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Addiction of any kind can lead to some seriously destructive behavior. Dependence can alienate loved ones, cause health problems, result in legal troubles, and threaten an addict’s health (and even their life). Because of these difficulties, being married to a person who suffers from addiction can be trying, to say the least.
Many people who find themselves in this position eventually reach a point of frustration and hopelessness, and feel that divorcing their addicted spouse is the only option they have left.
If this feel all too familiar, if the person you love is struggling with addiction, there is hope! Divorce is not your only option! In fact, having a loving, supportive, and brave spouse may very well be the key to beating the addiction, or at least starting down the path.
We’re all familiar with the concept of a 12-step program, in which “admitting the problem” is always the first priority. Importance is placed on admission because of the nature of addiction, and the tendency of sufferers to convince themselves that there isn’t actually a problem, that they can stop anytime they want, that they aren’t hurting anyone, etc. When an individual has themselves convinced that there isn’t any wrongdoing in their actions, it can be extremely difficult for them hear anything to the contrary, especially when coming from authority figures, counselors, police, and the like. If a “wake up call” can come from someone as close as a husband or wife, however, the message may be much more powerful.
Even after an addiction has been admitted to, recovery is a long and often grueling road. Fighting temptation, self-doubt, or withdrawals can be a harrowing process, and having a support structure is extremely important. If you are married to an addict, they may need you more than you realize, and not as a crutch or a meal ticket, but as a champion, the person that believes in them when no one else will, the person that loves them and wants to help them get well.
Most addicts, regardless of the type of addiction, will not seek help on their own, and will continue on the downward spiral until someone reaches out to help them. As the spouse of an addict – you are probably the best candidate for the job, as difficult as it may seem. The good news is: people DO get better. No addiction is beyond recovery. Professional help, coupled with loving support and unwavering discipline can turn even the fiercest addicts away from their poison of choice.
Divorce is not the only option when married to an addict, and while it shouldn’t be used as a threat, even knowing that you are considering it might help your spouse to come to their senses. Communication is very important in this situation, even if an addiction makes it difficult. You have to let your spouse know that they are hurting themselves, hurting you, and on the path to sacrificing what you’ve built together. It will surely be difficult, but there is hope.
If your spouse suffers from addiction, please check out these valuable resources for help and support. Your loved one needs you.
Alanon (An organization for addict’s loved ones) - http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/meetings/meeting.html
Alcoholics Anonymous - http://www.aa.org/
American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Illnesses - http://www.americanacademy.org/resources/index.aspx
Family Intervention Institute - www.familyinterv.com/
National Addiction Resources - http://www.drugrehabadvice.org/
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com
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