Mon. Jul 4th, 2022

8 dos and don’ts when helping a spouse with drug addiction

Drug addiction can tear a family apart when not treated properly. It’s a devastating consequence of actions that, at one time, may not have seemed so harmful.

Addiction can occur for a number of reasons. People may use prescription medicine to treat pain and then accidently become addicted to it. They may also take the drug after being influenced by others. Or, they may turn to drugs to relieve stress and calm nerves.

Drugs affect people psychically and psychologically, causing them to do things and act in ways that are not normal. They may act more physically and emotionally abusive or become more  irritable. They may feel depressed or lethargic.

No matter the symptoms, when not treated, the end result is always the same: Their life and the lives of those around them slowly disintegrate.

To properly care for someone who is addicted to drugs, you must take the proper steps. [Here are] some things you must do to help your spouse overcome his or her addiction:


1. Observe, listen and learn

It’s important not to judge an addict. In order to treat them, you must observe how they act and listen to how they feel. By doing so, you’ll learn how best to approach them about treatment.

That’s the key: Before treating your spouse, first learn how to properly talk with them.

2. Ask for help

You won’t be able to help someone who is addicted alone. The reality is, unless you’re a licensed professional, you just don’t have the experience to treat someone properly.

Professionals will be able to diagnosis a patient and form a long-term strategy to ensure the patient not only recovers, but does not relapse. Many will also use a dual-diagnosis approach, treating the underlying problem as well as the disease.

3. Reaffirm care for loved one

A person addicted to drugs may not react favorably to you reaching out. It’s common for them to get defensive. They may think you’re judging and attacking them for their way of life, a lifestyle they’ve become very accustomed to and one they likely don’t believe is dangerous.

4. Create a blueprint for recovery

When you recognize that a loved one is having a problem with drugs, it’s important to first step back and assess the situation. Ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • When did they start taking drugs? Why did they start using them? And when did I notice this person change or become addicted? You may not be able to answer this question immediately, but it’s a good starting point.
  • How do I approach the situation? If you feel like you can reach out to them immediately and receive a positive reaction, do so. If not, call the professionals and obtain advice. You don’t want to approach a spouse the wrong way. This could set the process back.

Once you assess the situation, quickly take action. Their life often depends on it.

If your spouse is suffering from drug addiction, it’s important to act quickly but carefully. If you don’t, the addiction can tear apart your relationship and your family.

Before reaching out to help your loved one, it’s important to understand a few things about drug addiction:

  • Drug addiction can happen to anyone for any reason. People may use drugs to treat pain or relieve stress. Others may influence them to take drugs to be part of a clique.
  • Substances affect people psychically and psychologically, causing them to act in often irrational ways. They become more abusive, irritable or depressed. The most important thing to them will no longer be caring for their own financial, emotional or physical well-being but instead to find the drugs as often as possible.
  • Symptoms can vary, but the end result is always the same: Their life and the lives of those around them slowly disintegrate.

To properly care for a spouse who is addicted to drugs, you must take the proper protocols. In the first part of our two-part series, we explored four things you should do when caring for an addict. In the final part, we look at four things you should never do.


1. Judge or assign blame

You should never accuse your partner or wallow in self-pity. It’s important your loved one knows you’re supporting him or her. Before offering a helping hand, you must first accept that addiction is a complex disease that affects all types of people in various ways.

2. Anticipate an easy process

Recovering from drug addiction is not easy. It’s often an intensive process that involves a long-term strategy and many sessions with a professional. During these sessions, a doctor, will take a dual diagnosis approach to understand the initial problem prior to treating it. They’ll also lay out plans to avoid relapse.

3. Overlook your own needs

Heed this cautionary piece of advice: Helping an addict is incredibly draining. There have plenty of incidences where the supporter is dragged down as they lend a helping hand. This is extremely dangerous.

4. Expect things to go back to normal

It’s important you and your spouse understand that, for better or worse, life is continuously evolving. Many times, that old way of life pushed your spouse to become addicted to drugs. So, it’s not good practice to encourage him or her to live that way again. Instead of trying to live in the past, push forward to a happier and more healthy way of living.



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