Substance abuse can eventually destroy a couple by undermining trust, which weakens the bond between partners. If children are part of the relationship, conflicts over parental responsibilities, neglect, or abuse often occur as a result of one partner’s or sometimes both partners’ drinking or drug use.
Learning how to help an addicted wife is the first step towards helping her recover from the cycle of substance abuse.
Whether the wife’s substance abuse problems are new or recurring, it is important for her partner to address the problem openly. Talking about addiction can be difficult, and it may feel safer to avoid the topic completely. However, it is a crucial first step to talk honestly to the abuser about how her behavior affects the family. Stay calm rather than accusatory or angry. The substance abuser needs to acknowledge that the problem is real, but she also needs to understand that there is hope for recovery. It is important for her to know she will have her family’s support during the recovery process.
During or after your wife’s recovery process, you can continue to learn how to help your addicted wife by repairing any underlying issues that may have contributed to her addiction. Support groups help the partners of addicts learn healthier ways to cope with life’s stresses. It is essential to create a strictly alcohol-free and drug-free environment at home. Recovery is an ongoing process, and the patient’s partner can help her stay on track and avoid potential triggers.
Alcohol and drugs can impair judgment, arouse feelings of anger and resentment, and create an atmosphere that leads to conflict at home. In the worst cases, these unmanageable emotions lead to violence, verbal and physical abuse, harm, and even death.
Offering support to an addicted partner can take a tremendous toll on your physical energy and emotional health. On top of this, the needs of the rest of the family, such as children and aging parents, and the demands of work and social commitments can quickly become overwhelming.
Behavioral Couples Therapy, or BCT, has evolved as an approach to treating substance abuse within a cohabiting partnership. BCT, which is typically offered to committed couples who have a strong emotional investment in improving their relationship, helps partners address the dysfunctional patterns that sustain addiction. The therapeutic goals of BCT include enhancing relationship function and promoting recovery through the following steps:
-Improving problem-solving skills
-Improving communication skills
-Increasing caring behaviors
-Developing a program for treatment and recovery
-Creating a recovery contract
-Supporting self-help in both partners
BCT can be applied as part of an inpatient substance abuse treatment program or through outpatient therapy sessions. The core strategies of BCT have been applied through other therapeutic approaches to provide similar benefits.
Emotionally Focused Therapy, or EFT, has also been applied successfully to help couples recover from the distress caused by addiction. In EFT, the therapist works with the couple to help them regulate their emotions, strengthen their attachment, and ultimately deepen their emotional bond. Through this approach, partners learn how to replace negative behaviors, such as criticism, hostility, or defensiveness, with positive interactions that promote caring and mutual support.
Support groups can be a critical source of emotional strength for the spouse of a person in recovery. By connecting with other individuals who have gone through the same experiences, partners can learn new coping strategies and acquire a sense of hope for the future. Support groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are based on the 12-Step principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. Through these confidential groups, members gather and work on a one-on-one basis with a sponsor to build inner strength and learn how to detach lovingly from the struggles of others.
Membership is free; participants are asked only to make a small monetary donation and to contribute some of their time to group activities.
Al-Anon and other 12-Step groups are based on a spiritual approach to recovery, and members are encouraged to seek support from a higher power of their own choosing. These groups are non denominational, and no preference is shown for any organized religion.
For those who prefer a secular approach to recovery, support groups like SMART Recovery, Rational Recovery, and Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) offer non religious programs that are available in many communities. In addition, nondenominational self-help groups or group counseling services are available through community centers, mental health services, and private therapists. Many rehab facilities offer support groups and other services through their alumni programs, for clients and their loved ones who have been through treatment.
Participation can take the form of attending meetings with a partner, attending meetings alone or volunteering for activities with the group within the community. Regardless of which approach to recovery you and your partner choose secular or spiritual consistent participation and commitment to the process of recovery is essential for maintaining the benefits of rehab. Create an Environment that Sustains there Recovery.
In healthy relationships partners are able to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs about issues, providing a map for what works with each partner. Couples develop ways to support each other, while at the same time maintain healthy boundaries and good self-care. Respectfully acknowledging each other’s perspectives increases trust, creates a direction for going forward, and integrates and balances personal and relationship needs.
Through scientific research, we now know more than ever about how drugs work in the brain, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives.
If you think your loved one might be addicted, you cannot fix the problem by yourself, but there are some steps you can take. If the person is willing to explore the issue, refer him or her to this page. Offer to walk the person through the information and to help access the resources.
If the person is initially not willing to be helped, you can read the information below to learn more about drug addiction and to see if there are resources or information that might convince him or her to seek help.