The American Society of Addiction Medicine recognizes addiction as a primary, chronic disease of the brain’s ability for motivation and memory. Dysfunction in the brain’s characteristics leads to biological, psychological, social and spiritual demonstrations; this can be reflected in an individual pursuing relief by substance use.
Addiction is characterized by the inability to abstain, impairs behavioral control and cravings. The disease involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.
Addiction is considered a highly treatable disease, and recovery is attainable. About 10 percent of American adults who are at least 18 years old say they are in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse issues, according to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
Continue reading to learn how you can support your spouse in addiction recovery.
Addiction is not a choice or a display of your spouse’s morality; it is a disease of the brain.
Your loved one will need to receive several outlets of support to maintain a successful recovery. Family can be a powerful support system for a loved one in need of addiction treatment.
Specific treatment options are complicated for some. It could make them feel demoralized or unmotivated. Your loved one might be having a hard time keeping track of appointments or even admitting they have a disorder. Skepticism and negative feelings are conjured when those struggling with addiction focus on the stigma associated with addiction instead of the intense reality of needing treatment to live a better life.
While you should encourage your loved one to get help, be conscientious not to force them to undergo treatment. Addiction is a compulsion, and your loved one cannot quickly stop their problem unless they receive treatment. The concept of them being in control of their thoughts, actions, or temptations is no longer in existence.
As their spouse, typically you will have a significant influence on your loved one’s actions and choices. Show love and support, set boundaries, and be compassionate towards your husband’s or wife’s needs. It will not be easy, but it is possible. Better Life Recovery & Wellness is here for you and wants to provide you and your loved one with the resources to be successful.
HOW YOU CAN HELP TO SUPPORT YOUR SPOUSE IN ADDICTION RECOVERY
Firstly, conduct research and learn about mental health disorders, addiction, and various treatment options catered to your loved one’s specific substance abuse problems.
Recovery is one of the most significant challenges your spouse could experience in their life. Sobriety is not a linear process; there will be ups and downs. Finding the best treatment option and having a strong support network are critical factors for making their recovery journey more manageable.
Review information about potential triggers, health issues, the recovery process, and psychological changes your loved one is experiencing.
Please keep in mind that while you are taking care of your loved one in their recovery efforts, you should not abandon personal needs. Try to maintain balance in your life and avoid taking on more responsibility than you can manage. Don’t make up excuses for your loved one in regards to finances, emotions and additional duties such as chores and childcare. Understanding and preparing for potential problems will make it easier to manage and minimize the impact.
Here are tips for how to support your spouse in their addiction recovery:
Follow treatment recommendations.
Support your loved one to ensure they follow-through with their treatment efforts:
- Remind them to take all prescribed medications.
- Attentively listen to concerns about medications.
- Instill and maintain regular appointments with treatment providers.
- Work with the treatment team to stay informed and help address any issues related to medications.
- Do not smother your loved one. Allow them the opportunity to be accountable for their actions and gain independence.
- Establish boundaries from the beginning. Make sure both of you are on the same page. Maintain open communication and discuss limits.
Remove any triggers or temptations.
Being surrounded by alcohol or drugs will tempt your loved one, causing the likelihood of their symptoms to worsen and trigger a relapse. Stay away from all alcohol and drug use. It is the safest, most practical choice for people who struggle from addiction.
- Get rid of all alcoholic beverages in your home as well as products that contain alcohol.
- Keep any necessary medications locked away.
- Create a substance-free environment – One of the most significant predictors of long-term recovery is whether or not users live in drug-free and/or alcohol-free environments.
- Encourage your spouse to stay away from places that cause temptations for relapse.
Build strong coping skills.
Everyday life always has its stressors – which can be either positive or negative. Develop strategies to manage stressful situations like:
- Unexpected losses
- Starting or ending a close relationship
- Beginning a new career
- Family responsibilities
- Financial obligations
- Moving to a new home
- Handling a loved one’s or personal illness
- Resolving a personal conflict
- Or, a journey to recovery from addiction
Coping skills, according to the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, are efforts made to maintain mental health and emotional well-being in response to psychological stress. Coping strategies are the behaviors, thoughts and emotions used to adapt to life’s unexpected changes.
Strategies can include:
- Physical activity
- Adjusting expectations
Coping mechanisms help people deal with stress and symptoms of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, irregular sleep habits or addiction cravings.
You can help a loved one avoid stress-induced relapses by listening to them process stressful experiences, solving practical problems, or utilizing coping strategies for dealing with symptoms or cravings.
Provide social support.
Family conflict can contribute to relapses. Social support is known to reduce stress. You can reduce tension and be supportive by:
- Developing good communication skills
- Asking for permission to give them honest feedback and offering constructive suggestions
- Actively listen and allow them to vent
- Being optimistic and provide ongoing encouragement
- Being flexible and resourceful in the face of problems
- Informing your loved one how much you care for and love them, and being proud of their choice to maintain sobriety
- Spending a positive time together
- Accepting your spouse without any display of judgment
- Refraining from criticism and negativity
Help your loved one avoid social situations with substance use present. Support your loved one by developing a robust social network of sober people who practice abstinence.
Encourage participation in support groups.
In support groups, recovering addicts can interact with other recovering addicts while receiving encouragement.
Encourage your spouse to get involved in a peer support group by:
- Attending meetings of a few local peer support groups to find the right one
- Supporting regular participation in the meetings
- Learning about the philosophy of the peer support groups your loved one joins
Develop healthy lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes will need to take place during the journey to recovery. Less time will be spent with people who use substances, and more time with those who support sobriety.
Here’s what you can do:
- Encourage the reconnection and development of sober friends.
- Create healthy habits like cooking, exercising, and playing games.
- Remove all addictive substances from your loved one’s environment.
- Avoid social gatherings where substance use is present.
- Find new hobbies and sober activities to participate in together.
- Focus on fresh, positive aspects of life.
- Participate in activities that help nourish the mind, body, and spirit, such as yoga and meditation.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Get the appropriate amount of sleep.
- Make appointments for regular health screenings.
- Spend more time in nature.
Support your loved one’s involvement in structured activities.
Unfortunately, addiction might have become the center of your loved one’s life. Regaining meaningful activities will motivate your loved one to stay sober.
Encourage your loved one to step outside of his/her comfort zone and to try new hobbies. Discuss which types of activities they find meaning in and go from there.
Getting involved in new activities can be a great alternative to shift the focus on positivity.
Remind your loved one meaningful goals are achievable, despite any previous setbacks.
Especially when times get hard, don’t give up.
Family members play a vital role in helping their loved one remain optimistic, believing the ability to recover and create a successful future. Faith, hope and love are powerful medicine; it fuels sobriety efforts to regain control of their life.
Be patient for recovery is a long and complicated process. Setbacks can be discouraging and exhausting for you and your loved one. Keep moving forward slowly.
RELAPSE: KNOW THE SIGNS. MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Relapse of symptoms or substance use occurs periodically. Relapses can disrupt the lives of everyone involved in your loved one’s life. Become familiar with the warning signs and develop a plan.
The warning signs of relapse are unique. Help to prevent relapses by acting in the following:
- Knowing your loved one’s early warning signs of relapse
- Monitoring and noticing any changes
- Developing a family plan in advance, together with the loved one, for responding to the symptoms of possible relapse or an actual relapse
- Involving a medical professional when creating a relapse prevention plan
Do not hold unreasonable expectations for your spouse. You want to see your spouse live a sober life, and you want to help them achieve that. Many loved ones find themselves disappointed by a recovering addict when the progress that they make results in a relapse. But, to truly support your spouse in addiction recovery, you need to have an open mind.
LET US HELP YOUR LOVED ONE LIVE A BETTER LIFE
Better Life Recovery & Wellness is a premier provider of quality addiction and mental health recovery services focused on improving the total well-being of individuals and families.
We strive to provide the highest quality addiction recovery and mental health services to those struggling with the disease of addiction or for those with mental health concerns through positive, supportive and caring programs within a safe environment. Everyone deserves a better life.
At Better Life Recovery & Wellness, we believe that your treatment should be as individual as you are. That is why our therapists offer customized therapy programs for the individual client.
Therapy can treat an individual’s mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral concerns, including, but not limited to:
- Work issues
- Relationship issues
Are you or someone you care about struggling with mental health or addiction issues? Better Life Recovery & Wellness is here to help. We determine the best treatment option for each of our clients on an individual basis, as well as help you support your spouse in addiction recovery. Call us at 877-594-2752.