Margo Dill


Treatment and Recovery Advice for Couples Affected by Addiction

Here is a guest post by Julie Morris, who is a life and career coach. Check her services out here

Discovering that your spouse is an addict may bring up overwhelming emotions of anger, betrayal and guilt that maybe you enabled or caused them to get addicted. You may wonder whether there is hope for recovery and how you can help your beloved to recover. Addiction recovery is possible, and a spouse plays a key role in their partner’s recovery.

Discovering addiction in a loved one

In most cases, a spouse discovers that their partner is addicted before their loved one accepts the addiction. It could be something you have suspected for weeks, months or even years.

Some signs of addiction include unexplained weight loss within a short period, loss of interest in appearance, unusual hyperactivity or lethargy, habitual lying, defensiveness and paranoia.  In the case of addiction to prescribed drugs, you may notice extra pill bottles in the garbage, or your partner may be taking more than the prescribed dosage of the particular drug. Unexplained financial issues may be an indicator of an addiction problem, as your partner may be using the money to purchase their drug of choice.

Opiate addiction among seniors

Prescription drug abuse among seniors has increased in the last decade, and is expected to  skyrocket in the coming one. Opioids are among the most abused prescription drugs among people in this age bracket. This can be attributed to the prevalence of chronic diseases among seniors who are put on pain management drugs such as opioids. If opioid administration is not well-monitored by a doctor, one may end up using them too frequently, eventually becoming dependent on them.

Opiate addiction among seniors can often go unnoticed, because in most cases, your spouse may already be exhibiting addiction-like symptoms such as nausea, drowsiness, and constricted pupils from their preexisting chronic illness. If you suspect opiate addiction in your spouse, it is important to speak to your spouse’s doctor about it. When left unattended, opiate addiction can worsen the existing chronic illness.

Helping a loved one get treatment

After discovering that your partner is an addict, the next step is intervention. However, you must proceed with caution. Choose an ideal time to bring up the issue, like a time when your partner’s mood is calm and your children are not present. Bring up the issue in a non-accusatory way.

Your spouse might deny their addiction or respond violently. In case your partner’s response is hostile, back away from the conversation and ensure you are safe. However, do not give up. Consider finding an interventionist who can lead the conversation to a peaceful resolution.

Consult with an addiction specialist to explore the treatment options available for the drug or substance your partner is using. Some common options include checking into a rehabilitation center, individual therapy, group therapy, support groups such as Alcoholic Anonymous, and codependency support.

Healing as a couple

When your spouse is addicted, you, too, are dealing with it. Therefore, a sustainable recovery approach is one that factors you in, especially during aftercare treatment. There are a number of treatments available for couples. These include general group therapy, addiction-focused couples’ therapy, family therapy and individual therapy.

You can integrate two or more therapies depending on what works best.  You and your spouse can incorporate separate individual therapy alongside couples’ sessions. If you have children, incorporate family therapy sessions too.

Attend peer support groups together or separately. Addiction can be isolating for both of you. When you join a support group, you realize that there are many other couples going through a similar situation. If you feel that your spouse’s addiction and recovery is taking a toll on you, it may be best to separate. Educate yourself about the various aspects of addiction treatment and recovery. Your research will help you better understand your partner’s recovery journey, and help you discover ways you can best support him or her.

Addiction undermines the foundation of a marriage. However, there is a chance that you can work together with your spouse to overcome the addiction and rebuild your marriage. The key is to find professional help, for each of you individually and together as a couple.


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