Guest Article by Caleb Anderson
One of the most difficult things you could ever experience is watching your loved one face addiction. While they struggle through mood swings, deteriorating friendships, and medical issues, you feel a sense of helplessness and loneliness. It feels like no one else could possibly understand your position or could say anything to help. You might even find yourself experiencing medical issues as well, due to the strain of carrying the weight of the family on your shoulders.
You are not alone. Over 14 million people who were 26 or older struggled with substance abuse in 2014. That leaves millions of loved ones to face the difficult task of coping with a relationship filled with the effects of addiction. Here are just a few of the ways you can cope with your spouse’s addiction.
Know How to Have Healthy Conversations
It might be a tough subject to bring up with an addict, but speak to your significant other about their addiction. First, consider the timing of the conversation. If they are still under the influence of drugs or alcohol, wait until they are completely sober. Keep your tone kind and loving, trying not to be demeaning or judgemental. Research a few local support groups to offer as suggestions. Community is key to supporting the healing process, especially since most addicts have relational deficiency from their time alone. Also think of a few close friends or family members you can trust who will be a listening ear for you, but who will not pressure the addict for immediate change.
Know When Separation is Necessary
Despite the intensity of the addiction or it’s symptoms, the idea of separation can be very painful. But sometimes temporarily separating is the most healthy option for healing. There is the obvious reason, which is the process of attending an overnight addiction recovery facility. But if they are not yet living in a treatment facility, there are still a few situations when separation is a viable and sometimes necessary option. It should be seriously considered in the case of a physically abusive partner, or if you realize you are becoming an enabler in their addiction issue.
Also, if there are children living in the same house as the person with the addiction, it is likely not a safe environment for them physically, or mentally. In this case, the child would be under the influence of their parent or guardian while that adult is under the influence of a substance. Seek out a temporary living situation, such as with a family member or friend, or consider asking a close friend to stay with your partner to monitor them while they are still in the recovery stages.
Counseling for You and for the Kids
Family counselors are prepared to handle a range of difficult situations and can discuss your specific situation with you in depth. Counseling might specifically be helpful for you in the case of infidelity. Drugs and alcohol affect people in different ways and if infidelity has been a byproduct of substance abuse in your relationship, counseling for you and your partner is the healthiest way to begin to heal. Check out this article for more information on how to move forward after an addicted partner is unfaithful.
Another method of therapy for you and the kids can be as simple as spending quality time together doing something you both enjoy. You can still have healthy family time together and allow them the freedom to have fun for a while without thinking about the issues in the home. A school counselor have a few tips to provide that you can implement in your home life.
There is no question that what you are facing is hard, but there is hope for recovery. Set aside some time to relax and rest in comfort with some friends and family while you take one day at a time. Speak to a pastor or a mentor about your options and restore your hope by learning to cope with your spouse’s addiction.