Coping with Spouse Addiction
In any marriage, some challenges and issues need to be faced.
Couples who choose to get married know things won’t always be flowers and rainbows.
Even in marriage vows, couples promise to remain steadfast in true in sickness and in health, richer or poorer, better or worse.
And it doesn’t get much worse than spouse addiction.
Some marriage issues require professional help and while marriage counselors are often the go-to professionals for couples in trouble, spouse addiction requires something else.
That’s where the trained and experienced staff at Resurgence Behavioral Health can help.
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What is Spouse Addiction?
Simply put, spouse addiction is when one person within a marriage develops a substance abuse problem.
This can apply to any kind of drugs or alcohol.
A reliance and addiction to any substance can often develop without the partner realizing just how serious things have become.
In many cases, a spouse may know their partner uses a certain substance, but they don’t see it as a problem.
Maybe your wife has a few glasses of wine in the evening.
Maybe your husband uses an enhancing drug out in the garage while he’s working on a project.
What seems like a harmless way to relieve stress, blow off steam, or enhance creativity can quickly become a serious health issue.
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What Kind of Spouse Becomes Addicted?
Spousal addiction may seem like something that can not happen in a healthy and loving relationship, but that simply is not the case. Addiction crosses over every boundary there is. A couple’s overall happiness, financial security, and standing within the community have no bearing on whether or not a spouse becomes addicted. In many cases, people who seem perfect to outsiders are struggling with many things internally. Anyone’s spouse can develop a problem with addiction. The addiction is not a reflection of the marriage or even of the other spouse.
Secrets Within a Marriage
Let’s be clear: every marriage has its secrets. After all, we are all human and each of us has different crutches we use. Maybe your spouse doesn’t know about the pack of Oreos in the back of the freezer. Maybe they have no idea just how much you spend on your hobby of choice. These are often harmless secrets since they do not affect the health of the relationship. After all, there is something to be said for retaining a bit of your individuality. But these secrets aren’t harmful for one important reason: You can still be present within the marriage. Addiction undermines any attempt for you to share your life with another person. Addiction requires all of your energy, your time, your attention. Once addiction enters the picture, there simply is no room for anyone or anything else – including a healthy relationship with your spouse.
How Spouse Addiction Affects a Couple
In terms of your relationship, addiction is a devastating force. It doesn’t explode like a bomb. Instead, it infects, it festers, it seeps into every corner of the relationship. The lies build up slowly. Maybe you start hiding money or diverting funds to your addiction. You spend more time apart to indulge in the addiction. You need more time to go out and buy your substance of choice. Your attention is not even with your spouse when you do spend time together. Quality time becomes a chore since your mind is always somewhere else. It erodes a marriage like a mold. It rots from the inside out, planting seeds of ‘little white lies’ that make major deceptions seem not so bad later on. It teaches the addicted spouse how to lie with a smile on their face. It rewards the deception with more time to indulge in the addiction. Before you know it, there’s a third “person” in your marriage.
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10 Telltale Signs of Spouse Addiction
So what is the difference between a spouse who may be partying a little here and there and the signs of a full-blown and dangerous addiction? Well, even the fact that you are asking the question should be seen as a major red flag. But, as with any other form of addiction, there are often tell-tale signs of an emerging or worsening addiction. These include:
- Weight Changes – Some substances may cause weight gain, while others cause weight loss. While some fluctuations in weight can be normal, marked changes should be seen as a red flag of addiction.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns – Not all couples share a bed-time or what time they rise in the morning. Again, this can be due to many factors. But if your spouse makes it a point to be awake when you are asleep or they are sleeping through important appointments and events, it could be the sign of something more.
- Changes in Eating Habits – Addiction in all its forms often impacts someone’s eating habits. Any big change should be investigated.
- Loss of Interest in Hobbies and Family Activities – Has your spouse gone from coordinating family getaways to disappearing into the garage for hours on end? Are they not interested in the board games, puzzles, or family crafts they used to love doing?
- More Time Alone – Time alone is important to everyone’s mental health. Even extroverts often need at least some time to recharge. But if your spouse suddenly requires an excessive amount of ‘alone time’, it is a definite sign of trouble.
- Short Temper and Increased Anger – Any addiction makes it difficult for people to focus on anything other than procuring their substance of choice. Spouses who lash out or become agitated over things that normally wouldn’t bother them may be involved in a deepening addiction.
- Physical Changes – Many addictions exact a physical toll. Injection sites, ashy skin, scabs, and irritated nasal passages are some of the most common physical signs of addiction.
- Hiding Phone Calls, Texts, and Social Media – Obtaining drugs is, by its nature, a secretive endeavor. While some level of privacy is normal, spouses who guard their phones, change their passwords often, or otherwise clearly attempt to hide their communications and online activity should raise suspicions.
- Problems at Work – Since addiction demands so much of a person’s time and energy, it does not take long for it to affect their performance at work. Whether your spouse is a CEO, a healthcare worker, or a stay-at-home parent, changes in their overall performance and dedication should be looked at more closely.
They Aren’t Who You Fell in Love With – We all change over time. But, let’s face it – you know when your spouse simply isn’t themselves. If the person you fell in love with suddenly seems like a stranger, it’s time to take action.
Finding Help with Spouse Addiction
When dealing with spouse addiction it is important to make one thing clear: You cannot force anyone to get better. While there are extreme cases where someone may be compelled into therapy, these scenarios rarely work out well. If you believe your spouse is struggling with addiction, the first step is to simply confront them directly.
Tips on Approaching your Spouse
There are three important things you should do when dealing with a spouse who you believe is struggling with addiction:
- Talk to the Professionals – Turn to professionals in your life to better understand how addiction works. You can reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, for free and confidential information and support.
- Don’t Accuse – Someone dealing with an addiction likely already feels a great amount of guilt and shame. As much as you may be hurting, avoiding using language that can be seen as threatening.
- Have a Plan – When confronting an addiction, your spouse may challenge you over ways to address it. Have a plan ready and understand what help is available.
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Reaching out to Save the Person you Love
The staff at Resurgence Behavioral Health understands addiction comes at every phase in life.
We offer services and support to help with everything from how to approach the issue to Insurance Verification to see what treatment plans are covered by your insurance.
Our staff is here to meet people in the grips of addiction – and those who love them – at any phase in their journey.
The road to recovery is not easy and cannot be achieved alone.
Saving the life of a loved one sometimes means picking up the phone and reaching out for help.