One of the beautiful things about having a spouse or partner is the element of choice. We do not get to choose our parents or siblings, but we get to choose who we end up with, and with this choice comes a lot of responsibility.
Most often than not, we choose our partners based on love or the idea of it. While this isn’t bad, we will have to live with the consequences of our actions. Addiction may not be visible to you at the point of a partner. It may not even be present at the beginning of your relationship, but it may crop up later, and this may be destructive depending on how you respond to it.
Addiction typically blocks out everything else because it needs to be fed. This means your once lovable and charming spouse may start jettisoning your relationship just to keep up with the addiction. It may be difficult to hang in there and be a loving spouse, but here’s some advice to keep you going.
1. Do not live in denial
Many people do not get the help they need because they have refused to identify that they have a problem. Living in denial means actively ignoring the facts or blatantly turning a blind eye to the fact that your spouse or partner is having addiction problems. This is called enabling behavior, and it is common with spouses and family members. This kind of behavior includes absolving your addicted spouse of responsibilities, allowing emotional or physical abuse to you or your children, and making excuses for your spouse in public or gatherings. One of the ways to deal with spousal addiction is to identify the problem head-on and recognize that you need help then you can seek such help.
2. Understand their situation
When dealing with addiction of this nature, it is easy to trade blames and lash out at your spouse for their lack of willpower. This happens if they neglect their responsibilities or fail at them every day. What you must understand is that addiction is not created by a lack of willpower, but is a function of the brain. Some addictions are brought on by a necessity. For example, someone can get hooked on painkillers following an accident and suddenly does not know how to live without them. Now, even when there is willpower to stop the abuse of such drugs, the body and brain may complicate things. When you understand that addiction reprograms the brain, you may understand why your spouse acts the way they do.
3. Encourage treatment
When you understand how addiction works, it is easier to encourage treatment. This is because when addiction reprograms the brain, it also creates the falsehood that everything is under control and that they don’t need any help. This and the fear of the emotional and mental breakdown they would face will make your spouse refuse treatment. This is where helping with a partner will come in handy. Nothing will beat your encouragement, support, and getting the help of an addiction professional, and though it might be difficult, it is all worth it in the end.
4. Forging Ahead
Living with an addicted spouse will take its toll on you. You will have more of your spouse’s responsibilities fall on you, and like the human that you are, you will cave. It is normal to feel frustrated and angry or even sad and depressed. This situation will require that you seek help so that you can learn how to live with your spouse and deal with your situation. There will be bouts of anxiety mixed with fear of the unknown when they don’t come home early or fear of relapse even when you both are actively seeking help, and you may fall into the co-dependency mode. You will second guess every decision they make and have panic attacks now and then.
You should also understand that addiction, depending on its nature, does not go away overnight or within a fortnight. If your spouse is opposed to change, it may even take months before you begin to see some behavioral changes. The effects of living like this are enormous but can be managed with help. You will need to consider support groups and support from your family members and loved ones to get your spouse through this phase.
Recovering from spousal addiction is more communal because you and the children (if any) equally need recovery as well. There are support programs for spouses or partners of recovering addicts, and this might meet you well and help you recover from all the mental and psychological trauma you may have incurred. Every relationship is hard work, and yours is no different but whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.