Drug addiction affects everyone in an addict's life. The struggle they go through bleeds into the relationships they hold dear. Marriages are tested with everyone asking: can a marriage survive drug addiction? The answer is more complicated than yes or no.
Being a first responder is stressful. They put their lives on the line daily. A spouse’s life is also stressful. They are always wondering if their husband or wife will walk through the front door each day.
Add in other issues in a marriage. Throw in the stresses of the spouse's job, taking care of the kids, helping their parents, and more. These problems add up, causing so much tension that your partner has to find ways to blow off steam. Sometimes it leads to drug addiction.
It's hard for marriage to survive drug addiction. We won't lie to you about that. Both parties are struggling on different levels. Pile on the everyday issues you might be facing in your marriage, and you're fighting an uphill battle. But it is a battle you can fight and win.
Most Common Signs of Drug Addiction in a Marriage
As the husband or wife of a first responder, you might not know how your spouse deals with their issues on top of relationship issues. If they have turned to drugs to cope, knowing the signs of drug addiction in a relationship can help you save your marriage and help your spouse seek treatment. As an addict, you might not see these things yourself until your spouse does.
Here are some of the most common signs your spouse may be struggling with drug addiction:
- They're disconnected from what's going on day-to-day, such as not knowing your schedule, forgetting to pick up the kids from school, or missing anniversaries.
- Money may be missing from joint bank accounts or retirement funds. Credit card purchases might be higher than normal.
- Your spouse's priorities have changed. You or your kids may be an afterthought.
- They're having work issues, such as being late, not showing up, or hiding disciplinary actions from you.
- Your spouse is spending more time away from you and your family. They may not come home at regular hours or have sudden changes in work schedules without explanation.
- Safety concerns and odd behavior might make you wonder why your spouse is acting weird. They might drive drunk or high. They might put you, children, or pets in danger.
These are just some of the warning sides of how drug addiction can impact a marriage. Trust your gut and how your spouse is acting. You know them the best.
While drug abuse and substance use disorders may lead to divorce, if you truly love your husband or wife, addiction recovery is the next step in ending the chaos you both are experiencing.
Getting Help for Drug Addiction
When you or your spouse is actively fighting addiction, they may be doing things you can't deal with or handle. You may not understand what the other side is going through. You may ignore it or pretend things are better than they are. These are normal reactions to dealing with the marriage fallout from addiction.
As a Drug Addict
As a drug addict, you must admit you have a problem or need help. You must decide you want to try and get better. Whatever treatment may look like for you, you must decide to fight for yourself and your marriage. This is easier said than done.
The addicted spouse needs to learn coping skills to deal with the addiction itself and everything else contributing to it. For first responders, this could be post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues from the job. Learning how to cope with what you face during the day is one of the first steps to ensuring you have the skills needed to overcome active addiction. With the proper resources, you can overcome drug use and habits to save your marriage.
These are skills an addict needs to be able to rely on themselves. They can't rely on their spouse to always lift them when they have a bad day or work is stressful. While their partner can support them, they need to be able to do it themselves, too.
Sobriety is in your hands. Your spouse can't stop you from what the disease of addiction is doing to you. They can't force you into treatment. They can't cure your addiction. You must want to get clean or sober because you want to do it – no matter how much they love you or how much they support you, you're the only one who can beat drug addiction.
As a Spouse
As the spouse of a drug addict, you need to educate yourself on how addiction works, how it impacts your family, and what your husband or wife is going through. You need to support your spouse, but you must give them the space they need to accept and move forward on their own. You will not cure your spouse; you will not save them from their addiction. They can only save themselves, but you can be there to support them along the way.
There is only so much a spouse can do other than being there for their partner. Working with them to understand how you can support them is critical. Additionally, developing coping skills will be essential for you to handle the aftermath of your spouse's drug addiction now and in the future.
Here are some dos and don'ts for supporting your spouse:
- DO help yourself and your family members. Join support groups if they will help. Get therapy for yourself and your kids. Al-Anon, family therapy, new hobbies, and ensuring counselors are part of your children's lives are crucial to everyone finding new ways to cope.
- DO take part in marriage counseling when your spouse is ready. Learn how to support one another again with the help of a professional. Let go of the strain, resentment, and loneliness you both are going through during this process.
- DO show your spouse you love them without judging them during bad moments (for example, your spouse passes out on the floor, consider covering them with a blanket but don't mention where you found them).
- DO be honest about your feelings about what's going on - set boundaries for one another. Encourage intervention, getting professional help, and consider treatment programs focused on battling addiction symptoms for your spouse.
- DON’T make excuses for what your spouse is going through. Enabling them doesn't help them. Denial doesn't help you.
- DON’T drink or use drugs around them.
- DON’T blame yourself or your spouse for their addiction. It won’t help either of you.
Marriages face drug addiction every day in homes across the United States. Realizing that other spouses are helping their families fight this battle means you're not alone.
Saving Your Marriage from Drug Addiction
When you love someone, you want to do everything you can to show them you love them. When you or your spouse is battling drug addiction, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But y can save your marriage, whether you're fighting addiction or you're supporting someone who is.
It starts with getting help – helping the one battling addiction and helping the spouse support them. Healthy relationships have trials and tribulations. They have ups and downs. Compromise, communication, boundaries, and more are needed in a healthy marriage.
You can fight for your marriage; it can survive drug addiction. If you or your first responder is battling drug addiction, First Responders First has your six. Our addiction treatment services will help your family face this head-on. Contact us today and let us help you and your partner on the road to recovery.