If your husband is struggling with addiction, you likely go through the full spectrum of emotions on a regular basis. People who suffer from substance use disorders can be incredibly fun, exciting and passionate, with the ability to draw you in. On the other side of the coin, they can be belligerent and irresponsible and engage in risky behavior. They often go through a cycle of saying they’re going to change and falling back into the old routine after a few weeks or months of making an effort.
First, you need to stop thinking you can fix them yourself. Even if you were a qualified health care professional, it wouldn’t be advisable to treat a loved one or someone close to you. Listen to your partner but don’t live your entire life around them, and advise them to seek professional help. When they’re on the road to recovery, be positive about the changes and help them to remember that addiction is a chronic disease.
Listen Carefully and Give Clear, Consistent Advice
Try to get your partner to open up about how they’re feeling and let them know they can speak openly to you without judgment. Substance use disorders are driven by a variety of factors, including genetics and childhood experiences, but repressed fears and feelings are often triggering.
Conduct plenty of research into the mechanisms behind alcohol and drug addiction and share what you’ve learned, but don’t be prescriptive. Explain that professional help is the best method of dealing with addiction, and let him know you’ll be there to support him through the recovery process.
Take Care of Yourself and Pursue Your Own Hobbies
While the above is the best way to help your husband, you mustn’t dedicate your entire life to trying to get him into recovery. Make sure you have a group of friends, hobbies or anything to pass your time 100% away from your husband’s condition. If your entire life is about him, you’re likely to build resentment and risk losing your own identity to his addiction.
Don't Play the Blame Game
It’s easy to get into arguments with someone whose mind is addled with substances, but these exchanges are always futile. If you use blame or anger to express yourself, the subject of your irritation is incredibly unlikely to listen to you. This will frustrate you further and make you angrier, and they’ll become defensive and indignant — neither of which is conducive to recovery.
Take a deep breath and count to 10, take some exercise or speak to a friend if they display any provocative behavior. Just don’t engage with it — remain calm and they won’t be able to use your anger as an excuse to use substances.
Avoid Enabling Behavior
Enabling behavior refers to the attempts you might make to solve, fix or make the consequences of your husband’s actions go away. Examples of enabling include:
- Lying to their employer to cover up an absence
- Making excuses for their behavior
- Giving them money
- Fulfilling their commitments