How To Help A Spouse With Addiction

After 13 years of marriage, you thought you knew everything about your spouse. After catching them using heroin, you’re desperate to know how to help a spouse with addiction. You still love them deeply but it’s hard to recognize the person you see before you.

This period can be quite challenging, especially the possibility of that partner denying they have a problem. Addiction is a chronic but treatable disease. Addiction is known as a disease that spreads into the family. Everyone is affected by these compulsions.

Divorce is a common consequence of an addiction left untreated. Roughly 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce. The average age of a person who gets divorced is 30. Addiction can place additional strain on a marriage.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Spouse Who Has An Addiction?

Maintaining a long-term relationship with anyone requires patience, empathy, and transparency. You may be frustrated about how to help a spouse with addiction. You might be considering leaving them to preserve your emotional health. It’s crucial to analyze the signs of addiction in your spouse before concluding.

Your partner could have been hiding their addiction or it was present before your first meeting. Addiction can spring from a variety of risk factors from genetics to childhood trauma. This person could have begun by experimenting or as a means to cope with their family environment. Co-occurring disorders are prevalent in those who are struggling with a substance use disorder.

These signs may include:

  • Spending time or money to obtain the substance
  • Spending time with individuals who misuse substances
  • Isolating
  • A decline in maintaining responsibilities
  • A decline in personal hygiene
  • Unexplained absences from social activities
  • Time spent recovering from substance use
  • Stealing or pawning

Addiction is a disease the hijacks the reward centers of the brain, influencing repetitive behaviors. Chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters are responsible for the responses throughout the central nervous system. This vital piece of our functioning is what centers our sense of pleasure and motivation.

The side effects of long-term substance use will directly impact the wiring of the brain. This can cause the person to experience intense cravings for the substance, despite the consequences. Your partner may have decided to try a substance out of experimentation or peer pressure, however, the physiological responses struck them in a specific way.

How To Stage An Intervention

If it has become apparent that your spouse needs help with addiction, you will need to stage an intervention. Staging an intervention is the preliminary round in the fight against addiction. Enlisting the help of a professional interventionist or counselor can help direct you through this painful process.

A professional interventionist can provide you with the tools on what to say and how to proceed with treatment options. Your spouse may resist the intervention, but if you feel as though you wish to persist, it would be best to reevaluate the recovery strategy.

To stage an intervention, it’s recommended to use a neutral setting to provide a supportive environment. Make sure only close friends and family members are present for the intervention. Your spouse must feel as though they are in a place where they are not being judged.

Use “I” statements to demonstrate how their substance use affects you and themselves. Remind them of your care and why you felt compelled to stage an intervention for their own sake. Educate yourself on the science behind addiction and behavioral disorders to give insight into their struggle.

It will show them that you’ve prepared for their recovery rather than a direct attack on their character. The person may be struggling with feelings of shame and guilt, which can cause them to withdraw from hearing anything useful you say. Avoid using terms like “addict” or “junkie” to preserve your spouse’s sense of humanity.

Encourage them to seek treatment through a detailed plan. Recovery is a process that extends throughout life. Addiction has no cure but you can manage the cravings through healthier coping mechanisms.

How Does Addiction Lead To Divorce?

Many factors increase the likelihood of divorce. Each couple will deal with the terms of their relationship to determine the next steps. The emotional turmoil from this type of conflict can breed neglect and hurtful interactions.

The process of divorce can manifest on average of 2 years before a final decision is made. A common fear of those with addiction in marriage is the loss of custody of their children. The judge will honor the non-addicted parent with full custody of the child or children, denying visitation rights to the other parent.

Depending on the severity of the case, divorce might be the only option for you. Family therapy and addiction support groups for couples are available at most facilities. Admitting into treatment can inspire positive outcomes in the restoration of committed relationships.

how to help a spouse with addiction

Addiction does not rewrite itself. Doing nothing when it comes to the addiction of your spouse is not encouraged. You don’t have to live with the addiction, although, it would be best to decide where your needs could be met through a divorce or working through the substance use disorder. Treatment can serve as an alternative option for couples willing to heal.

Trust Issues

You might feel betrayed by the substance use of your spouse. These feelings can brew resentment and uncertainty about the status of your relationship. Developing trust in your spouse again maybe a mountain to climb.

Financial Hardships

Addiction can introduce financial issues to the relationship. You might have noticed missing funds or possessions. If your spouse has gone to the great lengths to obtain a substance, then they could have stolen or pawned for it. Addiction can cause a person to decline in work performance, leading to unemployment. The cost of addiction treatment itself may cause relationship conflict.

Substance-related accidents are another risk factor for financial hardships. Driving under the influence can bring potential fatal accidents or external damage. The costs of repair and recovery could leave the other partner in a wasteland of financial debt.

Emotional Distress

Domestic violence, particularly alcoholism and divorce, contributes to the emotional whirlwind of addiction. Your relationship could have blossomed with warm memories and authentic intimacy. When children are involved in a relationship with addiction, they risk developing mental and social impairments. This can drive a wedge between the family dynamics.

Co-dependent relationships are the driving force for enabling an addiction. You could find yourself providing resources for your spouse’s addiction.

How Many Divorces Are Caused by Addiction?

There are roughly 24 million married Americans with a spouse struggling with addiction. It’s reported that 7.3% of marriages end in divorce due to substance use. Alcohol is one of the most popular substances in the world. Unfortunately, alcoholism and divorce are linked. 

Domestic violence and addiction parallel each other, which drives the rates of dysfunction among couples. Despite a partner seeking treatment, divorce can still occur. Addiction can exhaust the drives of marriage.

How Are Alcoholism And Divorce-Related?

Of the 15 million people who have an Alcohol Use Disorder, roughly 8% of them have sought addiction treatment. It should be noted that people react differently to alcohol. Alcoholism and divorce can drastically infuriate the marriage from within.

The spouse of the person with addiction typically endures heated arguments, risky behavior, and declining health. The neglect experienced during this period can create a storm of pain in the marriage.

According to American Addiction Centers, if one parent has an alcohol use disorder, the child is likely to develop one. Additionally, more than 10 million men and women will experience physical abuse from a partner. Severe alcohol use can leave the spouse prone to accidents.

What Are Some Addiction Treatment Options For My Spouse?

So, you and your spouse have agreed that treatment is the path for your healing. Your spouse will need a fortified support system as they grow through addiction recovery. This will serve as a gateway to learn.

Family involvement in the treatment process has shown effective outcomes. Understand that the stigma of addiction treatment does not reflect this courageous act. Reach out to a counselor or social worker to outline some options if you don’t know where to begin. 

If your spouse has to remain in a residence, they won’t have the ability to maintain their daily responsibilities. Make sure their work/school arrangements are met. It’s encouraged to contact your insurance provider about payment options. Research the facilities available in your area. 

Inpatient Treatment

Depending on the severity of the addiction, an inpatient treatment program may be the best option for all intensive care. Inpatient treatment programs for addiction are designed to provide a private, trigger-free experience for recovery. Your spouse struggling with addiction can expect to remain on the residence to maintain quality care.

After detox, they can expect to undergo psychotherapy such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and group/family therapy. This opportunity allows your spouse to communicate their plans for action and a chance to reflect on the root causes of their addiction. 

Outpatient Treatment

An outpatient treatment program is more suitable for those who can’t commit to an inpatient residence. Outpatient treatment programs are flexible options that provide regular sessions (5 days a week for 4-6 hours each) for patients who have to maintain certain responsibilities. This grants the patient the freedom to work and make it home to spend time with their loved ones.

A key benefit of outpatient treatment programs is the skills you’ll gain from treatment; embodying them when you exit the doors. Outpatient treatment programs offer psychotherapy as well, through individual and group therapy sessions. 


Aftercare may include resources such as support groups and sober living homes. It’s been reported that individuals who remain in some form of the continuum of care for addiction had higher rates of maintaining sobriety. Support groups offer you the opportunity to understand the depths of the addiction process through collaboration. 

Sober living homes accept those at any stage of recovery, although, it’s most beneficial for those who have transitioned from an inpatient treatment program. Sober living homes typically require you to have a form of income in exchange for recovery options.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If your partner has a mental health disorder and substance use disorder, a dual diagnosis treatment could enhance their chances of recovery. Treating both disorders is a significant aspect of the addiction recovery process. Dual diagnosis treatments are an emerging method considering the behavioral health changes in healthcare.

 If inadequate care is received by the patient, they will likely end up in the repetitive cycle of unhealthy coping mechanisms. People struggling with addiction often use substances or behaviors to cope with the stresses of life/trauma.

Recovery With Intrepid Detox

Addiction treatment should be accessible for all of those willing to rewrite their history. Addiction bleeds the mind into the body. Intrepid Detox dedicates our practice to the lifelong recovery process, providing the attention to detail you need. If your or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please reach out to one of our facilities today.