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What to Do When Both You and Your Spouse Struggle With Addiction

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There is now little argument that addiction is a chronic disease rather than some type of personal choice or moral failing. It is also understood that addiction is a “family disease” that can affect everyone in the home. This is true whether it is one person or multiple people in the family who struggle with addiction. However, if it is multiple people, such as both spouses, it is important that the right steps are taken to get them each the right help that they need.

Understanding Addiction in the Home

It has been said that when an individual struggles with addiction they become “like a tornado devastating everyone and everything in their path.” This is especially true regarding how they affect their own family members.

The family is often closest to the addictive behaviors, thus they are often the most affected. According to the peer-reviewed journal, Social Work in Public Health, “The family remains the primary source of attachment, nurturing, and socialization for humans in our current society. Therefore, the impact of substance use disorders (SUDs) on the family and individual family members merits attention. Each family and each family member is uniquely affected by the individual using substances including but not limited to having unmet developmental needs, impaired attachment, economic hardship, legal problems, emotional distress, and sometimes violence being perpetrated against him or her.”

The reality is that having two people in the home who struggle with addiction raises the stakes and temperature of the situation. Often this is because the individuals end up enabling each other and supporting each other’s damaging addictive behaviors. This is especially true when those two people are spouses.

What to Do When Both Spouses Struggle With Addiction

It is not uncommon for one spouse to realize that they have a problem with alcohol or substances before the other does. This makes that individual’s ability to get help tricky, because the spouse who is not ready for recovery may hold them back.

It can also be very difficult for one spouse to get help while the other is in active addiction because there may be no one left to handle the family’s affairs. This is even more so when there are children involved.

The important thing to remember is that addiction is a chronic disease, and as a chronic disease, it is almost always going to get worse without some type of professional intervention. It may take outside help, but when one spouse is ready to get help, they need to act on it immediately. The window can often close quickly, so it is important to take advantage of it. Also, when one spouse gets help, they can become a prime example of the positive effects that recovery can have.

Recovery as a Personal Journey

Whether it is only one, or both, each spouse must start their recovery journey on their own. This is the best way to ensure that all of their specific needs are met.

Also, this will ensure that one spouse will not enable or negatively influence the other. Healing separately also creates the right foundation for when couples become ready to heal together.

Recovering Together

Once spouses who struggle with addiction get the help that they need separately, then they can begin the process of recovering together. However, it is important to remember that each person continues to practice their own recovery plan. This may include individual therapy sessions and attending specific recovery meetings (for example, specific men’s or women’s meetings in a 12-Step program).

Recovering together will most likely involve couples therapy, and eventually, if there are other members of the family, family therapy. These types of therapy allow for the types of safe spaces for spouses who struggle with addiction to work out their issues together and with a recovery professional overseeing the process.

Couples can also create relapse prevention plans together. This includes setting boundaries and sticking to them. For example, if one spouse relapses and brings alcohol or substances into the house, it may be agreed upon that they must leave until they choose to get the help they need. This may seem harsh, but it is important to remember that it is for the safety and well-being of everyone involved.

At Lantana Recovery You Don’t Have to Struggle With Addiction Anymore

Spousal union is one of the most sacred acts a couple can take. That sacred nature must be honored in all aspects of life, including when it becomes time for one or both of them to seek the treatment that they need.

At Lantana Recovery, we understand the importance of spousal and family dynamics when it comes to recovery, which is why we always include each family member in the recovery process. Just like marriage, recovery is a journey, and it is always better when it is taken together.

It is not uncommon for couples to co-struggle with addiction. However, when this dynamic arises, it is important to take certain steps to ensure that both parties get the help they need to achieve long-term recovery. The first step is ensuring that each person gets the individual help that they need. The second step is continuing the healing process together. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get you on the right track to recovery. You don’t have to do this alone. For more information about healing the whole family, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.