How to Support a Spouse Through Addiction Recovery
Finding out that your spouse has an addiction is devastating. There is a feeling of betrayal because often the addiction was kept a secret. You might feel intense anger, especially if you perceive addiction to be a weakness. Addiction has an impact on your financial security.
Your spouse might have been raiding your savings account or going into debt to finance their addiction. This places you at a significant economic risk. For an instant, you can’t see how the future will work now that this disaster has befallen your family unit.
Here are the steps to begin to plot a new path forward when your spouse is recovering from an addiction:
- Recognize the addiction for what it is
You cannot afford to be in denial over your spouse’s addiction. It is also vital to understand that addiction is not a weakness, it is an illness. Addiction cannot be fixed or cured without intervention. You cannot shame your spouse into stopping their addiction. Try to understand that your spouse probably hates their addiction and that it controls him/her.
- Don’t judge
You have to restrain yourself from judging your spouse. If he/she feels threatened, he/she may not seek treatment. Instead, they will retreat further into the addiction to avoid your judgmental comments. A less judgmental, more supportive attitude will encourage your spouse to seek treatment. Treatment works only when the addict wants it.
- Seek recovery options
Help your spouse by establishing what resources you have access to for recovery. You need to find out about rehab options, support groups, therapists, and government support structures to get help. Show your spouse your commitment to their recovery by going through the options with them. As a couple, you can then choose the one that will be most appropriate for you.
- Go into your own recovery program
While your spouse is undertaking their own addiction recovery program, you need to recover as well. You might need counseling or therapy to help you understand your spouse’s addiction. Advice on the way forward when your spouse comes home is also necessary.
There will be a lot of emotional turmoil in the wake of your spouse’s addiction. It’s better to deal with it decisively. If you don’t, it will remain with you, and you won’t be able to let it go. Without letting it go and forgiveness, it will be difficult to find a way to make your marriage work. It’s important to prepare yourself for how things will work once your spouse’s recovery begins.
- Play the supportive role
Once your spouse is in the recovery process, you need to be on hand to support him/her. A vital aspect of addiction recovery is motivation. Show your spouse that you are a motivator for him/her to recover from the addiction.
Take the advice of therapists and counselors. There are certain things they will tell you not to keep in the house. Make sure you stick to their advice.
During their recovery, your spouse will identify triggers that make them want to go back to their addiction. It’s important to understand these triggers. Then you can do what is necessary to help your spouse face them.
A large part of recovery has to do with accountability. The addict must face the responsibility for their addiction and maintain their recovery. There is a balance between supporting your spouse’s recovery and taking over. If you take over, your spouse is no longer responsible.
- Long-term monitoring and support
As time passes, you need to keep an eye on your spouse’s behaviors. They can indicate a relapse. However, you need to learn to trust your spouse again. Don’t become too domineering or inquisitive unless you feel something is wrong.
You’ve experienced the addiction once, so you’ll quickly pick up if they’re falling off the wagon. If you see concerning behavior, do something about it immediately. Sometimes, recovery takes more than one attempt.