Addiction rarely only affects the person with the addiction – it can impact friends and family members too – and of course, can take its toll on any marriage.
If you think your husband may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may be left wondering what your options are, and how you can help him.
Spousal addiction can be overwhelming, and very difficult to deal with. However, at Help4Addiction, we understand the difficulties that people can face with addiction, and we can help.
Read on to learn more about how to identify drug or alcohol addiction, and how you can help your addicted spouse. We’ll also be discussing how you can find the right rehab treatment centre for your husband to overcome his addiction.
Addiction is characterised by the lack of control over taking, doing or using something – for example, the lack of control over drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
In terms of drugs and alcohol, addiction can refer to physical dependence on a substance or psychological addiction.
Abusing a substance doesn’t necessarily mean that you are addicted to it – however, if you are addicted to a substance, you will likely regularly abuse the substance.
We provide personalised support and resources for addiction recovery. Take the first step towards a brighter future today.
There are many risk factors for addiction, and there is rarely just one cause. It is important to consider both environmental factors and genetic factors when trying to understand the cause of addiction.
That being said, genes have been found to be responsible for around half the risk of alcohol use disorder according to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Different genes identified as increasing the risk of alcohol use disorder include ALDH2 and ADH1B.
Psychological factors may also increase the risk of addiction, whether it be to drugs or alcohol. For example, traumatic experiences and mental health issues can all increase the risk of developing substance use disorder.
Approximately half of all individuals that have severe mental disorders are impacted by substance abuse. Likewise, 53% of those who abuse drugs and 37% of those who abuse alcohol have at least one severe mental illness.
Before confronting your partner about their addiction, it’s important that first of all, you are able to recognise the signs of addiction.
Drug and alcohol use isn’t always obvious, especially in the early stages of addiction. If your partner is a ‘functioning alcoholic’ or functional drug user, the signs may not be evident at first.
Substance use can impact a person’s physical and mental health. If your husband has a substance use disorder, you may notice changes in his physical health.
These changes may vary depending on the substance – for example, excessive alcohol consumption is linked to ‘drinkers nose’, cancer, organ failure and many more. Alcohol use is linked to over 60 health issues.
Another thing to look out for is personality changes. Has your husband’s mental health changed recently? Addiction can not only cause mental health issues but worsen existing mental health disorders.
Substance abuse can cause changes in the brain that are disrupted in mental disorders such as anxiety, mood disorders, impulse-control disorders and schizophrenia.
Alcohol addiction can be difficult to identify – however, there are some key signs to look out for that may suggest your husband has a problem with alcohol.
That being said, it’s important to note that these signs alone do not confirm whether your husband has an addiction or not. This is something that should be discussed with a medical professional or addiction specialist.
A key sign that your husband has developed a dependence on alcohol is having an increased tolerance.
The more alcohol you drink over time, the more your body gets used to the alcohol intake – your body may develop a higher tolerance to alcohol.
This means that your husband may be able to drink much more alcohol than you and others, but still appear relatively sober. Your husband may need to drink more alcohol to feel drunk.
Over time, tolerance can turn into dependence. This means that your husband may need to drink alcohol simply to feel ‘normal’ or to function on a day-to-day basis.
That being said, several factors can impact a person’s tolerance to alcohol – for example, height, weight, age and sex.
If your husband has developed a physical dependence on alcohol, he will experience symptoms of withdrawal when he suddenly stops drinking or begins to consume fewer alcohol units than he is used to.
Withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person, and the severity of the symptoms can depend on a variety of factors such as addiction history and medical history.
Some common physical withdrawal symptoms may include fever, headache, tremors, changes in appetite, nausea, vomiting, and red face. Your husband may also experience psychological withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, low mood, and mood swings.
Severe alcohol withdrawal, although considered rare, can be life-threatening. Delirium tremens can include hallucinations – if you think your addicted spouse is experiencing delirium tremens, seek medical attention immediately.
Drug use, like alcohol use, isn’t always obvious – and the signs of drug use can vary from drug to drug.
Drug abuse is a form of substance use disorder – it involves the use of illicit drugs or the abuse of prescription medication. Drug addiction can include a range of drugs – for example:
Prescription drugs can be abused just like ‘street’ drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Prescription pain relievers, stimulants or sedatives can all be addictive.
If your husband takes more of his prescription medication than needed, takes it to feel high, sources it through illicit means (e.g through drug dealers), or mixes his prescription with other drugs or alcohol, he may have a substance abuse problem.
Drug addicts may possess equipment for drug use such as needles or small bags with powder in them – so if you suspect that your husband is a drug addict, look out for not only drugs but drug apparatus too. Some other drug paraphernalia to look out for could include miniature spoons or pipes.
When an addicted person develops a dependence on drugs, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop taking the substance or drastically lower the amount they are used to.
Withdrawal symptoms can occur with both illicit drugs and prescription drugs. Signs of withdrawal can vary from drug to drug – but the general rule of thumb is that the more severe the addiction, or the longer the person has been addicted to drugs, the more severe the drug withdrawal symptoms will be.
If you think your husband may be addicted to cannabis, for example, he may feel anxiety or struggle to concentrate when he stops smoking the drug. You may also notice he is more irritable than usual, or his eating habits have changed.
If, however, your husband has an opioid addiction, the symptoms may be more severe – he may experience a high temperature, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and slower breathing when withdrawing from opioids.
If you are in a committed relationship, it’s only natural that you wish to help your addicted partner. However, it’s important that you understand that your husband needs to want to change before he can begin his recovery journey.
If your partner is in denial, any attempts at encouraging him to seek treatment will fall on deaf ears.
First of all, it’s important to create an open environment for your partner to open up about their addiction.
Although it can be difficult to remain calm, especially if your partner is actively addicted to drugs or alcohol and is currently intoxicated – but it’s important to avoid lashing out or losing your temper.
If your addicted partner is currently intoxicated, it may be best to avoid speaking about the issue until they are sober.
As well as giving your spouse a chance to open up about their issues, you can use this opportunity to talk about the effect it is having on you and others. For example, is it impacting the lives of your children or your finances?
Bear in mind that addiction is a disease, and it can be difficult to not only admit you have a problem but seek treatment and overcome addiction without help.
There’s no denying that dealing with a spouse’s addiction can be difficult, so it’s important that you look out for your own emotional health too.
Substance abuse is linked to domestic violence. 39% of violent incidents that occurred in 2019 were related to alcohol use.
If you are in an unsafe situation, whether it be physical violence or emotional violence, it’s important to speak up to a loved one – or if you’re in immediate danger, seek emergency help.
It’s also important to assess your own behaviour and your own substance use – if you are also taking drugs or abusing alcohol, you’re not in a position to help your addicted husband.
Be sure to take care of yourself. Find time to relieve stress, whether it be taking a relaxing bath, exercising, or meditating. If you want to help your addicted spouse, you must look after yourself too, and take care of your own needs.
One of the most important things you can do to help your addicted husband is to avoid enabling their substance abuse. It may seem like the easiest option to turn a blind eye to their substance use, but it will only cause more damage in the long term.
Be sure to set firm boundaries regarding your husband’s drug use or alcohol consumption, and don’t provide drugs or alcohol to your husband.
Enabling your husband’s substance abuse ultimately shields them from the negative consequences of their addiction – preventing them from seeing the severity of the issue.
This can stop them from seeking the help they need, and they may refuse treatment. However, if they can see the consequences, they may be more inclined to seek treatment for their addiction.
Chances are, you can’t help your addicted spouse overcome their substance abuse issues alone. Instead, you can encourage them to seek the addiction treatment they need, whether it be a rehab programme or support groups.
Although it’s possible to complete a sole detox, detoxification is always recommended as part of a larger treatment plan. This is because detoxification alone does not address the psychological and social aspects of addiction; only the physical dependence on a substance.
Whether your husband is addicted to drugs or alcohol, the treatment process remains pretty much the same. Addiction treatment begins with detoxification, and upon successfully detoxing from the substance, you may then receive addiction therapy.
Upon leaving rehab, you can continue to receive support in the form of secondary treatment. This can ease the transition from rehab to your everyday life.
This may include support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, further therapy and counselling, or online/ telephone support.
Support groups can be extremely beneficial, and can encourage your husband to speak with others in a similar situation about his addiction.
Finding the right rehab clinic can be difficult – with so many options out there, the process can be overwhelming. However, at Help4Addiction, we aim to make things easier for you by sourcing the right rehab for you.
We’ll listen to your story, needs, preferences and circumstances to determine not only the best treatment plan for you and your husband but the best clinic.
We have been helping people with substance use disorders get the treatment they deserve for years, and can help your husband overcome his substance addiction or substance abuse issues by finding the right local rehab program.
Contact us today to discuss the addiction recovery process, and to get the ball rolling on your husband’s recovery journey.
Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.
Receive a callback, we’re ready to help you get on the road to recovery.
Don’t hesitate to reach out – we’re here to provide the support you deserve, anytime, day or night.