Learn / How To Deal With My Husband’s Addiction

How To Deal With My Husband’s Addiction

Grace Ogren
 April 18th, 2024|   Clinically Reviewed by 
Dr. Malasri Chaudhery-Malgeri, Ph.D.

Key Points

  • Spouses aren't meant to heal their loved one.
  • They can offer support and encouragement, and get support for themselves.
  • Addiction requires professional treatment, which can include couples counseling.

Dealing with a loved one’s addiction has no set blueprint, but learning how to cope with your husband’s addiction can help you both heal. Addiction’s deep roots and substantial impacts on life can make dealing with it feel impossible. But with the right treatment and support, you and your husband can find recovery.

What Should I Do About My Husband Being Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol?

If your husband is addicted to drugs or alcohol, know you can’t force them to get better. You can support them in their treatment journey, offer encouragement, and set boundaries, but you can’t cure them. That’s okay; you’re not meant to

What you should or shouldn’t do also depends on your unique situation. Spouses in abusive relationships may not feel safe acknowledging their husband’s addiction or suggesting they get treatment. If you’re in an abusive relationship, you have several resources for help. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Sexual Assault Hotline, and 911 (or your local emergency number) if you’re in imminent danger. 

Some spouses may feel comfortable with a direct, confrontational approach. How you go about it can differ widely from one relationship to the next. Your unique relationship can determine what you do and don’t do about your husband’s addiction. Here are a few examples:

Have a Discussion About Getting Help

You can raise your concerns during a conversation. For example, you could say:

“I’ve noticed you’re drinking more and regularly getting tipsy or drunk. I don’t think this is good for you, and it makes me uncomfortable. I want to help you get help. What do you think about starting treatment?”

In this discussion, you can gauge their willingness to seek treatment. Be sure you tell your husband how their drinking affects you, your relationship, and the children you may have. Let them know you’re there to support and encourage them through treatment.

Set Boundaries and Avoid Enabling

You likely spend a lot of time with your husband. They live with you, see you daily, and may also parent with you. It’s natural to want to help them in any way you can, but that can lead to enabling behaviors and the loss of your personal boundaries.

You can prevent this by setting healthy boundaries as soon as you can. Establish immediately that you won’t cover their absences, give them money, or make excuses for their behavior. That can help keep your time and emotional wellness intact. You can also refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. 

Giving money, making excuses, or taking on their responsibilities can enable your husband’s addiction. Doing so can make them feel more comfortable not seeking treatment or help.

How to Cope with Husband’s Addiction

Coping strategies can help you stay mentally well. Remember, your coping strategies are to help you cope, not your husband. You’re not responsible for fixing them. What you can do is help yourself; that way, you’ll be in a place to offer support and encouragement.

Spend Time With Them Mindfully

Be watchful of the time you spend with your husband. If they’re actively addicted to drugs or alcohol, spending all your free time with them may negatively impact your mental health. Time away from them can help you set priorities and stay aware of your emotions and feelings. 

Practice Self-Care

Maintaining a self-care regime can help you cope with your husband’s addiction. Self-care could look different for everyone. Examples include:

  • Time set aside for your hobbies and interests
  • Taking care of your body–skincare, exercise, and good sleep
  • Meeting up with friends and loved ones
  • Making yourself nutritious meals and stay hydrated

Get Professional Treatment

Going to therapy can help you cope with your husband’s addiction. Your therapist or counselor can help you process challenges, create a toolset of coping skills, and help you formulate action plans. Loved ones can also join family support groups to connect with other families.

Discover Support for Family Members

Spouses and other family members have options for support. Peer groups meet worldwide to connect, offer encouragement, and share in each other’s challenges. One of these groups is Al-Anon, created for the loved ones of alcoholics. It follows a similar structure of AA/NA meetings.

Family members can also join Nar-Anon, which supports family members of someone struggling with a drug addiction. Learn to Cope offers peer support in person and online. SMART Recovery (non-12-Step) also has groups and resources for families.

In these groups, you’ll meet with other family members and a facilitator will lead the group. You’ll have the chance to share your experiences, offer and receive support, and find encouragement in shared struggles. Your groups may have a theme, like processing grief or trauma from your loved one’s addiction, or be a more broad sharing experience.

You could also find support groups in your local community. Some community centers, churches, or religious organizations have family peer support groups. Check your local resources (webpage for your city, social media groups) to see what’s available. 

You can also attend family therapy with your husband. Many treatment centers offer this service to help you and your spouse heal together. You can also attend family therapy in an outpatient setting.

Treatment Options for Your Husband’s Addiction

When your husband feels ready and committed to treatment, they’ll have many options to choose from. His clinical needs, history of substance use, and preferences determine which level of care will be the best fit. His doctor can assess his current state with addiction and recommend a level of care, or staff at a rehabilitation center may make the assessment before admitting your husband into treatment.

Questions to Ask Your Provider

Your husband can ask several questions at the initial doctor’s appointment to clarify his needs and treatment pathway. Here are a few to keep in mind as he embarks on this journey:

  1. What level of care would suit my situation and symptoms best?
  2. Do I have a co-occurring mental health condition?
  3. Will medications improve my symptoms, and would you recommend them?
  4. What are the potential side effects of those medications?
  5. Will I need to detox?
  6. What other care options and resources would you recommend?

Levels of Care for Addiction

Many people begin their treatment journey in detox to rid their bodies of addictive substances safely. Some people won’t need detox; it’s always best to let your doctor or a treatment facility decide. From there, your husband may progress through each level of care or start and stop at one level.

  • Detox: a safe, monitored phase where your husband will stop taking substances and let them clear from his system. Medications can make this process safer and more comfortable. It’s not recommended to detox at home since detoxing can cause potentially harmful withdrawal symptoms.
  • Residential Treatment: live-in treatment with 24/7 monitoring, structured schedules, and onsite treatment. Your husband will attend various therapies to address the root cause of their addiction. Many residential rehabs allow family visits and provide family therapy.
  • Day Treatment: your husband will live at home or in a sober living residence (living in a house with other peers in sobriety; strict no-substance rules) and attend about 30 hours of weekly treatment. 
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): similar to day treatment, but your husband will spend less time in treatment. Some IOPs have day or evening programs for greater flexibility. He’ll spend about 20 hours in weekly treatment and have more time for work and family.  
  • General Outpatient: two or three weekly therapy sessions, usually in a group setting. Your husband will live at home or in sober living.

Locate a Detox Center

Detox may be the first step in your husband’s recovery journey. It can also be the first step to a healthier marriage and improved mental health. Detox centers have experience detoxing clients from alcohol and a wide range of illegal and prescribed drugs. 
To find a detox center, use Recovery.com to browse detox centers in your area and view photos, insurance information, and reviews.

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