Helping a Spouse Through Substance Abuse Addiction

Helping A Spouse Through Substance Abuse Addiction - Transformations Care

Married couples may face many difficult situations throughout their marriage. However, one of the most challenging and difficult situations they can face is substance abuse addiction. Having a spouse who has an addiction can be extremely difficult and many marriages cannot survive it. It usually ends in separation and divorce if the spouse who is suffering from the addiction refuses to get treatment. 

In Chicago, substance abuse addiction is the seventh most common reasoning as to why couples who are married, end in divorce. Couples who struggle with addiction issues that end in divorce or separation may be common, but it doesn’t mean yours has to. 

If you have a partner who suffers from substance abuse addiction there are some things experts recommend for you to do and don’t do in order to help your addicted spouse.

No matter what you do it’s important to understand two things. It is up to the person with the substance abuse addiction to acknowledge their addiction for themselves. Secondly, it’s for them to decide whether or not they want to seek treatment for it. Those are the two things that need to happen for healing to begin.


Spotting the signs of alcohol abuse and drug abuse can be difficult. It may not be always obvious, being each person is unique as well as each couple. 

If you feel that your spouse may have a substance abuse problem, you should look for certain signs and symptoms to start out with, which are:

  • Finances disappearing without explanation.
  • Finding drugs and alcohol hidden around the house, including drug paraphernalia.
  • Promises being broken, such as not drinking at a party quickly turns into a binge.
  • Partying “with friends” becomes excessive, especially without you.
  • Promising to quit drinking or using drugs but being unable to.
  • Being under the influence or intoxicated while driving.
  • Spending more and more time away from home without much explanation.
  • Increased difficulty holding onto a job, due to chronic lateness or being absent.
  • From being intoxicated they’re putting others’ lives at risk with their behaviors.
  • Health issues develop from their substance abuse – ex. liver problems, sores that are not fully healing, digestive issues, or chronic coughs that won’t go away.

When their spouse turns to drugs and alcohol the other spouse often feels like they’re a single parent. It’s one of the most difficult things to handle while your loved one is going through substance abuse addiction while you are running a household by yourself. Alcohol and drugs can significantly change a person’s personality. When they’re under the influence their personality can change. Just like when they’re experiencing a craving it can change as well too. You can expect a person who is under the influence to say or do things that they normally wouldn’t do. Personality changes are very difficult for a spouse. It’s like the person you came to know and love, even married, has completely disappeared.


If you are committed to being supportive of helping an addicted spouse, regardless. You can take the steps below to help them get help: 

  • Asking for help: Reaching out to family and friends. Reach out to anyone you can trust for help! Your family doctor may be a good person to try to seek help from. They can possibly help you find an substance abuse addiction counselor and other resources in your community. If you need help in dealing with living with someone struggling with addiction, find resources for yourself as well. It’s important for you to receive support as well!
  • Show support: If your spouse shows an interest in wanting to attend a recovery program it is important to show support. You can even attend a 12-step meeting along with them. Always encourage them to attend meetings and read about their addictions for their recovery. 
  • Practice self-care for yourself: It can be extremely exhausting being married to someone who has a substance abuse addiction. You must also attend to your own emotional needs as well. It’s important to take the time to take good care of yourself too, along the way. It’s very important you have your own support system for yourself. A therapist you can go to for advice or svent would be highly beneficial.
  • Learn about substance abuse addiction: It is very common for spouses to feel unwanted and unloved because their spouses who have addictions turn to drugs and alcohol instead of them. It makes their spouse believe that their addictions are more appealing than who they married. When you continue to learn more about substance abuse addiction, you’ll see that cravings are very powerful psychological and physical forces that propel addictive behavior.
  • Cultivating patience: You may be very anxious and ready for your partner to change, but unfortunately, with substance abuse addiction, it happens gradually. Your spouse will have to come to realize in time their behavior is harming the marriage. It may even take time for recovery in itself to work or for you both to find the right path that works for the both of you in recovery. Upon this time coming about you will probably feel impatient and can even feel frightened at times. Either way, it will involve you having a great number of patients for your spouse and yourself, while you help them through their substance abuse addiction.


There is also a list of don’ts when it comes to dealing with an addicted spouse, according to the experts. 

To help your addicted spouse, don’t:

  • Lying for your spouse: Do not ever lie for your spouse. Even if the lie is to cover up their hangover or binge. It is not going to help them with their recovery process any faster. This includes not calling in sick on behalf of your spouse either. Making up excuses on behalf of your spouse for odd or unusual behavior to family or friends cannot be done either. Have your spouse take responsibility by explaining themself. 
  • Covering up their substance abuse addiction: Don’t ever cover their tracks by hiding pill bottles or liquor bottles. It just helps them continue their same path. 
  • Avoiding the issue: Some spouses out of fear turn a blind eye. They become afraid to face whatever consequences there could be or how things could possibly change. Don’t ignore your spouse’s problems out of fear. It isn’t beneficial to you or them, it makes the problem worse.
  • Using drugs or alcohol to keep them company: Don’t offer to use drugs or drink alcohol with them alongside keeping them company. That is just enabling and encouraging the problematic behavior and fueling the substance abuse addiction. It can also, potentially create an addiction problem for yourself as well. 
  • Blaming or judging: As you learn more facts about substance abuse addiction overall, you will begin to understand more that it is in fact a disease. Being that it is a disease, there is no point in blaming or judging your spouse for their actions. It doesn’t help them. It only makes matters worse and it turns them away from you. They do want to quit substance abuse, but they just don’t know how to and it isn’t easy. Judgment and blame aren’t helpful or productive. 
  • Turning away from your spouse: Sometimes you may have to move out temporarily in certain circumstances. Though, it’s best to try to keep in contact with your spouse if they are at least trying to make progress in recovery. Completely turning away or blocking them out of your life completely needs to be taken as a final resort for those who are violent and abusive. 
  • Blaming yourself: Even though your partner is struggling with substance abuse addiction it doesn’t mean you are the one to blame. Social factors, genetics, and family factors can all influence addiction. Though, the final decision to drink alcohol and do drugs was their choice. In time the ability to choose goes away and addiction takes its place. You are not to blame for their behavior or substance abuse addiction.
  • Expecting things to return to what they were: When your spouse enters recovery and the period afterward, your life and relationship will never be the same prior to. Accepting that your relationship with one another is in a new chapter. Learn to embark on this new journey together as your spouse continues this journey of recovery and you walk it with them.


Here is what you can expect if your partner decides to enter treatment:

  • Depending on the severity, duration, and the substance your partner is addicted to they may be recommended to go through a medical detox program. In this medical detox program, they are monitored 24/7 to ensure their medical safety bringing detoxification can be dangerous and life-threatening. 
  • Your spouse may stay at a rehab treatment facility where they will attend individualized counseling and groups. They will also attend other programs to help with their recovery process. 
  • You will work together to make a strategy for recovery together as a team. It will list steps your spouse will need to make in order to stay safe and continue to live a life of sobriety. You will find more ways to support them along with encouraging them to stay sober and substance-free.
  • Your spouse could need additional time to devote to participating in recovery meetings or engaging with sponsors. They will also need some time to converse with positive program friends who also support their sobriety. It will be natural for the other partner who is non-addicted to feel excluded or even jealous at times. The first substance abuse addiction stole a lot of time away from the relationship and family. Now with the recovery time, it feels as if it takes the same amount of time, if not more time away. If you feel it is becoming a bit problematic for you, ask your partner if you can join in on the meetings together. Also, set a scheduled time for you and your spouse to have time committed to spending together including time for family as well. It helps to try to keep everything balanced in recovery.
  • Things can get better, even though things won’t go back to the way they were prior to your spouse’s addiction. Even prior to substance abuse addiction it’s important to realize that your relationship can get even better than what it was before addiction manifested into your relationship. Recovery programs discuss “spiritual awakening,” which is when addicts begin to embrace their new way of life and begin to live in a way that helps them embrace themselves into proactive members of society. 
  • Although recovery can be great and rewarding. You must be aware there can be setbacks as well. There can be a lot of ups and downs on this journey for many people. It’s not particularly uncommon for people to relapse. At times people can go through rough patches and in dealing with a lot of stress find themselves turning to their past substance abuse addictions. Though, not all relapses are due to stress. Sometimes, people get caught up in the euphoria of celebration. They feel it’s been a long time, they can handle just one drink. Afterward, one small drink turns into several more, and then into a week of drinking nonstop. Unfortunately no matter what the situation, no one is immune. These situations are all normal parts of recovery that everyone is susceptible to. 
Substance Abuse Addiction


Recovery isn’t just about the addict in recovery but it is also about the whole family too. It can be considered an active family long-term project. You will come to discover there are many helpful programs available for the partners and family members of recovering addicts. This includes programs for their children as well! 

Al-Anon is a good example of a very helpful and supportive program for families. They help families of alcoholics. They follow a program that is very similar to the twelve-step program of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA). You can typically find their programs through your local church or at your therapist’s office. Al-Anon is usually easily accessible in the local community. 

Finding and participating in a recovery center geared for family members is very important and should be a part of the plan for recovery. People who are struggling with substance abuse need to accept responsibility for their own behavior. There can still be genetics and family dynamics that can increase the chances of substance abuse addiction. Therefore, being in recovery together and supporting one another can help you heal in many ways, especially the psychological wounds that can be very hurtful and damaging in themselves. 

No matter what you plan to do within the relationship, know it will be hard to work out. Though what relationship, especially marriage, isn’t hard work? Even in the healthiest marriages, there are still challenges that can present themselves. It’s easy to throw in the towel and give up, but it’s worth giving it the extra effort to not give up on each other. 

Transformations Care believes in making a different choice to live a different life. We would like to help you in your substance abuse addiction recovery and discuss the treatment options we have available. You can contact us at (424) 339-0965 to talk to an admissions representative today. We will be happy to answer all of your questions!


Your spouse who is suffering from substance abuse addiction along with yourself can begin this journey together. Transformations Care supports family therapy and believes in family involvement for recovery success. 

We believe in using proven, practical methods, that are no-nonsense, which are evidence-based to help foster change in helping to achieve recovery. Authenticity is important to us and for you to become a stronger person than you were prior to substance abuse addiction is a goal we have for each patient.

Transformations Care has a mission to transform lives one day at a time. We are a substance abuse addiction rehab center with a conscience. With that being said, we do actually care wholeheartedly. 

We have several treatment programs that can be discussed along with many levels of care that can be provided. We also treat an abundance of many types of addictions. 

We do accept insurances that we are able to verify on your behalf.
Contact us today at Transformation Care to get the process started to transform your life!