How to Deal with Spouse with Drug Addiction

Learn how to live and deal with a spouse with addiction, how addiction can impact relationships, and what treatment options are available.

Living With a Spouse with Addiction

Dealing with an alcoholic spouse or a partner with substance use addiction can be challenging and emotionally draining. According to drug addiction divorce statistics, 7.3% of divorces are caused by substance abuse.

Substance use disorder such as addiction to alcohol destroys relationships. Still, this shouldn’t deter individuals from seeking help for their loved ones, but it is crucial to know the right point to move on.

Spouse with Addiction


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What's the Difference Between Helping a Partner Versus Enabling a Partner?

The difference between being a helping partner and enabling is critical when trying to support your spouse with addiction. Being a helping partner involves seeking care for a spouse through credible sources and offering as much support and love as possible during the recovery process.

Whereas enabling would involve inadvertently making matters worse through supporting substance use-seeking behavior by offering unregulated financial assistance, lying for them, not being assertive, and not setting much-needed ground rules. You need to learn how to do both if you are going to be able to aid your loved one in recovery.

How Substance Abuse Can Affect the Relationship

Irrespective of whether marriage to a spouse occurs before or after substance use addiction, the development of addiction will significantly affect any relationship. Living with an alcoholic husband or wife can be challenging, especially after a drinking episode. This could come in drinking abuse and lies and develop into something more serious. The following are ways that substance abuse can affect the relationship:

Verbal Abuse

There is always a high possibility that a spouse with addiction problems can be verbally abusive. This could include saying hurtful and damaging words, especially if substance abuse has made them paranoid or more sensitive than usual.

Sexual Abuse

This could occur when one partner feels that they are no longer in control of their addiction and consequently their own lives; sex may then be used as a means of control over their partner.

Physical Abuse

Individuals with substance abuse disorder can occasionally lash out in anger and are more likely to engage in violent behavior while under the influence. This can take the form of pushing, punching, slapping, or any other type of physical violence. Physical abuse can be especially traumatic for children who are exposed to it.

Financial Difficulties

Substance use addiction usually carries profound financial implications for the individuals involved. This frequently causes financial difficulties for themselves, then transferred to loved ones. Budgeting and managing finances can become stressful and overwhelming, especially when dealing with a partner with a drug addiction.

Legal Conflicts

In addition to financial difficulties, substance use disorders can also lead to legal conflicts, which may strain a partnership. Legal problems caused by substance use may include DUI charges, child custody issues, getting arrested repeatedly, etc.

Recognizing the Signs of Addiction

Recognizing the signs in a spouse with addiction can be tricky. Substance use addiction doesn’t change people overnight, so it’s easy to miss the signs as they come up. However, watching for a few common changes in behavior can help you identify a potential substance use problem.
Spouse with Addiction

Mood Swings

One of the most common warning signs of addiction in a spouse is extreme mood swings. If your spouse suddenly starts becoming irritable for no apparent reason or is frequently depressed, this could be a sign that something is wrong. Similarly, if your spouse seems to have a lot of ups and downs in a short time or if they are constantly feeling sad or angry, this may also indicate an issue with substance abuse.

Fluctuating Spending

Another warning sign includes changes in spending habits. For example, suppose a partner stops paying bills or starts incurring large debts without explanation. In that case, this could signal that they need help controlling their spending. But, again, paying close attention to how much money is being spent and where it’s going can help catch on to problems before they get out of hand and cause severe financial damage.

If your partner becomes addicted to lying, it could be a sign to watch out for. Drinking abuse and lies go hand in hand as the affected individual will often try to cover up their problem.

Warning Signs

Other things to look out for include the following:
  • Lack of honesty
  • Lack of self-care/grooming
  • Lack of interest in certain activities
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea

When to Leave an Addicted Spouse

It’s hard to know what to do when a spouse struggles with addiction, so it can be challenging to evaluate how much danger this behavior could impose on an entire family. It gets even more complicated with a spouse in denial, addicted to lying about having a substance use problem when the signs are unmistakable.

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Ultimately, though, some behaviors are too dangerous to ignore:
  • Threatening or using violence against you
  • Committing infidelity
  • Open drug use at home
  • Bringing strangers into the home
  • Demonstrating emotional abuse
It is not the easiest decision to make to leave an addicted spouse. However, in the presence of emotional abuse, while refusing treatment for substance use addiction, you need to decide if that is something you want present in your life and your children’s lives over the long term.

How to Handle an Addicted Spouse

Dealing with a spouse with addiction is never easy. One of the most challenging parts of this process is figuring out the best approach.

Partners must avoid any form of alienation without enabling substance use-seeking behavior. Below are some things you can do to deal with an addicted spouse or partner.

Ask for Help

There are many resources available with help for spouses of alcoholics, and it’s essential to get advice on how to approach your partner with drug addiction properly. Many loved ones of individuals with substance use disorders feel overwhelmed and frightened, so asking for help is a crucial first step.

Demonstrate Support

Support from the right people can go a long way in battling addiction. Try to be there for them as they begin their recovery process. Showing support will make the process less daunting and give your spouse the courage to keep going in tough times.

Take Care of Yourself

Personal wellbeing is paramount while taking care of your partner with drug addiction. The right level of care can only be given when a care provider isn’t weighed down by illness or exhaustion while supporting a spouse as they work on their recovery process. Take care of yourself, eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.

Learn About Addiction

One of the first things you should do is learn as much as you can about your spouse’s type of substance use addiction. This means learning about its impact on their body and mind. Dealing with an alcoholic spouse will involve learning how to notice specific triggers or bad habits and helping to block them out on time. Gaining the right knowledge can help recovering addicts and relationships.

Cultivate Patience

Taking a step towards recovery takes some time and maybe a lot more for others. Cultivating patience while actively guiding a spouse with a substance use disorder can go a long way in ensuring optimal recovery. This is especially important when an individual is still in denial about substance use abuse. Living with an alcoholic husband or wife is never easy. Be patient but assertive to know when to take harder steps or leave when no progress is made.

The DON'TS of Dealing with an Addicted Spouse

Although drug addiction divorce statistics show that substance use is a reason for some divorces, there are many ways to support a spouse struggling with addiction. Here are some things you should avoid doing when it comes to supporting your spouse in their recovery:

  • Lie for your spouse
  • Cover up their addiction
  • Avoid the issue
  • Use drugs or drink to keep them company
  • Blame or judge
  • Turn away from your spouse
  • Blame yourself
  • Expect things to return to what they were

Addiction is a challenge whether you are the one struggling with it or your loved one is. It is an illness, and it can place a significant strain on a marriage. However, treatment to overcome addiction is always possible.

Read on to learn how treatment centers such as Concise Recovery can help you or your spouse overcome addiction. 

Treatment Options Available at Concise Recovery

At Concise Recovery, we provide a comprehensive approach to treating addictions, recovering addicts, and relationships. We understand that the decision to seek treatment is often difficult, but we also know that it is life-changing.

Our substance use addiction treatment experts provide the support, guidance, and care necessary to help break free from the cycle of addiction and begin a new life. We also offer help in dealing with an alcoholic spouse, coping with spouse cocaine addiction, and addicts so they can deal with their addicted partners.

Treatment Opportunities

Our treatment programs are designed to meet individual needs. We offer support groups for spouses of addicts, alcoholic spouse support groups, management to help with addiction and marriage, counseling for drug addiction and relationships, and advice for people living with an alcoholic spouse. We consider medical history, current medications, co-occurring disorders, personal goals, etc. This ensures that we dispense treatment tailored to meet each individual’s specific needs.

Inpatient Treatment

With inpatient treatment, the individual moves into a facility where they receive care, supervision, and counseling around the clock. This is the best option for people struggling with addiction or who had attempted to quit before and failed. It also works well for individuals who do not have a stable home environment to return to.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is often recommended for people who have been sober for a while but need ongoing support to maintain that sobriety. In this program, individuals can get help managing any triggers or relapse thoughts by attending counseling sessions or participating in 12-Step meetings on an ongoing basis. This step is highly beneficial to couples in addiction recovery and individuals living with an alcoholic spouse.

Detox Treatment

If you’re looking for an option that allows your spouse to stay at home while recovering from their drug addiction, detox treatment could be proper for you. Detox for couples in addiction recovery helps remove the substance of interest from the affected spouse’s system to start the process toward substance use addiction recovery. Proper detoxification can offer help to spouses of alcoholics and manage any withdrawal symptoms.

Reach out Today

For more information on how to seek care for yourself or a loved one, please reach out to us at Concise Recovery today.