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Six Tips for Living with an Addicted Spouse

Written By: Harris House

Category: Blog, Recovery

Woman comforting a man appearing in pain.

Leading with love can make all the difference in the life of someone struggling with addiction.

Addiction doesn’t just affect the substance abuser. It also affects everyone in that person’s life. This is seen no more clearly than in the case of spouses, who are often impacted in profoundly detrimental ways ranging from the psychological to the economical. While these challenges can seem hopeless, there are some things you can to find balance while learning how to care for your partner and for yourself.

1. Understand the nature of addiction.

To truly understand what your partner is going through, it’s first important to understand the nature of addiction. Addiction is a chronic, long-term disease in which significant alterations occur in the brain that make it dependent on a particular substance. These changes can be so powerful that they impede a person’s ability to control their use, even when they’re aware of the severe consequences associated with continuing the behavior. The takeaway for someone who loves someone with an addiction? It’s not personal. Keeping this in mind can help you maintain the proper perspective.

2. Know that you can’t fix it.

Understanding how addiction works is one thing. Understanding that it’s not within your power to fix it is another. Just as you didn’t cause the addiction, nor can you “cure” it. Accepting this truth can help you avoid feeling blame, guilt, and other negative and misguided emotions.

3. Make self-care a priority.

Addiction can cause stress and anxiety to all of the members of your household. Prioritizing self-care can help you find the balance necessary to manage these health needs. Living with someone with an addiction can be all-encompassing. Setting aside time for yourself for sleeping, exercising, eating right, and relaxation can all help support your overall wellbeing. Joining a support group can also help ensure that your needs are being met.

4. Set boundaries — and stick to them.

Supporting a loved one with an addiction doesn’t mean putting up with behavior that is dangerous or unacceptable in any way. Establish clear rules and expectations, as well as consequences for when these boundaries are broken. Consistency is key. If at any point you feel that you or other members of your household are unsafe, it may be time to ask your spouse to leave the home. It’s also vital to have a plan in place if and when a situation escalates. Addicts aren’t inherently dangerous. However, they can become dangerous if under the influence.

People sitting with hands crossed.

Healing is a family affair.

5. Safeguard your finances.

Your spouse may not be thinking clearly due to his/her addiction. This may lead to them doing whatever they can do to get their hands on money to support their addiction, including spending excessively. Before this can happen to you, consider taking your spouse off personal bank accounts and credit cards. Some people even open up their own bank accounts to ensure that access to finances is sufficiently restricted.

6. Encourage them to seek treatment.

Unfortunately, many addicts think they can fight addiction alone, but this is very rarely the case. An open conversation with your loved one about treatment programs may offer the incentive he/she needs to take this monumental step toward recovery and a substance-free life. Remember that listening is as important as talking during this conversation, as is leading with kindness and unconditional love. You can’t force someone with an addiction to change their behaviors and/or to enter treatment, but you can let the person know how much you support their recovery.

Speaking of treatment, all rehabilitation programs aren’t created equal. Finding the right one can make all the difference. Enter St Louis drug rehab Harris House. A leading area substance abuse rehabilitation center for more than 50 years, Harris House offers individualized and holistic treatment programs designed to support people living with addictions as well as the people who love them.  Call us today to learn about admissions.

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