Substance addiction tends to rock family relationships. When a spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol, your marriage may enter a phase of turmoil. Luckily, because substance addiction is a treatable disease, there is always hope. If you support a spouse through recovery, expect a significant learning curve, but know that healing is possible.
What to Expect
It is essential to set realistic expectations for this challenging journey. If your spouse has decided to seek treatment for their substance use disorder (SUD), it can begin a new page in your life and relationship. You can celebrate it and look forward to a new beginning. But, at the same time, old patterns tend to linger and must be remedied.
First, both partners must prioritize sobriety for this new stage of life. If your spouse is committed to getting sober, they might attend regular meetings or make new friends at the rehab center. Understand and support these changes and avoid feeling left out or jealous.
Secondly, get informed and educated about their recovery process. While supporting your spouse in working through meetings and treatments, speak with health professionals to get updates and learn more about the science behind SUD and the various kinds of treatment modalities that are helping your spouse achieve sobriety.
Lastly, but most importantly, expect this journey to be full of difficulties. It can be hard to keep a person motivated through recovery. You may find your spouse losing motivation and commitment. Relapses may happen. Even in these situations, support them in giving it another try. Do not become judgmental or give in to despair.
Helping Versus Enabling
Understanding the difference between helping and enabling is an important place to start. In most cases, substance addiction tends to distort intimate relationships to the extent that one person becomes an enabler. You may have tried to hide the extent of your spouse’s addiction from family members and friends. Additionally, you may have given in to your spouse’s whims when they were under the influence of substances. Finally, you may have lied for, covered up for, or bailed out your spouse when addiction consequences flared.
When caring for a recovering spouse, the first thing to do is identify enabling behaviors and correct course. Next, create new boundaries and hold your spouse accountable. If and when this becomes difficult to achieve, consider working with a therapist or beginning couples counseling.
Healthy Ways to Help Your Spouse
Halting enabling in its tracks does not mean that you quit being supportive of your spouse. On the contrary, there are many healthy ways you can provide support. These include helping your spouse navigate negative moods, getting help from health professionals, ensuring they keep up with recovery activities, preparing healthy meals, and reminding them to get regular exercise and enough rest.
The most recovery-supportive partner is one who helps with stress management. This is a critical skill for relapse prevention while your spouse is in recovery. The last thing you want to be is your spouse’s added source of stress. Maintain your calm and be resourceful in providing mood-stabilizing advice. Work closely with recovery experts and mental health professionals to learn the best ways to do this so you can help your spouse deal with stress and other triggers healthily.
Improving Communication With Your Spouse
Building better communication channels is crucial in a relationship. Encourage your spouse to talk with you about their health and sobriety openly. Both of you should be engaged in their recovery plan and action items. Support your spouse by verbalizing concerns and providing encouragement throughout the treatment process.
You should also talk openly about common triggers to support their recovery. Triggers can come from emotional, mental, sensory, environmental, and other sources. When you both are aware of these triggers, it is easier to intervene or provide additional accountability and support for your spouse. Meanwhile, have conversations about implementing sober activities into your life together. For example, try exploring new hobbies that both of you enjoy together.
Where to Get Professional Help and Extra Support
To be part of a sound support system for your spouse, you must also build a support system around yourself. This group can include family members, friends, other spouses of recovering individuals, and health professionals. When things get complicated, reach out to those you trust. Also, start thinking about recovery as a family project involving more people than you.
You can also consider joining a support group of people whose loved ones are going through recovery. Also, individual or family therapy may be a good idea. This can be an integral part of your self-care. Take couples’ therapy, for example. Even the healthiest relationships may need couples therapy because it improves communication, making it especially crucial for those with spouses in recovery.
If a relapse happens, seek further professional help. Addiction is a challenging, chronic disease. A relapse does not signal a failure or the end of recovery. Instead, it is a sign that your spouse needs additional assistance and can help you identify weak spots in their recovery plan that need to be strengthened.
Having a spouse or partner struggling with addiction can be challenging. Laguna Shores provides family therapy and couples counseling to help you navigate the journey. Our team has experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff who understand the complexity of recovery and relationships. We apply evidence-based treatment and adopt an integrated and holistic approach to recovery. We will walk alongside you or your loved one to offer support and guidance. Alongside customized treatment plans, family therapy, and support groups, Laguna Shores Recovery also offers aftercare programs that connect you and your loved one with a community of recovering individuals. You will meet other families learning how to support their loved ones through treatment and sobriety. You do not have to endure this struggle alone. Early intervention is key to supporting your loved one. Call (954) 329-1118 today.