Asana Recovery

How to Cope With Addiction in Marriage

addiction in marriage

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 25 million people are in a marriage where one spouse is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction. Whether the spouse’s struggle is somewhat new or the spouse’s struggle has been ongoing, the problems that it causes for a relationship can be tough for everyone involved. No one wants to watch their loved one suffer from the disease of addiction. It can be heartbreaking, overwhelming and life-changing in many ways, especially if there is addiction in marriage.

Effects of Addiction in Marriage

Addiction in marriage can cause harm to a relationship in many ways, and since addiction is a progressive disease, it can continue to cause strain and weaken a marriage or relationship over time. Further, addiction is a family disease and can take a toll on the various members of a family, including the spouse and children. Some problems that you might be experiencing in your marriage because of addiction may include:

  • Loss of trust – One of the biggest problems with substance use disorder is the secrecy and lying that often accompanies addiction. When someone is struggling with addiction or alcoholism, they are often so consumed with their habit and using that they forget how their actions and behaviors impact those who care about them the most. In many cases, the lies may seem small but over time, the number of lies can result in loss of trust by the other partner. If the drug or alcohol problem has been newly discovered, there may be a lack of trust about past behaviors. If the drug or alcohol problem has been ongoing, there may be a lack of trust about ongoing behaviors that leads to accusations by one spouse, and defensive behaviors by the other spouse.
  • Financial burden – Addiction can be expensive and can put a financial strain on a marriage. Having a partner who drinks too much or uses drugs (prescription or illicit) usually means that they are spending money to pay for their habit. The spouse could be spending money secretly, incurring debt, stealing from shared accounts, or selling shared property all to buy drugs or alcohol. In some cases, the spouse with addiction could lose their jobs or even be arrested for theft or for driving under the influence (DUI), which may require paying for legal fees or posting bail. If the couple has children, this can lead to increased financial uncertainties for the family. 
  • Emotional distress and abuse – Often there is conflict at home, in the form of arguments, fights, verbal abuse or even domestic violence. Whether the arguments are directly related to drug or alcohol use, or if the fights are because of general instability in the relationship, the underlying addiction can cause emotional distress for both spouses. Additionally, alcohol and drug use can lead to violent outbursts that can result in emotional or physical abuse.
  • Lack of communication – In some relationships, it might be easier to try and ignore the problem so that it goes away, or there may just be a level of denial in the relationship. Ultimately this lack of communication will lead to more loss of trust and emotional distress that will continue to destroy the marriage.
  • Effects on children – In the case of one parent struggling with alcohol or drugs, the other parent may be so consumed by the impact on the marriage that they overlook the impact it has on their children. In some cases, the children may be so young that they are confused by the actions of their parents and by the ongoing fighting that ensues. If the children are older, they may wonder why the other parent hasn’t stepped in to help the struggling parent or vice versa.

Signs of Drug Use in Your Spouse

If you aren’t sure your spouse is abusing drugs or alcohol but you have noticed some behavioral, emotional or physical changes, here are some potential signs of addiction:

  • More secretive behavior and lying, especially as it relates to drug abuse or drinking
  • Changes in their hobbies and activities, cancelling plans, or withdrawing from friends and families
  • Neglecting family responsibilities (i.e. children, household chores, landscaping) 
  • Neglecting financial responsibilities (i.e. forgetting bills, building credit card debt)
  • Changes in personal hygiene and appearance, noticeably disheveled, unkempt etc.
  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Using mutual financial funds without discussing first (i.e. savings, 401K, mortgage)
  • Difficulties at work or losing job
  • Changes in mood and behavior
  • Other signs of mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression especially when family history of mental illness or substance use disorder

Addiction in a marriage can be particularly painful, because for the other spouse, they may ask questions such as “why don’t they love me enough to stop?” “Why can’t I fix him/her?” “What should I be doing differently” etc. Despite wanting to help them, it is equally important to protect yourself and consider your own feelings and emotional and physical safety. Unfortunately, when an individual is married to someone with an active substance use disorder, they become sick as well since it is a family disease. For example, the spouse of an addicted person can develop anxiety, depression or even post traumatic stress disorder as a result of their spouse’s addiction. They may also take on codependent roles or become an enabler of their spouses behavior, while developing other unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

Get Help in California

Ultimately, both the individual with a substance use disorder and their spouse will benefit from professional treatment, especially for their marriage to survive drug addiction. If you or your spouse has a problem with substance or alcohol use, Asana Recovery can help. Contact Asana Recovery or give us a call today at 949-763-3440. Our trained professionals will walk you through the admissions process and make sure all of your questions are answered. The first step is admitting you need help, and is often the hardest. Once you take that first step, there will be a team on your side to help you be successful in your new future.