In all likelihood, your marriage vows included something about supporting and loving one another “in sickness and in health” and until “death do us part.” And when you consider that addiction is a sickness, you owe it to your husband to provide your love and support – even when it isn’t easy. The question is, how?
Helping Your Husband Through Addiction
Research suggests that there are as many as 12.5 million married couples that have at least one spouse suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. So if you’re experiencing the pain and challenge of being married to an addict, you aren’t alone. There are millions of other wives fighting the exact same battle.
As the spouse of an addict, it’s easy to feel like you’re the victim. It’s easy to feel as if you’re the one suffering. And while you are certainly taking the raw end of the deal, always remember that your husband is the victim.
Regardless of whether you agree with how he’s handled certain situations, or the pain he’s inflicted on your family, he is a victim in need of help. Here’s how you can come alongside and provide the care and support that your family needs:
- Stage an Intervention
It’s possible that your husband is in denial about the fact that he’s addicted to drugs or alcohol. And if he is in denial, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll seek out the help he needs. This is what makes interventions so powerful.
As Mayo Clinic explains, “An intervention is a carefully planned process that may be done by family and friends, in consultation with a doctor or professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor or directed by an intervention professional (interventionist). It sometimes involves a member of your loved one’s faith or others who care about the person struggling with addiction.”
If you’re thinking about conducting an intervention, you may only have one shot. Make sure you consult with the right people and get everything lined up appropriately. You don’t want to make your husband feel attacked, or he could become more isolated. He needs to feel the weight of the situation, while also knowing that he’s loved.
- Get the Appropriate Diagnosis
Not all addiction is created equal. In order to seek out the best treatment, it’s imperative that you understand what exactly is going on inside your husband’s brain. You may find it most helpful to pursue dual-diagnosis treatment.
“Essentially, dual-diagnosis is the process of treating multiple elements of his addiction at the same time,” explains Her House Women’s Treatment. “After all, he isn’t suffering from just a physical problem – though that’s a significant element – but mental health concerns as well. In fact, there’s a good chance that these issues are fueling his physical addiction to even worse levels.”
Only certain treatment centers offer dual diagnosis treatment, so you’ll have to conduct some thorough research if this is the path your husband decides to pursue.
- Take Care of Yourself (and Children)
While you must care for your husband in the midst of his illness/addiction, you’re also called to protect yourself and your children. Depending on their ages, you may choose to shelter them from certain details of the situation. However, you shouldn’t hide them completely. They need to understand what’s happening (at an age-appropriate level) so they get a picture of the danger and destruction of addiction (which many believe to be hereditary).
- Join a Support Group
There are plenty of support groups for spouses of addicts. If you feel neglected and misunderstood, a support group can provide you with a community of like-minded individuals.
In Sickness and in Health
It’s easy to love your husband when he’s healthy, happy, and loving. It’s much more challenging to continue loving him when he’s going through an addiction that threatens to tear apart the very fiber of your family.
But you didn’t get into marriage because you thought it would be easy and effortless. You chose to marry your husband because you love him. Addiction, as polarizing as it is, is a mental illness that needs to be treated with care, compassion, and a generous amount of understanding. Being a supportive spouse is the role you’re called to fulfill.