There are sometimes people in our lives who feel like they know us better than we know ourselves, and spouses are perhaps the most common example here. In cases where one member of a marriage or relationship is being affected by drug or alcohol addiction, a spouse can often be a very helpful person with things like recognition of the issue, long-term support and more.

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we provide caring alcohol and drug addiction recovery programs throughout Boise, Washington and Oregon. We know that spouses can often play a big supportive role for substance abuse recovery, often one that includes helping convince their loved one to take part in an addiction recovery program. Here are some basics on how substance abuse can impact marriages and relationships, some signs your spouse may be dealing with addiction, and healthy ways to raise the issue with them and, hopefully, move them toward helpful treatment.

How Substance Abuse Can Impact Marriages and Relationships

For marriages and long-term relationships, addiction can be an incredibly difficult issue to manage. The substance abuse does not just affect the user – it also impacts the spouse or significant other in a variety of ways.

For instance, if your partner is abusing drugs or alcohol, they may be more likely to become easily irritated or angry with you. They could even become violent or verbally aggressive. This can result in a lot of stress and tension on the relationship, often leading to communication breakdowns and even physical separation in some cases.

In addition, addiction often takes up a tremendous amount of time and energy from both partners. The addicted partner may always be preoccupied with obtaining drugs or alcohol, while the non-addicted partner may often become consumed with worrying about their loved one or trying to monitor and contain the addiction. This can lead to both partners feeling frustrated, helpless, neglected or rejected.

Issues of Co-Dependency and Enablement

Furthermore, there are many cases where the non-addicted partner may become co-dependent or unwittingly enable their addicted spouse. Co-dependency is a situation in which one partner constantly puts the needs of the other before their own, resulting in an unhealthy pattern of codependent behavior that can be difficult to break out of without help from an addiction expert.

Enablement occurs when a partner indirectly enables the addiction through behaviors like apologizing for their partner, covering up problems or lying to protect them from facing consequences. Both of these situations are common in marriages and relationships affected by drug or alcohol addiction, so it’s important to be aware of them and how they can contribute to further decline in the relationship.

Signs Your Spouse May be Dealing With Addiction

Though drug and alcohol abuse can manifest differently in each person, there are a few common signs that may indicate addiction. Here are some to look out for:

  • Major mood changes: Keep an eye out for sudden and dramatic changes in your spouse’s mood or behavior, from the way they act around you to the way they talk about themselves.
  • Unexplained absences: If your spouse is suddenly absent without explanation more frequently than usual, that could be a sign of addiction.
  • Trouble with finances: When a spouse is struggling with addiction, spending money on drugs or alcohol could be the cause of sudden financial issues or an inability to save.
  • Health problems: Long-term substance abuse can lead to a variety of health issues that are important to keep an eye out for.
  • Lacking self-care: If your partner is neglecting their personal hygiene, not eating well, or sleeping more than usual, it could be a sign of addiction.

Healthy Ways to Raise the Issue With Your Spouse

If you are worried that your spouse may be struggling with addiction, it can be difficult to start a conversation on the topic. At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we recommend you approach the topic in a gentle, compassionate and non-accusatory way. Let your spouse know that you love them and want to help, and try to focus on moving forward with solutions rather than dwelling on what has already happened.

It is important that your spouse knows they have your support throughout the entire recovery process, so open and honest communication is key. They need to know that you are there for them and will not judge them.

Recommending Treatment Programs

During these conversations, you may want to recommend treatment options like residential or outpatient programs that can help your spouse recover from addiction. Finding a quality and reputable treatment program is essential, as it can be the difference between successful recovery or ongoing relapse.

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we understand the unique needs of couples affected by drug and alcohol addiction, and our therapists are trained to help you both get through this difficult time. We offer a range of treatments tailored to meet the needs of all couples, whether it’s cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or marriage counseling. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your relationship, or about any of our addiction recovery services in Boise, Washington or Oregon.