Help your husband with drug addiction (by helping yourself)

Is your “help” the kind of help he needs? More here on how to live with a husband AND drug addiction (from someone who’s been there).

minute read

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.

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.

About the author
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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. Thank you so much for these articles. My father just passed away and my spouse’s addiction just began in our relationship. I need to be strong for my mother and siblings and without much understanding I didn’t know what else to do with this addiction issue. These articles have really propelled me in the right direction and given me advice that makes sense for me and my future. I feel more at peace and really appreciate the support that I needed. These points will keep me on cue with my emotions and what I can do for myself.

  2. A and Rachel,
    thank you for sharing your story. I want you to know that there is hope and that you should not give up because there are things that seem insurmountable. Anything can be overcome; it is just the way you change your perspective to address it. You have to start the steps by creating them and then just knowing that things can change gives you the hope you need to start them.
    Amanda Andruzzi, MHP, CHC, AADP,published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the video book trailer:

  3. All these stories are helpful to let me know I’m not alone . My questions is how can you not walk out on your loved one (My boyfriend) when he is struggling with herion an meth an a needle 3 addictions an he has made those his crutch his escape , everyone has turned away from him the other reason he gets to stay in his mother’s house is cause of me an our kids . We repeat this tell of a cycle for almost 4 years now . I enable him an I also fight him an blame him an are angry at him. He sees no reason to live have the time . Not sure if he is manipulating me or its a cry for help I’m so confused to stay or leave. He is on probation an says he can’t do a detox or rehab cause he will violate , he can’t lay down. To get through the sickness cause he will lose his job an get get us all kicked out of where we live. We can manage to save money an since he is a felony its hard to find a place on just my proof of income. He is a good father the kids adore him an have fun with him leaving him would not only hurt him but also my children . I would like help on a positive way to get through this to find steps to actions to take . Thank you

  4. Where to start – I married 10 years ago knowing my partner was in 16k debt, living with his parents and a bad credit report – away football , gambling and cash back on credit cards (I assume cocaine). Unaware of the cocaine or gambling amount I trusted and believed it could be paid off and at 27 he just needed help to sort it and grow up. Over the term of our marriage I worked, studied and provided us a roof from a pre owned house. He played cricket, golf went out drinking coming back at times he pleased – broke promises. I decorated looked after the baby and took the responsibility. I was still suspicious of drugs and gambling checking for bookie receipts and sometimes finding cocaine in his wallet – never his and always a story We moved house 2 children and my built career 8 years on (a gambling blip of over 1000) later and all seemed ok. Same story I garden, renovate the house work or spend time with children. He works hard and will drop/pick up kids. Recently his mobile phone bill went up month on month £40 up in stages to €400. He admitted gambling when caught out. 3 days later a 10k credit card bill – he then admitted that when I shoved it under his face. 7 days later and suspicious about coke (finding a bag with it in a few months earlier) and the trend in cash back on his credit card I took his bank card (new had it 4 months it was white around the edge, started to snap and had lots of muck in the numbers) drug tested positive for coke – confronted he still denies it. Joining the dots over the years I’m lost I can’t believe a word he says I am doubting myself from what he is saying he is so adamant – I haven’t included his behaviours and inability to support or help me with anything nor the manipulation and picking arguments focused on me working too hard. I want to believe he was what I thought, he is seeing a councillor for his gambling but I don’t want my dreams and belief to be wasted on a wish and a prayer wasting my life waiting for his change. He often doesn’t wear a seatbelt, speeds with us in the car even though I nag and nag (once caught by police doing 99mph even at my protesting when I was in the back and couldn’t see the dial). He forgets to lock doors, close windows or if he has used the grill takes the smoke alarm battery out and doesn’t put it back in for safety. He can be kind and everyone else thinks he is great but I see him dissing on the sofa, leaving his mess, nag for him to cut the grass yet his Saturday for himself and he has energy for that. Am I fighting a waste of time? He says I make him unhappy but won’t leave but says if I was nicer and didn’t nag he would be ok. After 3 weeks coumcilling he says he is a different person and won’t gamble ever again although this was also at the time I rose the cocaine issue which he won’t admit.

  5. Jennifer,
    I cannot guarantee you about what happens to an attic after you leave them. Have you read Hope Street? It’s hard to understand when you are in the thick of it but you leaving should not be because it might help him. You leaving only has to do with your well-being. Being concerned about everything you do and how it will affect the addict is what you’re trying to change.

    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the Video BOOK Trailer:

  6. My question is did leaving your husband help him? Is he still an addict? Or is this a step that only helps you to be free of an addict.

  7. Vitty,
    If you want to understand what you are going through and how to get out of it please read Hope Street. It took me a long time, a lot of tears, a great deal of pain and a journey to get to where I am today which is a place of freedom, independence and happiness. I was just as deep into my ex-husband as anyone else, probably moreso but if you want to change and believe there is a way, let me, this blog, the other’s posts and my book help you get there. You can do this.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the Video BOOK Trailer:

  8. Kyra,
    please keep reading the other articles I have written here. Just click on my name near my picture and 45+ articles will come up. Also pick up Hope Street if you can. It is really important that you know what you are dealing with and that you know what addiction is really about. If he does not hit rock bottom and you keep saving him, he may never really want to go for help because HE wants to. Either way, he is staying on the same path so you babysitting him will not help him, I know, I did this with my ex-husband for 12 years and he used behind my back and was high in front of me even though I tried everything. You need to really understand your part in his addiction.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict View the Video BOOK Trailer:

  9. Reading this brought me to tears, it hurts to know that I try as hard as I can to help my husband and my efforts are not even denting the surface. I realized now that I do need to help myself to be able to help him,yet I know myself and I wouldn’t be able to see him hurt himself and turn away. How were you able to ignore that and help yourself first? I know that would be my down fall and I need advice for it, please and thank you.

  10. This makes so much sense. I am on the verge of losing my job because I darent go in because he might leave and get high and I won’t know about it. I have to hide money and bank cards and I constantly worry. He has been using again for 3 weeks. He came back early hours this morning and I just broke down for 2 hours uncontrollably. He tried to comfort me while goucheing..! It just hurt more. I have been to one of the trap houses he goes to twice this week and brought him home. I know it’s silly and dangerous but I feel consumed. I told him tonight to chose which was probably silly. He has an appt to get back in a subutex script again at the end of the week he is going to do detox and then they will put him on something that will make him sick if he touches the drug. I am worried he is doing it for the wrong reason. I haven’t lived in months. The only way I live is when he goes off. As soon as he is home I stay in. Can’t even leave the room he is in for two long because he goes when I do that. I feel overwhelmed and trapped. He has only recently taken money from my account bc he got a job which he lost bc of this for the second time and he felt he has a right to as his money was paid into there. We booked a holiday a month ago and things were going great he was clean for two months he put on weight was doing great. Then just didn’t pick up his script and disappeared again. I feel like I’m going crazy. I love him so much this is taking over my life. He is such a nice guy. This is ruining everything. I have felt so desperate….

    I forgot to say that he is using heroin and crack cocaine. He came back at 5am and has been asleep since 7am. He can’t stay awake. This is so worrying. I have been with him 8 months had no idea when I met him. I found out 3 months later when he disappeared. I am reading books. They also have a counselor where he goes for family. I don’t know if that will help. I’m lost I don’t know a lot about all this never been around it but I know when he is lying and even know now when he is going to “go”..! I am researching so much. I am going to have to start living this is no good for me and my kids. Your article will help me push through I hope. Thank you.

  11. 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.
    Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from a co-addict

  12. 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.

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

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?