Addiction is a prevalent issue in the United States, affecting about 21 million Americans every year. Watching a spouse struggle with an addiction can be difficult. There is, of course, the concern for the addict’s health and wellbeing, but there is a toll that is often paid on the mental and physical health of the spouse trying to support the addict through their struggle. It is important that spouses of current addicts find ways to cope during the turmoil of their spouse’s addiction in order for their physical and mental health to not become collateral damage in the process. Here a few ways to cope when your spouse is abusing substances.

Find Your Sources of Support

Just as your spouse needs support, so do you. Identify trusted family members and friends that you can turn to when you are feeling both emotionally drained and elated about progress. This allows for you to have a third party to bounce ideas off of when your brain may feel backed against a wall as well as someone to celebrate with, even if it’s a small victory. Also, consider joining a community or therapy group for spouses of addicts. Talking with individuals who have lived and are currently living a similar experience can help you to feel less alone.

Educate Yourself

You may feel you know everything about addiction from watching your spouse’s struggle. However, addiction is a complicated disease and by understanding the nature of the disease it can help you to better support your spouse, understand what things are normal and possibly better understand the process of addiction and recovery. Individuals married to addicts can experience a lot of confusion, especially in regards to recovery and relapse. Educating yourself can help you be prepared for all possible issues addiction can pose on your spouse and your relationship.

Learn When Enough Is Enough

Spouses of addicts often enable their spouse’s addiction and bad behavior as a result out of fear that if they put their foot down it could cause an adverse effect on their spouse and their relationship. The problem with addiction is that it brings down everyone close to the addict as well, and until someone says enough and chooses to put themselves first, the cycle will continue. You must learn your breaking point and when to say enough is enough. It could be something as simple as getting a separate bank account and not providing your spouse money when they ask for it, or it can be something as major asking for separation until your spouse enters recovery. Whatever your breaking point is, make sure to stand your ground and honor your decision. It will be better for your mental health in the long run.

It can be difficult to know what to do when your spouse is struggling with an addiction. The process can be confusing and overwhelming. Making sure to find your support system and determining when enough is enough is very important. It is also important that you educate yourself in regards to all aspects of addiction, including the disease itself, and recovery. Also, make sure to educate yourself on community resources such as rehab and detox centers, a criminal defense attorney, agencies that allow community service for drug offenders and local substance abuse support groups. Have these on hand to help support your spouse throughout each stage of their addiction. Having a concrete plan of action and coping mechanisms in place can make it easier for you to support your spouse through their process.

Author's Bio: 

Emma is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2