An estimated 14.6% of people in the U.S. may develop a substance use disorder (SUD) at one point in their lives. Even more concerning is that some live in households with their spouses and children.
If you’re a spouse of an addict yourself, your continued support can help them get through. However, you must prioritize your health and safety, as living with an addict can be stressful. Research even found that families of people with SUD are psychologically vulnerable.
We’ve shared tips on how to cope while dealing with an addict, so please read on.
1. Safety First
Studies have long since linked drug use disorders with increased violence risk. For example, they associate stimulants like crack cocaine with aggressiveness and irritability. They also found that people with an SUD have a 4- to 10-fold higher risk of committing violence.
If your spouse with SUD tends to become aggressive, your safety could be at risk. Please seek help immediately from legal authorities if you feel you’re in danger. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help.
2. Helping Without Enabling
Enabling is allowing a person to continue their harmful or problematic behavior. Loving an addict can cause this, such as if you tolerate their behavior or lend them money. Unfortunately, this can be more damaging in the long run as it doesn’t help them kick their bad habits.
Helping an addict is best done by encouraging them to enter a residential rehab program for men or women. Tell them you’re willing to support and wait for them as they complete their rehab treatment. Remind them that you love them but firmly clarify their behaviors are not OK.
3. Find a Support Group
Support groups, such as A1-Anon and Nar-Anon, can give you a safe, supportive environment. These are fellowships of relatives and friends of people with SUD. Here, you can share your thoughts and fears with others who’ve gone through similar things as you.
A1-Anon is a support group specifically for those affected by someone’s else drinking. Nar-Anon is for those who have deep relationships with people addicted to narcotics.
4. Consider Therapy Yourself
Individual therapy can give you, the spouse of an addict, an outlet for your thoughts and feelings. You can tell your therapist anything without worrying about them judging you. By having someone to share your anxiety and stress with, you may find your mental burden ease.
Your therapist can help you develop positive coping skills while your spouse is in rehab. They can teach you ways to improve your self-esteem and worth and manage your mental health. Their treatments can also help you heal past traumas still haunting you.
Follow These Tips as a Spouse of an Addict
Please remember that, as a spouse of an addict, your health and safety can also be at risk. And as much as you love your spouse, you must prioritize your well-being. So while you should encourage them to seek help, do the same for yourself. For more guides like this, read our post on self-care or finding an addiction treatment center.