Married to an addict? Don’t be a bystander to the wrath of substance abuse

By sylviasmith 07/11/18
substance abuse.jpg

You've tried everything: crying, yelling, nurturing, and even bribing. You're married to an addict and you're at the end of your rope trying to fix them. Don't give up hope.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 20 million Americans struggle with addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Perhaps you weren't aware of your spouse's addiction or didn't know the intensity of their disease when you first got married. But now that you're the spouse of someone struggling with substance abuse, you want things to change.

Don’t be discouraged. If your spouse accepts help through NA, AA, or through marriage counseling, you can get through this troubling time and restore your marriage bond.

Signs You’re in Love with an Addict

You may picture an alcoholic as a screaming, disorderly spouse riddled with financial trouble. You might imagine they are constantly intoxicated or can't hold a job. But the truth is, addicts can hide in plain sight.
"My spouse goes to work every day and doesn't start drinking until the evenings. That's normal, isn't it?" You may have asked yourself this very question.

If you're a victim of domestic violence at the hands of an addict, you already know there is a huge problem in your relationship. Yet, some addicts have subtler tells that may leave their spouse's wondering what they're really dealing with. Here are the most common signs that you are married to an addict.

They abuse verbally, specifically when they are under the influence
They are frequently agitated or easily bothered
They perpetrate domestic violence when under the influence
They drink specifically to get drunk
They drink alone
They perpetrate sexual abuse
They have blackouts
They lower your self-esteem
They have poor communication skills
They make you feel underappreciated and used

What to do When You're Married to an Addict

Stop Blaming Yourself

Your spouse may try and blame you for their addiction, saying they were never like this until they met you. This is a common lie told by alcoholics to try and control their spouse or hurt their feelings.
Your partner's addiction has nothing to do with you. Likely this is a behavior that stems from family genes, a triggering or traumatic event from their past, or a mental disorder. They will continue to drink or do drugs regardless of how loving, understanding, or harsh you may be with them.

Get Informed about Addiction

One of the most important pieces of marriage advice when dealing with domestic violence or addiction is to get informed. For example, addiction may not be apparent at the beginning of your relationship.
Read about addiction and other spouse's experiences with their partners. See what methods worked to save their marriage. Understand all you can about this disease and what you can do to remedy the situation, if anything.

It is also important to get informed about what is considered a dangerous living situation. If there is domestic violence in your relationship( ), it is in the best interest of you and any children you may have to remove yourself from that hostile situation.

Don't Submit to Denial

There is a stigma that surrounds addiction, even if you are the spouse of an addict. This stigma may cause you to be in denial about what is really going on in your marriage. When you begin to doubt yourself, remember this solid marriage counseling advice: you can't change what you don't acknowledge.

In order for anything to change for the better in your marriage, you have to admit what the real problems in your relationship are.

Find a Support Group

One piece of marriage advice you should follow is to find a support group. You should not have to go through your suffering alone. Find a forum online for support or visit a local group.
(You can look up support groups privately by using In Private Browsing. Access this by hitting CTRL+SHIFT+N on your keyboard when your browser is open. This will prevent your spouse from finding your searches in the history tab.)

Organizations like Al Anon are designed for family and friends of addicts who can come together and talk about their addicted loved ones. You can learn from others experiences and help support each other during this time.

If you are suffering from domestic violence in your marriage, call 1−800−799−7233 or text 1−800−787−3224 and get help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can also visit their website for live chat services, available 24/7 in more than 170 different languages.

Attend Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling can be a great start for troubled couples. Your spouse may not be open to attending rehab or AA groups, but they may keep an open mind about working on your marriage through counseling.
This is beneficial on many levels for both you and your spouse. Counseling will help you both work on communicating. You will both be encouraging to speak openly and honestly to one another and to listen to what your spouse has to say.

This can clear up any misunderstandings you are having. It will also let your spouse see exactly how their behavior is hurting you.

Your marriage counselor, when seen by yourself, can also help suggest ways you can avoid enabling your addicted spouse and get back to creating healthy communication and love in your marriage. It may also be cathartic to be able to talk to someone about the addiction or abuse that is going on in your home.

When seen solo, your counselor may also be able to suggest safe ways to separate from your spouse if you are in a dangerous situation.

On a more positive note, a marriage counseling session may also break through the barriers your spouse is putting up and can encourage them to attend rehab and conquer their addiction.

Do not deal with a dangerous or domestic violence situation alone. There is never any excuse for being treated poorly in your marriage. If your spouse is struggling with an addiction, seek help from marriage counseling and agencies such as Narcotic Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.

Join the conversation, become a Fix blogger. Share your experience, strength, and hope, or sound off on the issues affecting the addiction/recovery community. Create your account and start writing: