The Dos and Don’ts of Helping Your Addicted Spouse
You don’t know how you got to this point, but you know there’s a problem. Your spouse is struggling with addiction. You’ve woken up to the same person for nearly a decade, and now you barely recognize her. What do you do?
The first step is to realize that what’s happening to your spouse is beyond his or her control. Your partner needs help, and you are the best person for the job.
As you’re navigating these choppy waters, rely on the following dos and don’ts to help guide you both to safety.
Speak to your partner calmly and honestly. Tell him that you care, and you want to help him get better. Talk about how you can overcome this adversity and get back to a life you love again. You’ll need to practice listening skills throughout recovery, but it’s also important that your partner hear what you have to say.
Offer harsh criticisms or place blame. Now is not the time to talk about your spouse’s decision to try an addictive substance or how many times she tried quitting in the past. More than anything, she needs hope and needs to know you’re on her side. Addiction is a disease, and this isn’t her fault.
Ask for help. Because of the stigma surrounding addiction, it may be tempting to hide the problem from family and friends. Be careful about this. You don’t have to broadcast the news on a billboard, but do choose two to three people who can help provide emotional and physical support. You never know when you’ll need someone to help you get your spouse to a meeting or get you through a rough time.
Don’t forget about your own emotional needs. Recovery is a process that takes its toll on everyone who loves the recovering addict. The only way you can stay strong to support your spouse is to take good care of yourself. This may involve taking some time away to collect your thoughts. Your spouse does need you, but he also needs you at your best.
Create a plan for recovery. It is rare for anyone to recover from addiction without professional help. Give your spouse the best chance for success by finding the right rehabilitation program for him or her. Recovery is a long road, so you’ll want to look for a program that spans at least 90 days. Once your spouse is in a program, start planning post-rehab life. Maybe you need to remove alcohol from the house or get started on healthy new routines. Downtime is a recovering addict’s worst enemy, so try to figure out how you’ll keep busy together.
As you go through the process, remember that there’s a fine line between helping and enabling. For specific help and guidance in this area, consider joining a group like ALANON that is in place to help families of addicts. You will also get some much-needed emotional support to help you through your spouse’s recovery.
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