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How to Deal with A Spouse’s Addiction

Aug 16, 2021

As the spouse of an executive with a substance use disorder, the new demands in your role can feel overwhelming at times. Your husband’s or wife’s addiction has been destructive on the relationship. You’re looking for ways to cope with the impact of your spouse’s drug or alcohol use on both them and on you. You may even be surprised by it appearing suddenly. 

Today, we’ll introduce some ways to help the breadwinner of the family begin healing. 

As the spouse of an executive with a drug addiction, coping in a healthy way consists of setting boundaries, educating yourself about addiction, and avoiding enabling drinking and drug use. 

Even when they’re the breadwinner, it’s important to encourage treatment for the benefit of protecting his job and career. Family therapy is a recommended step to take to begin repairing relationships as part of a residential treatment program. 

Equipping yourself with an understanding of addiction is a recommended first step. It’s helpful to understand how a substance use disorder is affecting your significant other. You need to know how the cycle of addiction works, too. 

Addressing a SUD directly is essential. There will be no improving the situation by hiding it, denying it, or ignoring it. That doesn’t mean everyone they know needs to know about the situation. It’s still a family matter, and they are entitled to privacy regarding it. 

Talking to an addiction specialist can provide a lot of direction on where to look for treatment. That’s the end game, of course. Along the way, you can help your spouse by stopping any enabling acts you’re doing that keep them from facing the consequences of their drug or alcohol use. 

Setting boundaries is another important part of helping them during the time leading up to treatment. Identify what is unacceptable behavior and communicate that, along with the consequences. Following through with consequences is also important. 

What if they are the breadwinner?

Being married to a person who earns the primary income or is in charge of the household finances can present some unique challenges related to addiction. While you don’t have control over this area of the relationship, you can focus on where you do have control. 

Reaching out for support for yourself is one recommended step. You can get help to manage the stress from being married to an executive with an addiction. 

The focus of any conversation about potential treatment can be related to his breadwinner status in at least a couple of ways. One topic could be how your husband’s or wife’s addiction could jeopardize their job and career. They may need occasional reminders about this type of risk associated with substance use. The cost of treatment then becomes an investment in protecting their career, and it can be covered by insurance. 

Another way to approach the breadwinner’s addiction is to set realistic expectations. One conversation about the impact of their drinking won’t be enough to motivate them to seek help with recovery. Also, one treatment plan is insufficient in sustaining recovery. A conversation about treatment should include a long-term look at how it will begin and continue beyond a stint at rehab. 

Is there help for the rest of the family?

Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family. Getting help for every family member is recommended. Each person may respond differently to the head of the household’s substance use. Family therapy can be part of the work needed to repair relationships within the family so everyone can begin healing. 

Family members may need help ending codependent habits, too. These may involve not taking care of their own needs and instead focusing on the needs of a parent with an addiction. They may experience depression or anxiety related to a parent’s substance use as well. 

Prioritizing their own health and well-being can feel like a challenging shift of energy. They will need support in undoing how they have been shaped by their loved one’s SUD. 

Family therapy sessions during treatment offer loved ones an opportunity to begin sharing how a spouse or parent’s addiction has impacted them. These sessions can be valuable for individual healing and collective healing as a family unit. 

Family therapy that begins during a treatment program can continue in a formal setting and support groups designed for family members of someone with an alcohol or drug addiction. 

HeadWaters at Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. 

For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.

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