The disease of drug addiction is so powerful and invasive that it can completely destroy a person’s life. It can leave behind a trail of devastation that includes unemployment, homelessness, health problems, financial distress, and broken bonds between friends, family, and loved ones. For those who still actively battle with drug addiction, the list of repercussions of their use is endless. And while the drug user is experiencing the madness of addiction firsthand, those around him or her are also being deeply affected as well. Knowing how to help your husband struggling with a drug addiction is complex and unique to each person. However, learning about drug abuse and treatment options will make your decisions much easier.
Drug addiction is present in millions of marriages all over the globe. Every day, people yell, cry, and struggle with hopelessness in regard to their spouse’s drug addiction. While drug addiction does not discriminate or know any type of boundary, it is a disease that statistically impacts men more than women. Therefore, many people who are married to men experience this on a regular basis because their husbands are affected by it.
It is an understatement to say that it is “easy” to justify, ignore, or even willingly accept that your husband is a drug addict. When something as pervasive as drug addiction is staring you right in the face, your mind can play tricks on you. You might think “well, he had a hard day at work, he deserves to let off some steam,” or “at least he’s not using every single day”, or even “his problem is so big that there is no way I could ever change him”. This is all normal. It is even normal to be in complete and utter denial that your husband has a diagnosable drug addiction. But, the longer excuses are made or actions are ignored, the more likely you, your husband, and your family are to experience tremendous heartbreak and pain.
The most important thing you can do when you see that your spouse is using drugs is to educate yourself on what qualifies as a drug addiction. Your spouse may abuse drugs from time to time (e.g. at a party or a club) but is not addicted to them. Being aware of the difference can help you take the steps you need to get your husband the professional treatment he deserves.
How Do I Know If My Husband Has a Drug Addiction?
There are several ways to identify that your husband is struggling with drug addiction without having to intervene in any way. If your husband is addicted to drugs he or she may exhibit the following:
- Changes in behavior, such as becoming more irritable and agitated
- Overspending habits that lead to serious financial problems
- Stealing or engaging in illegal activity to fund his drug addiction
- Changes in who he hangs out with and what activities he participates/does not participate in
- Changes in appetite and sleep patterns (e.g. eating or sleeping too little or too much)
- Combative behavior when asked about his use, his whereabouts, or anything else that would shed light on how serious his drug use is
- Attempts to hide drugs and related paraphernalia
- Self-isolating behaviors as a result of using in private so others cannot see
- Problems at work that lead to disciplinary actions, demotion, or termination
- Lack of responsibility around the house, within your marriage, or in his relationships with his kids (if applicable)
- A strong desire to ensure that he is always able to use no matter what else is going on
- Deceitful behavior regarding doctor’s visits in an effort to obtain more prescription drugs (if that is what he is addicted to)
- Changes in physical appearance as related to the kind of drugs that are being abused
These are just some of the many signs of drug addiction that your husband may display. It is critical that you keep an eye out for these symptoms, as they can sometimes get lost in the chaos of everyday life and go unnoticed for a long period of time. If you feel that your husband is addicted to drugs, getting help is vital.
How Do I Help My Husband Overcome a Drug Addiction?
You might be thinking that there is nothing that you can possibly do to help your husband get treatment. You may have been too apprehensive to talk to him about in the past or you may have asked him to get help countless times. But no matter what you have or have not done in the past, it is important to know that you can affect change and help get your husband the treatment he needs.
There is no specific place to start when it comes to reaching out for help for your husband. Simply beginning the process is usually enough to get the ball rolling. Some of the most effective things you can do can include the following:
Include family members and/or close friends
There is power in numbers when it comes to drug addiction, as the more hands on deck the better. Not only will you have more people working towards the goal of getting your husband help, but you will also have a built-in support network for yourself during this time. Asking yourself to be the sole contributor in getting your husband into treatment is a huge responsibility that does not have to be a reality
Contact an interventionist
An interventionist can help you plan out the specific steps that need to be taken in order for your husband to accept help. He or she will work to bring your family together, help you determine boundaries and learn how to uphold them, and connect you with treatment providers. He or she will also conduct an intervention with your husband, helping to guide the conversation so it remains productive and focused on the goal of getting treatment.
Reach out to a local treatment center
Spend time connecting with treatment centers to see what they can do to help. Find out how many beds they have available, when your husband could enroll, what services they provide, what insurance they accept, etc. Speaking to a treatment center in your area can also help connect you to other resources in the area that may be able to help.
Talk to his doctor/therapist
If your husband has a primary care physician and/or a therapist, do not hesitate to reach out to them. You will likely be unable to obtain any information about your husband from them due to HIPAA regulations, but you can certainly inform them of what is going on. This is particularly helpful if one of these providers is prescribing your husband a medication he is abusing. Your husband’s doctor and/or therapist may want to call him in for an evaluation, allowing them to encourage him to get the help he needs.
Talk to your husband
If you are able to speak with your husband when he is not under the influence or combative, do it. Share your concerns with him and tell him that you want him to get professional help. Maintain a compassionate, caring tone and avoid attacking, blaming, or judgment. Your husband may become upset during this conversation, but prepare yourself to remain calm. Your goal is to encourage him to get help, not engage in an argument.
Living with a drug addicted husband can be painstaking and completely overwhelming, there is no doubt about that. But, during the time you are actively trying to secure his treatment and getting him to accept, do everything you can to remain level-headed. This is a huge ask of anyone during a time like this, but allowing the emotions this disease has caused to threaten your efforts will do nothing but make the situation more complicated. Instead, speak with a therapist, friends, or family who you can vent to and decompress with so that you are able to focus on the end game of getting your husband into treatment.
What Can I Expect When My Husband is in Treatment?
If your husband agrees to get treatment for his drug addiction, you are probably feeling extremely relieved. You might even sleep better the first night he is in treatment than you have in a long time. This is because all your work in getting your husband to accept help has finally worked, and you should be proud of your efforts. But now that he has entered into a treatment program, what comes next?
At the beginning of your husband’s journey towards recovery, he will be assessed to determine what his specific treatment needs are. If he is dependent on drugs and requires detox services, then he will begin detox prior to doing anything else in the program. Once he has cleared his system of drugs, he will transition into the therapeutic portion of his care, where he may engage in therapies like behavioral therapy, group counseling, motivational interviewing, etc. The types of therapies that he will be involved in will be reflective of his needs. If participating in a residential treatment program, he will live at the facility for the duration of his treatment. You will be allowed to visit and spend time with him, but he will not return home until he completes the program. Based on what he needs from treatment, he may stay at the facility for 30, 60, or 90 days.
There are outpatient options for addiction treatment, too. These options allow your husband to continue to live at home and engage in his everyday life while also being treated for his drug addiction. Outpatient treatment is not for everyone, however, has been proven to be effective for those who are not dependent on drugs, have a stable place to live, have a good support system, and who are not experiencing a severe substance use disorder.
If your husband is enrolled in an outpatient program, you can expect that his therapy will become a vital part of his regular schedule. Most outpatient treatment programs run anywhere from 6-8 weeks and require patients to go to the facility a few times per week for therapy sessions. In the event that your husband needs more care than what is provided through traditional outpatient treatment, he can enroll in an intensive outpatient program (IOP), where he will spend nearly every day at the facility obtaining treatment. At this time, he will likely not be able to continue working or remain a steady presence at home, as the majority of his time will be spent at the facility (even though he will not be residing there). Depending on his course of care, your husband may participate in therapies such as group counseling, individual therapy, experiential therapy, or behavioral therapy, to name a few. Patients typically only spend a couple of hours at the facility on the days they are required to attend, allowing them to continue to do things such as work, uphold household responsibilities, and be present for life events. When your husband completes his program, he will be encouraged to continue on in his recovery by attending local support group meetings (like NA) and/or seeing a therapist regularly.
Prior to your husbands completion of his treatment, the specialists at the treatment center will help develop an aftercare plan for him. If he is finishing a residential program, part of his aftercare plan may be to transition down into a different level of care, such as an outpatient program. If he is leaving a treatment program entirely, he may receive recommendations regarding his daily life, such as what meetings to attend, how to structure his workdays, what coping skills he can utilize, etc.
What Do I Do If My Husband Does Not Accept Help?
Your husband’s refusal to get help would be the worst-case scenario, which is why it is imperative that you prepare for what to do if that becomes a reality. Depending on how serious his addiction is, you can choose how severe your response will be. For example, if your loved one is a functioning drug addict (meaning that they are still able to uphold their everyday lives) you may take a mild approach. This can include setting some rules and boundaries in the house, such as no using at home, no driving while under the influence, and no excess spending to support his use. For people with milder drug addictions, these boundaries can work to encourage them towards accepting treatment, as upholding these boundaries can be too difficult. But, in many cases, a person’s refusal to get help is usually because he or she is so deeply involved in drug use that the idea of stopping is more terrifying than the consequences that can be incurred.
If your husband will not get help for his drug addiction and all reasonable efforts of yours have been tried (such as those above), you can benefit from preparing for much more serious action on your behalf. This can include giving him the ultimatum of either stopping use or losing you and his family. Ultimatums only work when they are carried out, so, if you are unsure of whether your husband will accept help or not when asked, it is important to be prepared. For example, have a bag packed and a place to stay secured and leave the home if he does not accept treatment. Taking significant action like that can help raise the bottom and encourage your husband to accept help after all. Getting to this point in your marriage is extremely upsetting, so ensuring you have support at this time is ideal. When determining what your next steps might be, do not be shy in involving a professional like an interventionist or addiction specialist who can help you make additional decisions.
What Type of Help Can I Get For Myself and My Family?
It can be infuriating to start looking into ways to get help for yourself when your husband is the one who is addicted to drugs. This is especially true if you are dealing with anger and resentment towards him and his actions. But, it is imperative to remember that getting help for yourself and your family has nothing to do with your husband, rather it is about you finding ways to cope and develop your own sense of inner peace. No matter if your husband gets treatment or not, you can benefit greatly from getting help for yourself and your loved ones who have been impacted by the drug addiction. You can get help by doing any one (or all) of the following:
Reach out to your therapist
Start scheduling as many appointments as you and your therapist think is best to accommodate your mental wellbeing during this time. If you do not have a therapist, there is no better time than right now to look for one. There are mental health specialists available in all corners of the country, so finding someone local who can help you should be easy.
Ask for help from the treatment center
If your husband is in a program, inquire about what services the facility provides for loved ones of addicts. Chances are, the facility will have a family program or specific services designed to help you and your loved ones deal with your husband’s drug addiction and its impacts. Arguably one of the greatest benefits of getting help through a family program is being able to go through it with other families who can relate to what you are experiencing. The support that can be obtained from those individuals (and vice versa) is priceless.
Attend community support groups like Nar-Anon
Within these groups, you can share your experiences and feelings, as well as listen to testimonies of others who are also walking the same road at you. Nar-Anon and other support groups usually are home to several gems of wisdom that can keep people motivated and dedicated to their own wellbeing, which is essential when drug addiction is occurring or has occurred.
Getting help for yourself does not end when your husband gets sober. If your husband does get into recovery and starts to maintain it, there will still be several challenges ahead. Continuing to seek support is ideal even when the active use is no longer occurring.
Get Professional Addiction Treatment Right Now at JourneyPure
If your husband is addicted to drugs, you do not need to sit idly by. Reach out to us at JourneyPure to learn more about how we can help your husband, as well as you and your family. We are here for you, so call us right now. We can help.
Michelle Rosenker is a content writer for JourneyPure where she gets to exercise her journalistic skills by working with different addiction treatment centers nationwide. She has 10 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment and mental health and has written content for some of the country’s most prominent treatment centers and behavioral hospitals. Through her writing, Michelle is proud to continually raise awareness about the disease of addiction and share hope for the future. She lives next to the ocean in Massachusetts with her husband, two young children, and faithful dog.