Being Married to a Drug Addict

Being Married to a Drug Addict

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Many American households are affected by addiction. Unfortunately, relationships affected by addiction are at risk for unhealthy emotional abuse and stress. There are steps to take to support your loved one if you’re the spouse of an addict.

Facing addiction is a team effort. At Rock Recovery, we can be the guidance and assistance your family needs to recover from unhealthy family conditions. Understanding addiction, enabling behavior, and the recovery process is a significant first step toward recovery.

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Substance Use Data

Substance abuse affects millions of Americans ages 18 and older. A national survey provided the following information:

  • Almost 8 million Americans over the age of 11 reported the current use of illegal drugs in 2005.
  • In 2015, an estimated 27 million Americans over the age of 11 were currently using illegal drugs. 
  • There were 138.3 million Americans aged 12 or older in 2015 who reported current use of alcohol. Out of this group, 66.7 million people reported binge drinking in the past month.
  • In the U.S., 22.2 million people aged 12 or older in 2015 were current users of marijuana. Out of this group, 8.3% reported using marijuana in the past month.
  • About 1.6 million adults ages 18-25 and 4.3 million adults age 26 and older, in 2015,  reported use of psychotherapeutic drugs. These included prescription pain relievers, tranquilizers, and stimulants for non-medical reasons.

Many adult relationships fall within these statistics. The realistic aspect of being the spouse of an addict is overwhelming. It is often difficult to commit to the right course of action in these challenging situations. Whether it’s a marriage, informal living arrangement, or some form of domestic partnership, living with an addict is complicated. Substance abuse affects the entire home and often requires outside help. 

How Is the Spouse of an Addict Affected?

Domestic partnerships involving substance abuse may lead to conflict. Conflict may be verbal, but in more severe circumstances, it can turn physical. Substance abuse can alter one’s cognition and lead to issues throughout an individual’s life. Couples affected by addiction often face:

  • Financial difficulties
  • Drunk driving, illicit drug use, and child custody issues
  • Sexual, verbal, or physical abuse 

Substance abuse may cause someone to act in unpredictable and even unprecedented ways. An addicted individual may display angry and resentful behaviors, leading to at-home conflict. Any abuse within a relationship is not acceptable. If you are experiencing any form of abuse in your relationship, reach out to professional or legal authorities immediately. 

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How to Support a Partner Without Enabling

Being married to an addict, or even living with one, takes a physical and emotional toll. In family situations, many spouses of addicts are left with home and childcare responsibilities. In this situation, the individual must navigate through their loved one’s addiction while protecting their family and life. The demands this entails often lead to adverse outcomes, but there are steps to take toward recovery. Understanding enabling behavior can be the first step.

What Are Enabling Behaviors?

Enabling occurs when an individual unconsciously prevents their loved one from experiencing the consequences of drinking or using drugs. In most cases, a partner does not intend to feed into their loved one’s addiction. Enabling behaviors often involve:

  • Making excuses for your loved one’s shortcomings or behavior
  • Neglecting your needs to help your loved one
  • Allowing the addicted individual to neglect their responsibilities, usually over time
  • Allowing a loved one to abuse you or someone else

Supporting vs. Enabling

As the spouse of an addict, you may find yourself creating excuses or explanations for your partner. For some people, it may feel normal or natural to commit to this behavior. Unfortunately, these excuses help your addicted loved one live in denial. If this sounds familiar, you may be enabling instead of supporting.


Codependent behaviors are common in relationships affected by substance abuse. Codependency happens when individuals lose their sense of self, typically due to an overwhelming effort to rescue their loved one from substance abuse addiction. Codependency is highly detrimental to relationships and may even undermine the recovery process to retain self-esteem or feelings of power. 

If you are wondering if you exhibit codependent tendencies, ask yourself:

  • Do I set healthy boundaries for myself?
  • Have I let my loved one take full responsibility for their actions and behaviors?
  • Am I seeking help from a professional?
  • Do I give myself time for stress-relieving activities? 
  • Have I made time for my own recovery activities?

Support Your Partner By Staging an Intervention

When substance abuse becomes severe and affects multiple aspects of an individual’s life, it may be time for an intervention. Interventions are uncomfortable, especially in situations where an individual is married to an addict. Even though it is an emotional and challenging topic, an intervention can be lifesaving and actually has good chances of leading to positive outcomes.

Addiction is a complicated disease. Addiction is also often called a family disease. Choosing to conduct an intervention can be life-changing for the family and the suffering person. Interventions help show an individual that their behavior affects several aspects of their life and the people’s lives around them. When gripped by substance abuse, it’s almost impossible to have a healthy perspective and self-awareness. Interventions often act as a wake-up call for many people.

Interventions generally involve close family and friends. Bringing in the help of a professional interventionist can dramatically increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. Professional interventionists can help in the planning process as well as the therapeutic process. Industry professionals are experienced in dealing with most situations and are familiar with the entire recovery process.

How to Stage an Intervention

Each particular situation requires different steps and a catered plan for recovery. These basic steps outline what is involved in a successful intervention.

Devise a detailed plan

Developing a plan is an essential starting point for an intervention. Set a day and time where your loved one will not be under the influence of any substances.


Research what the recovery process looks like. At Rock Recovery, we offer several programs catered to many different circumstances and addictions. Be sure to understand what you are asking of your loved one. Understand what a successful intervention involves. Help each involved member understand interventions and your personal goal as the spouse of an addict.

Create a team

Interventions typically involve close friends and loved ones. If the situation is incredibly challenging and uncomfortable, it may be in your best interest to hire a social worker or professional interventionist. Make sure not to involve any individuals that struggle with substance abuse.

Set boundaries and consequences

During the intervention, let your loved one know the consequences of not joining a substance use treatment program. When setting boundaries, keep in mind that this is a complex topic. Ensure you are speaking out of love and support. Make sure your struggling loved one does not feel attacked.

Participant dialogue

Each involved member should have a plan of what they want to say. Interventions are often emotional, and it may be challenging to stay on track. Interventions are unpredictable, and anything can happen. Each team member should be prepared for any outcome.

Follow up

Following up is just as important as the intervention itself. If an individual stops using substances, it is essential they receive professional care immediately. Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. Even with substances that do not have severe withdrawal symptoms, it can still be very easy for the struggling individual to give back into their addiction.  

Treatment Options at Rock Recovery

We take an abstinence-based approach at Rock Recovery. Our programs teach clients to restructure their ideologies and behaviors. Many rehab programs encourage their clients to live with temptation. We believe people can develop the confidence to live without temptations. For those married to an addict, become familiar with each treatment and how they could help your loved one.

Traditional Rehab Program

Our traditional rehab program allows our clients to partake in healing activities while creating a foundation for their recovery. Whether it be lessons, trigger management, life coaching, or relapse prevention courses, we strive to cover each aspect of recovery. We utilize proven elements of treatment that have granted many individuals success through the years. Clients can expect to participate in:

Outpatient Rehab Program

Outpatient treatment works well for individuals who have completed inpatient treatment. Many people in recovery use the outpatient setting as a continued level of care. Recovery is a lifelong process, and continued support is often necessary. Our outpatient programs are not only limited to people who have completed inpatient rehabilitation, though. Outpatient programs allow our clients to:

  • Maintain current employment
  • Follow a preferred schedule and set the pace of treatment
  • Have the flexibility to take care of loved ones
  • Receive more affordable treatment
  • Have a high level of treatment even with a flexible schedule 

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, are a level of care in between inpatient and outpatient treatment. Similar to outpatient, IOPs allow our clients to focus on outside responsibilities while being committed to treatment. Patients in an intensive outpatient program meet three to four times a week for three or so hours at a time.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

For those wanting to continue treatment after short-term inpatient treatment, PHPs are an excellent choice. Each day, PHP patients may expect to participate in:

  • Peer focused education and group therapy
  • Wellness treatments, fitness, and other stimulating activities
  • Family-style gatherings to encourage social skill development, peer support, and general relationship building
  • Lectures about addiction and recovery 

Dual Diagnosis Program

Almost half of people in addiction treatment programs have dual diagnoses, also known as co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders are a combination of mental health disorders, often including addiction. Many people turn to substances to cope with an existing mental health disorder’s symptoms, which may eventuate substance abuse. Our dual diagnosis program uses specialized treatment to help our clients develop healthy coping methods instead of numbing themselves with substances.

Resources for Helping Your Partner

Many resources are available whether you are married to a drug addict or are suffering from substances yourself. 

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – These open and closed meetings focus on the 12-step process to obtain and sustain long-term sobriety.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – Similar to AA meetings, NA meetings are open to the public but offer closed session meetings. 
  • SMART Recovery – SMART Recovery offers a 12-step program that is not based on religion or faith.
  • Celebrate Recovery – Celebrate Recovery is a faith-based program that utilizes the 12-Step program. 
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – FMLA allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for medical reasons and treatment. 

Find Help at Rock Recovery Center

Rock Recovery Center strives to offer programs for individuals in any situation. We take pride in our licensed and experienced staff. If you have any questions regarding treatment opportunities for you or a loved one, please reach out. Recovery is possible, and it is one decision away. Contact us today for guidance and assistance. 

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