Recent world events have led to high levels of stress and misery. Managing these worries can lead to relationship damage, destructive behaviors, and addictions over time. If you have a loved one who is struggling and heading into dangerous territory, both of you will need help. How to Cope with my spouse’s addiction? Education is critical, as is knowing the difference between helping and enabling.
Protecting yourself and your family will be more of a challenge as the addiction consumes more and more of your spouse’s focus. This is because addiction is more than craving and fulfillment. The illness of addiction actually alters the function of the brain. An addicted spouse who used to have the emotional energy to care for children at the end of a workday may no longer have patience or even appear to be interested. An addicted spouse who used to care about the work of your partnership, such as budgeting and home maintenance, may become secretive and destructive instead of supportive and caring. Finally, an addicted spouse may become dangers to you and your children.
Detox, Therapy, and Private Counseling
Depending on the amount of time your spouse has been using and the drugs involved, a physical detox may be necessary. A monitored detox, under carefully controlled conditions, is critical for their safety and yours. Detox is extremely hard on the body and may be fatal if your spouse is not fully supported. Do not attempt this as a family.
The next step is to undergo therapy. As noted above, addiction changes the brain while it damages the body and destroys relationships. Using an addictive drug creates pathways that have become automatic. Once the body has been detoxed from the drug and your spouse’s physical health is improving, the brain pathways that made the addictive drug a necessary part of living are still there. Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help your spouse understand their triggers and allow them to build new “if-then scenarios” to help them alter those brain paths and see new options. Therapy for you and your children is also a strong possibility. Addiction is a trap and an illness that impacts all involved. Everyone’s lives get smaller when there’s an addict in the house. If you don’t know that you can depend on your addicted spouse, you will alter your behavior to best support your children and yourself. Your children may understand that things are changing but not why. Your entire family may be struggling with concepts and changes that are larger than they can grasp. Some families actually learn to function as though the addict is not there, simply because they cannot be depended on to respond regularly in a reliable manner. Nobody in the house is served by this relationship alteration.
Additionally, you will want to look into family therapy as a group. As the addicted spouse pulls away from the family, or as members of the family back away from the addicted spouse in a self-protective choice, relationships can wither away. Rebuilding these connections with the help of a caring counselor can help to clear away the resentments and tough emotions that can be created as a barrier to further hurt. If your children have turned away from your spouse to avoid the uncertainty that relying on an addict can create, the addicted spouse may feel isolated and alone while the child is confused and hurt. All of this isolation is destructive, both to child and parent. Professional family counseling can help to make new connections.
Addiction changes the brain. The ability to celebrate a truly joyful emotion, maintain a strong relationship, and give freely of their time and love may no longer be possible for the addicted spouse. This leads to isolation, resentment, and a withering of formerly strong connections. Often, this isolation leads the addict to rely ever more heavily on the drug, simply because the results from using the drug are consistent and pleasurable, or at least result in less pain. If your relationship is falling apart because of addiction, it’s time to act. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 833-820-2922 for a conversation that can benefit all of your family members, protect relationships and support your spouse effectively.