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Partner or Spouse - abusing drugs or alcohol

What to do if your spouse is abusing alcohol or drugs

You’ve watched your husband or wife struggle with an addiction to alcohol or drugs. You’ve seen them become dependent on substances, and seen how it has affected their life and your relationship. Most likely, you feel powerless when it comes to helping your spouse recognize that a problem even exists.

Watching a spouse battle an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be difficult, especially if you have children. Finding a way to help your spouse isn’t always easy, but there are some things you can do to get your husband or wife the alcohol or drug addiction treatment they need to end their addiction and get their life back on track.

 

Talk to Your Wife or Husband

Talking to your spouse about a potential problem with drugs or alcohol can be scary. You don’t want to make accusations that will cause them to become upset with you, or that are unwarranted. Find an appropriate time to talk to your spouse and start by telling them what you have observed instead of making any accusations. Try to use a tone that is non-judgmental and supportive. Ask questions and let your spouse feel as though you genuinely want to know what the answers are.

One of the most important steps to getting your spouse help will be to
get them to admit they have a problem with drugs or alcohol.

It may take them some time to come to terms with this, so keep the dialogue open until it happens. Stress that you will be there to support your spouse through recovery, and that they will not be alone in their efforts.

Research what drug treatment facilities there are available and the different types of programs that are offered. Your local Toughlove group should be able to assist you. Before you even talk to your spouse, it may be a good idea to see what options there are for addiction treatment facilities. That way you will be more informed when you talk to your spouse and can gently bring the idea of going to addiction treatment into the conversation. For the early detoxification and first 30-60 days of sobriety it is recommended that the recovering individual go to a primary care centre.

Take some time to find out what types of addiction treatment facilities are available near you. A good place to start is on the Toughlove website www.toughlove.org.za . Learn the difference between inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab, and talk with your spouse about which option might work best. Most addiction treatment facilities have a toll-free number that you can call to receive information confidentially. Doing that can give you an idea of what types of treatment options are available and how addictions are treated.

Get help yourself. Part of addiction treatment for your spouse will involve you getting the support you need as well. Your spouse’s addiction has likely affected your life in ways you may not have anticipated.

Many addiction treatment centers offer family support as part of the recovery process, but more importantly attend your local Toughlove support group on a regular basis. This can be important to helping you and your spouse work through issues caused by their addiction and finding ways to help your spouse stay sober once they return home.

You can also get support through a group like Al-Anon and Narc-Anon, both of which offer support to family and friends of people battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Family SA (FAMSA) would be another option for counselling.

Do Not Hesitate

The important thing is that you should not wait.  When people look back at the recovery process in hindsight, the most painful part is before they picked up the phone and asked for help.  The act of seeking help starts a chain reaction of recovery and the relief can be immediate.