It’s estimated that over 21 million Americans have some kind of addiction. If you think about how social all humans are, that means there are millions of families and friend groups affected by addiction– probably even more than what we think. Any relationship with an addict can be challenging, but that’s especially true when a marriage is affected by an addicted spouse. Drug and alcohol abuse can be a major trial in marriages and has caused marriages to fail all around the world. But does that mean all marriages are doomed once addiction becomes an issue? Can a marriage survive drug addiction?

How Addictions Affect Marriage and Relationships

Substance abuse doesn’t only take a toll on the addicted person themselves, but also on the loved ones and family members in his or her life. While someone with a drug or alcohol addiction is simply trying to get by and deal with their physical or mental dependencies, their family and friends often silently witness their spiral of becoming overtaken by drugs or alcohol. This can be painful and difficult to watch, especially when it is the one person you feel closest to and most relationally committed to in life. 

More often than not, addiction affects behavior, emotions, and mental function. Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol can break their honesty, integrity and the trust of those they love. As a way to cover up the shame many addicts feel, they tend to lie and try to protect themselves. The brain becomes influenced by the substance use disorder– in other words, the person no longer relates as they used to. They start to see and operate life through the lens of their active addiction. 

newlyweds sitting on a picnic at sunset

Of course, these can all become difficult to live with. Trying to support a family, navigate finances, work, and maintain a healthy marriage are no tasks to be taken on alone. The marriage dynamic takes two and requires constant support and open communication. With addiction, though, these can all get put on the backburner as the sober spouse takes on the brunt of responsibility. 

So How Can A Marriage Survive Drug Addiction? 

If you’re the spouse or partner of an addict, it’s crucial to know there are ways to take care of yourself in this situation so you don’t burn out. Many husbands or wives who are married to an addict tend to become codependent, enabling, or simply give too much of themselves to try to compensate for their slightly-absent other half.

Here are some points of advice for someone married to an addicted person:

  • Support Groups. Anonymous group meetings like Al-Anon give a safe space to share, vent, and hear from others who are in similar situations. Many people have someone in their family who has some kind of addiction. Having a supportive group of peers who understand can bring comfort and accountability. 
  • Stop enabling addiction. You may need to set some strict boundaries with your addicted spouse to let them know you won’t be supporting their addictions anymore. If you clean up your wife’s mess after a drunken rage, or you find yourself lying to your family about your husband’s actions when he is high, those are all subtle but real forms of enabling. Sometimes it can go as far as needing to get a separate bank account so your spouse can no longer spend your money on drugs or alcohol. 
  • Counseling or Therapy. Different types of therapy can help you process and stay stable during this difficult time. Whether it’s solo therapy or your spouse agrees to attend therapy with you, having a professional you can relate to and trust can be life-changing!

young married couple being affectionate

  • Interventions or Treatment Options. A lot of times it can be hard to communicate directly with your spouse if he or she is under the influence of their addiction. Holding an intervention or strategizing some form of drug addiction treatment for your spouse can give them a light at the end of the tunnel through their habits. 
  • Remember to Care for Yourself! This might seem impossible through a rough time and worrying about your spouse. But it’s important to take care of yourself. You don’t want to burn out, feel “crazy” or isolate yourself away from loved ones, as that’s not healthy for any individual. You still deserve to live a fulfilling life, enjoy hobbies, and de-stress in whatever ways feel best to you. 

It’s possible for a marriage to survive drug addiction. It’s not an easy road, but it can happen if both partners are committed to working through it. 

couple spinning in the grass

There is no one-solution answer to the question, “Can a marriage survive drug addiction?” That depends on the relationship and the personal intentions of each spouse. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to realize you need a major come-up in life. Other times, it might simply be a huge lesson to move on from an unhealthy situation you don’t want to stay in forever. Seeking the help you need is the most important step in trying to save a marriage through drug addiction. 

If you or your spouse needs help overcoming an addiction, call us for help at 949-625-4019.

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