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Help your husband with drug addiction (by helping yourself)

How many more sleepless nights and anxiety filled days will you endure? Are you in love with an addict but don’t know whether to leave or to stay?  If your life is unmanageable because your spouse is a substance abuser, you probably want to help them make a change. But how can you start?

We will answer common questions around spouse and drug addiction here. Plus, we explore how helping yourself is a positive step and can actually help the person you love. Then, we invite your questions or comments about having zero tolerance for drug use in the home at the end.

Is Your “Help” the Right Kind Help He Needs?

Sometimes the more “help” you try to give to an addict, the worse the addict behaves. You have picked up the slack at home, made excuses for your spouse at work, made appointments for counseling, read books on addiction, shown unconditional love, begged, and tried to reason with the addict. Every word that comes out of the addict’s mouth is a lie. Despite all your efforts, the person you love is spiraling more and more out of control or alternating between sobriety and relapse.

You do not realize how much time it takes to deal with the addict until, at some point; you realize that you are taking care of everything else but you. And while we know that addict’s families need help, it’s often difficult to start. What now?

Is it time for a new approach?

If you are starting to feel like there is nowhere else to turn, it may be time to take a different approach. You have tried to work on your husband but the person you should be working on is yourself. Addiction must run its course and we can either fight it or allow it to play out. You cannot act the same way again and again and expect different results. An addict will do the same thing over and over again, regardless of the harm they are inflicting upon themselves. If this behavior seems insane, you must look at your part in it.

For example, you do not want your spouse to leave the house and get high, but think about what happens when you try to stop them. Attacking them turns into a big argument and they leave anyway feeling justified or they lie to your face and sneak out later. All you have accomplished is prolonging the inevitable and upsetting yourself in the meantime. An addict will get high with or without your permission.

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This is not to condone living with an addict that is using, but if you intend not to leave the situation, there is little reason to continue getting upset over predictable addict behaviors. If your husband always goes out and gets high regardless of what you do to try and stop it, then why do you continue to try and stop it? You have to ask yourself what type of satisfaction you are getting out of this exchange?

A big lesson: Worry about yourself

My husband and I were having the same fight as he was getting ready to leave the house. I was telling him I knew he was high and he was telling me he was not. I was trying to convince him to admit that he should not go out and get high again. I was doing my usual–getting upset, yelling, crying, and begging him to see the error of his ways. Then he said something to me that made a real impact.

He said, “You are acting like a crazy person. What is wrong with you? Why are you so worried about my life? Worry about yourself!”

He was right. If he had no intention to get sober then why was I still so invested in his life and not my own?

Start caring more about yourself

It did not happen overnight, but I noticed that the less I cared to help him, the more I was helping myself. I started to see a therapist again and go to support meetings. Over time, it no longer mattered to me what happened to him because I was concerned with the happiness and safety of my daughter and myself.

What can happen? Change!

A few things can happen if you help your husband by helping yourself, you can:

  • gain a better perspective on the situation
  • move on with your life
  • help him get better by allowing him to hit bottom with his addiction
  • inspire him to change when he sees you are no longer going to be concerned with his problems
  • obtain independence
  • and/or find a renewed peace and happiness in your life

These outcomes are likely better options than the current situation. It is easy to get caught up in the cycle of addiction. Self-help may be just the catalyst you need to end the progression of co-addiction.

There is very little anyone can do to change the course of addiction an addict is on. It is important to remember that you cannot change anyone but yourself. If your spouse is going to make a change it will be a decision they will come to on their own time.

Photo credit: Camdiluv

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4 Responses to “Help your husband with drug addiction (by helping yourself)
pj
7:24 am February 3rd, 2015

Thank you so much for this information. Just what I needed to read.

Amanda Andruzzi
5:52 pm February 9th, 2015

PJ,
Thank you for your comment. It is always great to hear my articles are helping people.
Best,
Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from a co-addict

Rosalie
7:05 am March 3rd, 2015

My husband is a drug addict and has overdosed, been in rehab…now he is home and he is back on pain med. He had cancer one year ago (mouth) and they think it came back. Said he has to quit dipping but he’s still doing it…..what am I going to do help please.

Amanda Andruzzi
9:03 pm March 6th, 2015

Rosalie,
Thank you for sharing with us. We always welcome new people. I hope that you know you are not alone.
The help I offer here highly depends on what you are prepared to do. If you want out, if you want to find peace with the addict, if you want to get help for yourself, we can work on that. The one thing I can’t offer is advice on how to help your husband, unfortunately I have learned, the hard way, that an addict must help himself.
Depending on what you are ready to do, the best advice I can give is that you should focus on you. You need to worry about yourself, sanity, safety and happiness. If the addict is active, they must deal with their own consequences. You are responsible for your own happiness and as hard as it seems to say or hear, if he decides to change his life, it won’t be because of anything you did. If addicts could simply change for their loved ones, then they wouldn’t have become addicts in the first place. Their addiction runs much deeper and so do the reasons co-addicts stay and don’t leave them.
Rosalie, if you want something to change then I suggest you make that change. Click on my name here in this blog, Amanda Andruzzi and a list of articles I wrote to help with this topic will come up. These are from personal experience and can be very useful. Keep me posted.
Best,
Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from a co-addict

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About Amanda Andruzzi

Amanda Andruzzi, MPH, AADP, CHES, is a Certified Health Coach, founder of Symptom-Free Wellness, and the author of Hope Street. Her first book, Hope Street memoir is an inspirational story of one woman's frightening journey of co-addiction that led her to uncover courage, unbelievable strength and overcome great adversity. She resides with her daughter, husband, and two sons in Florida.

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