibility alone. Some spouses have a different attitude and behave differently. They will try to protect themselves from the addict and the addiction by alienating themselves. They will give as little attention as possible to the addict and will seek to find peace and pleasure on their own or with other people. This type of behavior does not help the addict either.
Getting Professional Help
Rehab centers are licensed by their State and must comply with the State laws regarding addiction and other accompanying illnesses. The staff usually consists of physicians, nurses, therapists, technicians and more who are experienced and knowledgeable in addiction and recovery. There are various treatment programs available to help an addict safely detox, rebuild their body, renew their mind and have the tools they need to live a substance free life. When a loved one enters a rehab center they are entering a safe environment that is drug and alcohol free. The staff is friendly and respectful and wants nothing more than to see an addict get well. Entering rehab is just the beginning of a life-long journey for the addict and their spouse, so it is important for the spouse to be informed about addiction recovery.
The couple will be treated individually and together in family counseling sessions. They will also attend therapy sessions and educational workshops, so that the spouse is ready to cope with any problem that may arise once the recovering addict leaves rehab and comes home. The couple will learn new skills to handle cravings, triggers, stress, negative emotions and other problems. Aftercare will include support group meetings and therapy sessions will continue long-term.
Some spouses will bounce back and forth from engagement to disengagement. In family therapy, the couple will learn about their unhealthy and damaging thoughts and behavior patterns. Once they have identified how they have been reacting to the problem of addiction they will be able to correct this behavior. The couple will learn to establish new and healthy thought and behavior patterns that will proactively address and help conquer the problem of addiction.
The early steps of recovery are the most challenging because dramatic life changes are being made. The recovering addict needs to focus on him or herself in order to maintain sobriety and rebuild their self-esteem, and other areas of their life that were damaged by addiction. It is a time when the recovering addict needs the support of their spouse. It is not a time for the spouse to feel neglected because the attention is not on them. It is a time for the spouse to encourage their partner and be a part of the recovery process. To help avoid relapse, the spouse should not be critical of the recovering addict. Together, the couple should create a relapse prevention plan. The lines of communication should remain open and both parties should speak honestly with each other. They should discuss their feelings, hopes, expectations, goals and anything else that they are concerned about.
The family dynamic will begin to change and there will be ups and downs. Be patient and kind, avoid blame, work toward forgiveness and encourage and praise each other. Spend time getting to know each other again and remain focused on building a new life together.
If your spouse is struggling with addiction, get them the help they need by contacting White Sands Treatment Center. Our addiction specialists can answer any questions you may have, and help you and your loved one find the treatment program that best fits your needs.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.