Can My Marriage Survive Drug Addiction?

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Can My Marriage Survive Drug Addiction?

One of the most concerning public health problems in the United States happens to be drug addiction. With millions of Americans struggling with substance abuse daily, many married couples are feeling the effects of addiction. Regardless of how mild or severe an individual’s drug addiction is, it will impact their marriage in a variety of ways. Whatever the case may be, with the help of professional treatment, your marriage can survive drug addiction.

Married couples struggling with addiction may feel as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Oftentimes, addiction affects marriage by making spouses feel detached from their partners, lonely, and scared for what the future may hold. However, like any marriage, the survival of the relationship depends on how dedicated each partner is to each other and themselves.

In other words, successful marriages are a team effort. Unfortunately, without intervention, marriages impacted by drug addiction often end in separation or divorce. But, this does not have to be the case. With professional treatment and couples therapy, any marriage can survive and recover from addiction.

The Effects of Being Married to an Addict

The disease of addiction can be heartbreaking, overwhelming, and permanently life-changing. It is because of this, that many people never want to find themselves addicted to drugs or married to an addict. Watching your partner, husband, or wife struggle with the disease of addiction often puts a massive strain on your marriage. Living with an addict may be even harder. Additionally, addiction might prevent you and your spouse from taking care of each other and working as a team.

Unfortunately, many married couples across America have struggled with addiction and decided to end their marriage and relationship altogether. With that being said, whenever addiction and substance abuse are present, the dissolution of marriage is possible.

As the partner, husband, or wife of an addict, you will face many obstacles daily. Trust and respect are key aspects of a healthy marriage. Oftentimes, these key aspects are lost as a result of drug addiction and substance abuse. This might lead to constant mistrust, anger, sadness, loneliness, and resentment. Additionally, communication may become ineffective and combative, causing frequent arguments and confusion. All of these feelings can lead to separation or divorce if they are left unaddressed and untreated.

While this is difficult to understand, being married to an addicted spouse causes you to become unwell too. It is impossible to witness and deal with the effects of addiction without being negatively impacted at the same time. While you might believe you can preserve your well-being during your partner’s substance abuse, the lasting effects of this disease make this seem like an insurmountable task.

Signs of Drug Abuse in Spouses

Once you begin to suspect that your partner, husband, or wife is abusing drugs, you have likely already witnessed one or more behavioral signs of addiction. While each substance will come with varying effects, there are general signs of addiction that you can look for. In general, the signs of drug addiction include:

  • Secretive behavior. This might include being dishonest about the number of drugs being used, how frequently, and when.
  • Becoming socially isolated from others, withdrawing from previously enjoyed activities or hobbies, and being less open during communication.
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, such as laundry, dishes, taking care of pets, cleaning, etc.
  • Slacking on personal hygiene habits such as brushing their teeth, bathing, and wearing clean clothes.
  • Using money to buy drugs that were promised to be for things such as bills, groceries, household supplies, etc.
  • Taking money from savings accounts, 401k’s, or important funds without your knowledge or permission.
  • Behaving deceitfully all of a sudden. This could include asking for money for gas but instead using it to buy drugs.
  • Experiencing changes in temperament, sleeping patterns, and eating behaviors.
  • Falling behind at work, being disciplined at work, or being fired due to drug abuse in the workplace.
  • Development or increase in symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.

How to Help an Addicted Spouse

If the marriage is to survive, the addicted individual must receive and accept help. While you cannot fix your partner’s drug addiction, there are ways you can help them to help themselves. Let’s take a look at the best ways to help an addicted spouse and save your marriage.

Get Educated on Addiction and Treatment

The first thing you should do is become educated on the disease of addiction, its causes, and effects, as well as how it can be treated. The more you learn about drug addiction, the more you’ll understand how it is treated and how you can help your partner recover.

While it is difficult to separate emotion from a loved one’s addiction, being aware of how addiction causes the brain to function and causes your spouse to behave, might make things more manageable.

Set Boundaries

While it is human nature to want to take care of someone who is sick, adopting this type of behavior will only make your spouse’s addiction worse. It is possible to love an addict without enabling them. The most helpful thing you can do is set strict boundaries with clear-cut consequences for when those boundaries are broken.

For example, you should not allow drug use in the home, take over control of shared finances, refuse to help him/her/them out of a bad situation caused by his/her/their drug use, and put a priority on your own self-care.

Utilize Local Resources

When your spouse’s drug addiction continues to intensify, it’s time to contact local resources such as therapists, doctors, and professional addiction treatment centers. By speaking with professionals, you can begin planning how to get your addicted spouse some help. Additionally, support groups like Al-Anon provide the loved ones of addicts with the support and advice they need to stay sane. Consider attending these meetings and put your own well-being first.

Plan a Professional Intervention

Interventionists are professionally trained to help individuals struggling with drug addiction to accept treatment. If your spouse is having a hard time accepting that they need help, professional interventions may be your last option.

At New Jersey Interventions, we help families and their addicted loved ones voice their concerns, offer support, and reach an agreement regarding professional addiction treatment. Contact us today for more information on how a marriage can survive drug addiction, how spouses can help, and how to get started with a professional drug addiction intervention.

Medically Reviewed: November 4, 2020

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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