Romantic Relationships and Drug Addiction
Addicts struggle with a broad range of issues directly and indirectly connected to their specific dependencies. When someone with an addiction is in a romantic relationship, their partner will often struggle as well. An estimated 24 million Americans are part of marriages where drug addiction is a problem. It is a relatively common situation with no easy solutions.
While someone actively addicted to drugs can have some difficulties to overcome, even recovering addicts may find it difficult. There’s usually an underlying reason for the drug or alcohol use, and this problem may continue long into recovery.
In addition, maintaining a relationship requires quite a bit of focus on the other person, and this can be difficult when every day is a struggle to stay away from drugs or alcohol. Being aware of this possibility can help you tackle the problem.
Many relationships collapse, even after the person dealing with addiction has gone into recovery. It’s estimated that abuse is the main factor that leads to divorce and the end of relationships in general, while infidelity is the second, and drug addiction is the third.
To make matters worse, in relationships where drug addiction is a problem, infidelity and different forms of abuse are also more likely to occur. Even when the patients who struggle with drug addiction are committed to the overall recovery process, it’s a complicated set of circumstances for everyone involved.
Getting help is key to overcoming these challenges. You need to be sure your spouse is getting the aid they need. At Cardinal Recovery, we can help both you and your spouse in the process of addiction recovery. Contact us today to learn more.
What Are Common Sources of Conflict Between Addicts and Partners?
The drugs themselves can obviously cause a variety of problems on their own in all relationships. However, drug addiction can so profoundly impact a person’s life that it can simultaneously lead to several relationship problems.
- Emotional Extremes: Drug addicts can be prone to substantial emotional fluctuations at every stage of the drug addiction recovery process. Even when they feel more stable, it is common for patients to become depressed, exhausted, and frustrated with their situation. Their partners will be affected to some extent.
- Legal Troubles: Drug-addicted patients might use drugs illegally or perform other illegal actions when they are using drugs. Some of their drug-seeking behaviors could also be banned or legally questionable. Child custody situations can become complicated when at least one parent suffers from drug addiction problems.
- When marriages and relationships involving drug addicts end, the divorce process can also become more complex. You may find yourself in one challenging legal situation after another when your spouse has an addiction.
- Secondary Mental Illnesses: Many individuals develop problems with drugs to cope with other mental health issues. It’s a form of self-medication. Even when the drugs themselves become issues on their own, the original mental illnesses can still be present. People suffering from a substance use problem may need therapy for more than one issue in order to fully recover.
- Financial Problems: People with addictions frequently have a difficult time earning money. Their careers might suffer, or they may never truly start careers of their own. They might be financially dependent on their spouses or become that way.
- Drugs themselves are expensive, and so are the treatments and therapies that addicts need during the recovery process. Drug addictions are costly to maintain and end, and the financial difficulties will likely continue even after the addict recovers. If they’ve gone into debt over the years due to addiction, this will need to be dealt with.
- Deception: If you’ve been lied to about substance use, you may have some serious trust issues with your spouse. Lying is very common among those dealing with alcoholism or drug addiction, but it can ruin the trust that is so necessary in a relationship.
- Abuse: Domestic violence is more common in relationships where at least one partner has a problem with drug addiction. It is estimated that substance use is involved in between 40 and 60 percent of domestic violence incidents.
These are all issues that may cause problems between yourself and your spouse. Therapy can help you work through many of them, but in the end, the best results are obtained via recovery from addiction. It takes time to recover from the addiction and the aftermath of addictive behavior.
If the relationship issues are not dealt with, you can expect ongoing conflicts in your marriage. Just because your spouse is in recovery does not mean they are automatically better in all areas. You will both benefit from plenty of communication and couples therapy or another method of dealing with these problems.
Remember that ongoing conflict can spark a relapse, so it’s essential to resolve the problems that keep cropping up. While your spouse may be in recovery, that doesn’t eliminate all issues, nor does it negate the betrayals that occurred during the addiction.
Healthy and Unhealthy Forms of Emotional Support
Partners and spouses of addicts will obviously want to help their loved ones recover from a substance use problem. However, watching someone go through this process is emotionally challenging. Even if your spouse is trying to minimize their addiction’s impact on your family, it is still hard. Many patients do not make that sort of effort.
Some partners and spouses will not care for themselves properly because they focus so heavily on their partners’ addictions. Their partners also might become too dependent on them. You may feel unwilling to hold your partner with an addiction accountable for their actions and behaviors. This will only increase the burden that they feel and make the underlying situation worse.
Addicts are much more likely to get better if they have empathetic and supportive partners and spouses. Their partners have to make sure that they are not hurting themselves in the process, however. Most importantly, drug addicts absolutely need professional help in order to recover, and their partners cannot help them through this process independently. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available today for both addicts and their partners.
Remember that you need to look after yourself first. If you are struggling and empty, you will have nothing left to give your partner. It’s hard to stay strong, particularly when your spouse seems to be much better after the initial detox period and wants to go home. Being strong in yourself can help them complete their recovery period. It’s a good idea to seek therapy for yourself, as well as for your spouse.
How You Can Support Your Addicted Spouse
As the spouse of an addict, you have a very special position of support, but it’s not always easy. It’s okay for you to struggle sometimes, and you should certainly seek support for yourself too. Here are some tips to help you provide what your spouse needs from you.
It’s important to know as much as possible about the recovery process so you can remain understanding throughout the process. Read as much as you can about the process. Talk to others who have been there. Hearing from other spouses who have helped their loved ones through addiction can be extremely helpful.
This is not an easy process for anyone, and it’s a process that can be full of ups and downs. No one recovers from an addiction overnight, and the path to recovery is long. You’ll need to be patient with your spouse as they battle their way to wellness. Often, just being by their side is helpful.
There are many ways to enable your spouse, such as:
- Allowing them to act abusively
- Making excuses for them
- Caring more for them than yourself
- Letting them avoid responsibilities
You should avoid this type of behavior because it makes it more difficult for the person with an addiction to recover. It’s far easier for them to continue on their current path.
Acknowledge the Problem
It may be tempting to ignore the addiction, but it’s best to have it out in the open. By being open to discussing it, your spouse is able to explain their feelings. This is also helpful, so you know when to get them outside treatment.
You may find it tempting to blame your spouse for their addiction, for financial issues, for other situations that you are in due to their abuse. This is never a good place to be. They’ll blame you for being the reason for their addiction or something else, and on and on it goes. Avoid the blame game and try to stay calm.
Know Normal is Gone
You will live a new normal, even once your spouse is in recovery. Addiction changes things, and that is something you’ll need to come to terms with.
Look After Yourself
You are important, too. Without staying healthy, you’ll find that it is challenging to continue supporting someone over time. You can take care of yourself by developing good, healthy habits, including:
- Eating well
- Sleeping well
- Practicing mindfulness
- Getting exercise
- Developing a hobby
You may also find a support group or attend therapy to help yourself stay healthy for your loved one.
It can be tough, but you need to set boundaries and hold to them when you have a spouse with an addiction. Not only should you make it very clear what you will and will not tolerate, explain the consequences of their actions and then stick to them when they cross the boundary.
You don’t have to do this all on your own. Contact Cardinal Recovery today to learn how we can help you and your spouse.
Resources for Addicts and Their Loved Ones
Everyone benefits from having support, but the specific resource you need may vary from someone else’s. People’s financial resources vary. Some people also prefer communicating in person, while others benefit from seeking help online or over the phone. Telemedicine has created new possibilities for addicts and their partners today.
You have plenty of options when it comes to finding the necessary support for your spouse and for yourself. Here are a few of your choices:
- Specialized Hotlines: These are hotlines aimed explicitly at the partners and spouses of people who have substance use problems. Addicts can use different hotlines.
- Counseling: Spouses might want therapists of their own. Some of them might be interested in relationship counseling. They should look for counselors that specialize in drug addiction and relationships where drug addiction is a problem.
- Support Groups: Some people have found that group therapy works for them. While addicts have support groups of their own, their spouses and partners have different support groups that focus on their needs and potential emotional concerns. Supports groups like Codependents Anonymous, Families Anonymous, Al-Anon, and Alateen are all geared towards providing help for the loved ones of an addict.
As the spouse or partner of an addict, you may feel frustrated and defeated. Navigating these uncertain waters alone is never the answer.
If your loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, we are here for you, and we are here to help. Contact Cardinal Recovery and let us guide you along the path to recovery.