There are few things that can place more of a burden on a couple than drug or alcohol addiction. The challenges that come with caring for someone who is currently undergoing or has undergone treatment to overcome an addiction can either strengthen or destroy a relationship. After all, addiction can take a severe toll on not only the parties involved but also the relationship as a whole.
All too often, issues regarding money, monogamy, and honesty will place a strain on the relationship and, in extreme cases, physical and emotional abuse will further complicate matters. It should be noted that some couples have been able to weather the storm that comes with substance abuse in a relationship. So it is possible to keep your relationship intact while seeking to overcome addiction; however, it will require hard work and commitment from both parties. In this article, we will take a closer look at what it takes to support a spouse who may be going through addiction.
How To Ensure Your Spouse Overcomes Their Addiction
Feeling powerless is the one thing that is salient amongst those supporting a spouse who is trying to free themselves from drug or alcohol addiction. That said, it is important to remain strong through the challenges that come with cravings, temptation, and withdrawal as they can test your patience, weaken your resolve, and destroy your relationship.
To help families and couples through these challenging times, many drug treatment programs offer educational workshops and counseling that are designed to equip spouses and families with the tools needed to ensure a smooth transition once their loved one has returned home. If your spouse is working towards overcoming an addiction, it would be a good idea for both of you to take advantage of these programs. So what is the downside of not taking advantage of these programs? Well, it may lead to a situation where you, as a caregiver, either becomes an enabler or a spouse who is codependent.
Supporting A Spouse In Addiction Recovery
The early stages of recovery can often be the most difficult for couples either married or in a committed relationship as those who are attempting to overcome their addiction may need to become selfish. Ordinarily, selfishness would be ill-advised under normal circumstances; however, it is a necessity for the individuals seeking to become sober, especially during the first year of his or her sobriety.
The premise behind this is that being “selfish” enables the individual struggling with alcohol or drugs to reflect on what may have contributed to their addiction in the first place. Beyond that, it allows them to concentrate on maintaining their sobriety and rebuilding their lives. As a caring spouse, what can you do to help in this process? Well, it is important that you avoid being overly critical during this time.
According to a study conducted by the State University of New York, a spouse is twice as likely to relapse if they believe their significant other is non-supportive or overly critical, especially men. Here are a few more tips that can help you in supporting a spouse in addiction recovery:
- Patience – It’s easy to become discouraged with how long it may take for your spouse to break free of their addiction, but it is important to remember that the journey is a lengthy one. A lack of patience will only serve to make things worse and could potentially result in relapse.
- Accept that your relationship will be changed – While it may be difficult to accept, addiction and the journey toward recovery can change the dynamic of your relationship. That said, it is a good idea to allow your spouse the freedom to explore a life that doesn’t include addiction even if it means engaging in activities that don’t include you. As he or she finds new ways of distracting themselves from drugs or alcohol, it will invariably strengthen your relationship.
- Communication – It is always important to keep the lines of communication open in any relationship, but it is especially true for relationships in recovery. Sharing your expectation for recovery with one another is can strengthen your relationship bond, allowing you to work as a team towards reaching a shared goal.
- Familiarize yourself with the recovery process – Along with keeping the lines of communication open, it helps to be familiar with what addiction recovery entails. In doing so, you will be able to understand their journey from addiction to sobriety, not to mention the many obstacles that they will have to overcome.
- Praise small and large accomplishments – This is an opportunity for you to rally behind your spouse and encourage them to succeed. For example, encouraging them to attend counseling or their 12-step meetings can go a long way towards ensuring they overcome their addiction. The same applies to any milestones they may have reached while on their journey.
- Avoiding blame and forgiving setbacks – While your spouse is going through recovery, it is important to avoid casting aspersions as it will do more harm than good. Instead, acknowledge that addiction is a disease. And prepare yourself for possible setbacks, understanding that they will inevitably be part of the journey when it comes to relationships in recovery.
In summation, when it comes to couples with a spouse trying to free themselves from an alcohol or drug addiction, life doesn’t easily fall back into place without both parties working together. Although it may not seem like it at the moment, recovery can deepen the bonds of a committed relationship or a marriage; however, it can only happen if you both take care of yourselves and one another. Obviously, recovery will ultimately be your spouse’s responsibility, but they shouldn’t have to go it alone. After all, the process of getting through withdrawal, detox, and avoiding relapse can be easier to endure with the help of one’s spouse. If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, contact us today for help in achieving recovery.