This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever, a world-leading addictions specialist.
Are you married to a drug addict? Does your spouse deny the fact that they are addicted to drugs? Is your marriage being ruined because your partner is addicted to drugs? Are you wondering what you should do? Perhaps you should read this article. Marriage can seem like a fairytale till the problems start popping up. More so, when you realise that the love of your life is a drug addict and there seems to be nothing you can do about it. It is more frightening and disturbing when you realise it could have been happening before you got married. But what should you do? Do you jump ship or endure? Let’s discuss.
How Do I Know My Spouse Is A Drug Addict?
Drug addicts usually hide their activities because they do not want anyone finding out, especially when they have significant others who disapprove of such behaviours. Aside from that fact, they may go to lengths to hide the addiction when they are “doing” illegal drugs. The situation is the same when they large amounts of legal drugs without any prescription.
If your spouse is doing drugs, chances are they are doing their best to hide it from you. There are, however, some signs you could look out for to help you know for sure if your spouse is a drug addict or not. Some of these signs include:
- Isolating themselves and withdrawing from social activities
- Unexplained recurrent health problems
- Forgetting things frequently, experiencing confusion and inability to stay focused.
- Exhibiting reckless and risk behaviours.
- Repeatedly lying even without any logical reasons to
- Always running low on cash without any logical explanations.
Please note; that your partner may exhibit at least one of these symptoms without necessarily meaning they are abusing drugs; however, a combination of many of the symptoms stated here could only mean that they are abusing drugs. If you suspect that your partner is abusing drugs, kindly reach us on 0203 955 7700.
Why Drugs Could Be Making Your Partner Act Differently
When an individual becomes addicted to drugs, their behaviours change. This does not happen just under the influence of the drugs but also when they are fully in control of their thoughts. Sometimes, they might seem selfish because they are fixated on achieving their next “high” experience. This fixation can put them in a place where they constantly seem like they are thinking about themselves only with little to no consideration for other family members.
The person might quickly squander family expenses and funds that may have been saved up over the years in a short time because they are trying to achieve a fix. They might not be honest about it in the beginning and might tell several lines. However, you would be able to read through the lines eventually since their lies will catch up to them. Addiction comes with the solid compulsion to always satisfy urges which might explain your spouses’ impulsive behaviour.
Aside from these factors, the individual might also experience behavioural changes due to the effects of the drugs on their brain. This will be highly dependent on the nature and types of drugs they are abusing. Some drugs can alter moods, perception, personality, and thought processes, which affects the individual’s behaviour abusing them.
If your spouse was not abusing drugs when you met, then the sudden change in their behaviour can be attributed to the addiction they have recently been subjected to.
The Marriage And The Drug Addict
The truth is that being married to someone addicted to drugs can feel like you are in the marriage all by yourself. The situation is further compounded when there are kids involved because you might have to shoulder the responsibility of caring for and raising the kids by yourself whilst taking care of your partner, who is also addicted to drugs. Sex and companionship can also become variables missing from the marriage due to your spouse’s fixation on achieving their next high.
The addiction can make your spouse more irritable and erratic, which can have and might indeed have an effect on you. Eventually, the feelings of being alone could become persistent and overwhelming.
Finally, the question becomes; do I walk out of the marriage?
The answer to this question is not absolute, for it depends on a variety of factors such as:
- If you have the strength to help the person through it
- If partners actions are not downplaying your mental health
- If your partner has not started verbally and physically abusing you.
- If the partner is willing to seek medical help and work through it.
And above, if staying won’t put you or your children at risk.
What You Shouldn’t Do
Sometimes, the behaviours we put up, and the actions we carry out when our spouse is in the wrong place has a way of worsening the situation rather than helping it, even though our original intentions may have been therapeutic. If you are married to a drug addict, these are actions we believe you should never do as they could compound your situation rather than alleviate it.
- Play the blame game: It is very easy to snap and get at your spouse for everything you and your family could be going through due to their addiction. Although you might have the facts and be justified by you blaming them, the truth is that it is not going to have the intended effect. Instead, it could compound and worsen the situation already at hand. It could make your spouse avoid you and the home and sink deeper into their addiction.
- Isolate Yourself From Family and Friends: Sometimes, it’s not just the individuals abusing drugs that isolate themselves. Sometimes their spouses do the same so that they do not have to answer for the inactions of their spouses. Sometimes, it is to escape the embarrassment that the spouse might be causing. Nonetheless, we state emphatically that this is unhealthy and could go a long way to affect the mental health of the individual whose spouse is abusing drugs. It is much safer to have at least one person aware of the challenges you are going through.
- Stay Even When It Gets Abusive: Sometimes, out of love or the quest to keep a good public image, individuals stay in relationships that are abusive and affecting both their physical and mental health. We do not recommend that. Even if you are unwilling to divorce because your spouse is going through a hard time, it might be better if you lived in different places, especially if you are abusive.
- Enabling: This refers to actions you might take that may be unknowingly done or unintentionally done that help your partner’s destructive behaviour. This can come in many forms, such as:
- Paying for the drugs your partner is abusing
- Supporting their public lies, which are usually related to abusing drugs, such as them missing work to do drugs and you covering up with an excuse that they were sick
- Taking care of all the bills whilst your partner abuses drugs
- Making excuses for his behaviour.
Sometimes, you may subconsciously put up some of these behaviours because you want to help your spouse. However, in most cases, these actions only fuel the behaviour and make it difficult for your spouse to walk away from the addiction.
If you are confused about what to do and find yourself doing many of the things listed, kindly call 0203 955 7700, and a professional will be on standby to help you.
What should be your response?
We will recommend you take a couple of actions when you are in a relationship with someone addicted to drugs. These actions include:
- Take Good Care of Yourself
Most often, individuals whose spouses are abusing drugs tend to have the worst fates. They are so overwhelmed and stressed by everything happening that the last person they have time for is themselves. This is further compounded when they have children. They become so stressed taking care of everyone and everything but themselves, which leads to an eventual but sure decline of their health. This is the last thing you would want to do.
- Set Boundaries
If no boundaries are set, your spouse may walk all over you because they might think they have the power to do so. Although your spouse may be going through a phase, you should clearly define what you would accept and what you would not when it comes to your marriage. Boundaries like he is not allowed to use family money to buy drugs, she should never lie about taking drugs. It’s not enough to set these boundaries. They must be enforced. Not only does this protect you and your children, if you have any, but it also goes a long way to help your spouse in dealing with the addiction.
- Learn All You Can About Addiction
This will be very important since your partner struggles with addiction. It will equip you with knowledge on what you should do and not do with regard to his condition. Studying the addiction will also inform you what treatment works best and which centres near you will be best to assist them.
- Seek Help and Encourage Your Partner To Do Same
Most often, we tend to be very focused on the individual addicted to the drugs that we forget we are experiencing the effects of their addiction. Considering that it will affect both parties, we recommend that you seek help from family and friends and a rehab centre whilst encouraging your partner to do the same. This will help both parties and make a recovery possible for both parties. Such an arrangement could potentially save the marriage as well.
- Have A Contingency Plan
In as much as that you might be very enthusiastic that your partner will be fine and your marriage might be back to normal or bounce back better than it used to be, we’d recommend that you put in contingency plans such as having an emergency fund for when you meet unexpected debts due to partners spending or that you have to be separated for a while. Have someone aware of whom you can move to if your partner ever gets abusive
Being with an addicted partner or spouse is certainly not a journey for the faint at heart. You end up carrying a burden meant for two people and caring for the partner with whom you were supposed to carry those burdens together. It is only a matter of time before you break down yourself. If you find yourself going overboard at the expense of your mental and physical health, relax, fall back and seek help. Remember, you can do more for your partner whilst alive and well than you can do when sick and unwell. If this situation defines your home and you need help to navigate, kindly get in touch.
Frequently Asked Questions
My Partner Is Abusive Due to Addiction. What Do I Do?
Is it my fault my partner is abusing drugs? Did I do something wrong?
Are there special counselling services for couples with these kinds of problems?
- O’Farrell, T. J., & Fals-Stewart, W. (2000). Behavioural couples therapy for alcoholism and drug abuse. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 18(1), 51–54.
- Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy
- Drug Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence: A Comparative Study of Opioid-Dependent Fathers
- Marriage and Relationship Closeness as Predictors of Cocaine and Heroin Use
- “Domestic Violence.” (July 2014). Department of Justice.
- Impact of Substance Abuse on Families.” (2004). SAMHSA.
When your spouse becomes addicted to drugs, their behaviours change which goes a long way to affect the quality of your marriage. Your partner will likely be under the strong influence of the drugs, and this influence does not only exist when the drugs are in the system; it goes a long way to influence and control various aspects of their lives even when the addiction has waned away. This makes them seem selfish sometimes because they are fixated on achieving their next “high” experience.