Loving an Addict Without Losing Yourself

Loving an addict is like riding a never-ending roller coaster. Truth be told, you may feel like getting off the ride. Fortunately, there are ways to maintain the relationship without losing yourself in the process. Take a look at some strategies for dealing with a spouse who is suffering from addiction while caring for yourself at the same time.

Practice Acceptance

Practicing acceptance means having realistic expectations, and accepting the fact that your spouse is an addict. You may not like it, but you don’t have the power to change it. Consider the 3 Cs of addiction recovery: You didn’t cause the addiction, you can’t control the addiction, and you can’t cure the addiction. Instead of expecting your spouse to be different, try to accept them for who they are right now. Adjusting your expectations can preserve your relationship on the rocky road to recovery.

Set Boundaries

Boundaries place a limit on the actions and behavior you will accept from your spouse. When you love an addict, you might decide that drugs and alcohol are not allowed in the house, and that they cannot be with you or your children if they are drunk or high. Other healthy boundaries include never giving an addict money, and never lying for them. Setting these boundaries won’t necessarily change your spouse, but they will provide you with a measure of sanity and control in a difficult situation.

Commit to Self-Care

It is not selfish to take care of yourself—it is essential for your health and well-being. Find something that brings you joy, and make room for it in your life. It might be a hobby, a class, a spiritual practice, or something as simple as coffee with a friend. Do what you need to do to feel mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy. Then, you will have a reserve of energy and strength to handle the hard times with your spouse.

Ask for Help

Loving an addict is almost impossible to do in isolation; you need to be with other people who know what you’re going through. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon Family Groups provide much-needed support and strategies through their 12-step programs. Private, individual therapy can also help you deal with your own issues, such as codependent patterns and enabling behaviors. And if your spouse is in a substance abuse program, you may be able to participate in family therapy sessions at the treatment center.

Loving an addict is never easy, but it is possible to survive with your marriage—and your very self—intact.

If you’d like to learn more about family therapy at a private rehab center, contact our trained admissions counselors at (888) 984-3284.


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