How to Help My Addict Husband: Supportive Steps for Families in Crisis

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Jeanna discovered her husband had started misusing drugs a few months after they got married. Not knowing what to do, she consulted with a couples therapist and addiction counselor. Jeanna held an intervention for her husband and set boundaries on their relationship to encourage him to seek treatment. Her husband participated in a rehabilitation program, and with Jeanna's loving support, her husband successfully achieved sobriety. Jeanna and her husband healed together under the guidance of trained addiction recovery specialists. Treatment programs at Pathways Recovery Center help families in crisis overcome challenges and recover from substance use disorder (SUD).

Untreated substance misuse damages healthy relationships and can lead to divorce, separation, or codependent behaviors. A spouse provides essential emotional support, accountability, and motivation for their husband during treatment and ongoing recovery. Early intervention and professional treatment is the best way to help a loved one with SUD. Pathways Recovery Center uses evidence-based treatments to guide couples through repairing their relationships and healing together from the effects of substance misuse. The expert clinicians are dedicated to helping individuals and families in and around Azusa, California.

Understanding Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

SUD is a mental health disorder. The symptoms of SUD affect behavior, brain activity, physical health, and emotional stability. Side effects of SUD may impact a person's relationships, career, and personal health. 

Couples experiencing substance abuse have a higher risk of the following: 

  • Legal issues related to substance misuse 
  • Separation or divorce
  • Domestic violence
  • Unhealthy family dynamics
  • Children being removed from the home

Millions of families struggle with substance abuse each year. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), "Drug use—including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, as well as prescription drug misuse and illicit opioids—among adults is on the rise." Being able to recognize the signs of substance abuse in a loved one makes it easier to know when to reach out to professionals in mental health and addiction recovery.

Recognizing the Signs of Addiction in Your Husband

Substance misuse causes changes in mood, behavior, and temperament. Each substance has different symptoms and side effects. In addition, many people misuse multiple substances. For example, alcohol is often misused alongside drugs. The symptoms and warning signs of addiction vary. 

A spouse may notice some or all of the following symptoms if their husband abuses alcohol or drugs: 

  • Unusual irritation, anger, or aggression
  • Extreme and frequent mood swings
  • Wearing layers and long sleeves to cover needle marks, bruising, or other injuries caused by substance misuse 
  • Frequent flu-like symptoms, including nausea, headache, tremors, excessive sweating, and muscle aches 
  • Appetite changes leading to significant weight loss or gain 
  • Social isolation, including withdrawing from friends and family 
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Stealing, borrowing money, or manipulating others into providing financial support 
  • Stashing alcohol or other substances for future use
  • "Doctor shopping" to get multiple prescriptions for the same medication
  • Slurred speech 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Fatigue 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Manic energy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Involuntary eye or muscle movements 
  • Memory problems, including difficulty remembering or following instructions 

A spouse knows when something is off with their husband. Strange behaviors, new routines, and a change in temperament may be signs of mental health issues, including SUD. Addiction recovery experts often encourage partners to follow their gut and seek help if they believe something is wrong. Professional mental health and addiction recovery interventions and education are available to individuals concerned about their husband's health. Pathways Recovery Center offers family support services and comprehensive assessments to accurately diagnose and treat SUD and co-occurring conditions. 

Navigating Your Emotions and Well-Being

Partners often feel blindsided by their husband's addictive behaviors. The situation may cause a spouse to feel socially isolated, helpless, guilty, and angry about how their loved one's substance misuse has affected their relationship. Self-care is one of the best ways to reduce the negative impact of a loved one's substance misuse. 

Typical forms of self-care include: 

  • Relying on a support system 
  • Spending time in quiet meditation or contemplation
  • Participating in healthy activities and hobbies
  • Spending time with loved ones 
  • Engaging in empowering and supporting social activities 
  • Participating in individual and family therapy

A partner can support their husband and help them recover from SUD while maintaining self-care and healthy routines. Husbands may feel guilty for taking time away from family to participate in treatment. By prioritizing self-care and maintaining positive mental health, a spouse reduces pressure on their loved one. Treatment often works best when couples heal together by attending family and individual therapy sessions. Couples collaborate closely with the care team to ensure both their needs are met. 

Effective Communication Strategies

Some spouses may feel uncertain about how to approach the topic of addiction. Confrontations are unproductive and cause more harm than good. The best way to approach the issue of suspected substance misuse is by being objective, using nonjudgmental language, and providing specific examples of maladaptive behaviors. Often, spouses have an easier time discussing their concerns with their husbands if they first consult a mental health or addiction recovery expert like the ones at Pathways Recovery Center. 

Family members who want to help loved ones experiencing substance misuse should practice empathy, compassion, and patience. A partner may find it challenging to be patient and nonjudgmental when their husband lies about their activities or endangers their livelihoods and relationships with risk-taking behaviors. Finding the right balance between holding a loved one accountable for their actions and remaining supportive can be difficult sometimes. The language, nonverbal cues, and the location where the conversations are held all play a role in how a husband responds to discussions about their substance abuse and need for treatment. 

A spouse can encourage their husband to be more open about their struggles by doing the following: 

  • Normalizing conversations about mental health 
  • Sharing concerns about how underlying issues, including chronic stress or trauma, may affect their health and providing information on treatment options
  • Hosting an intervention with the help of recovery experts 
  • Being honest about how their husband's behavior has affected everyday life and the relationship

Discussing potential addictive behaviors with a loved one is a delicate topic. Sometimes, even the best intentions can cause people who misuse substances to draw further away. Therapists and other clinicians provide insights and guidance to partners concerned about their husband's behaviors. 

Partners who want to open up lines of communication can try open-ended conversation starters, including: 

  • "I've noticed some changes recently and wondered if we could talk about it." 
  • "Is there anything you are struggling with right now that you want to discuss?" 
  • "How have you been feeling lately?" 

When using open-ended questions to start a conversation, avoiding emotional outbursts, subjective claims, or judgmental language is important. Calm, objective, and honest communication provides the best results during family interventions. Many husbands only seek professional mental health treatment after being encouraged by friends and family. 

The Value of Residential Treatment and Detox

Pathways Recovery Center offers residential recovery programs for individuals with substance use disorder and co-occurring conditions. The clinical team provides families with the resources and information they need to make educated decisions about their treatment and recovery. 

A residential program is often best for couples with relationship issues caused by substance abuse. The structure and controlled environment of the center allows clients to focus more fully on healing while their spouse receives support in the form of family therapy and other services. Sometimes, families benefit from having some physical distance during detox and the early stages of recovery. Being able to redirect all energy to achieving physical and emotional stability provides husbands with the time they need to begin establishing healthier routines. The care team guides couples through the process of supporting one another during treatment.

Medical-Assisted Detox Treatment

Most people with SUD start their recovery by participating in detox and withdrawal treatment. Pathways Recovery Center offers a premier detox program in Azusa, California. 

Detox involves several stages, including: 

  • Initial evaluation
  • Stabilization
  • Preparation for transportation to residential treatment 

Clients in detox treatment have access to the following: 

  • 24/7 medical supervision and support 
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Individual and group therapy 
  • Peer support 

Clinicians at Pathways Recovery Center use evidence-based methods to help clients establish and maintain sobriety. The dedicated care team collaborates closely with clients and their families, providing a truly individualized experience. High-quality services and compassionate clinicians set the center apart from other treatment facilities in California. The residential programs offer an immersive healing environment where clients are provided with the tools and resources they need to support long-term recovery. 

Couples are educated about the realities of substance misuse and the treatment process. Most people in recovery transition through multiple levels of care to ensure they feel confident in maintaining sobriety when they return home. Loved ones play a vital role in supporting recovery. According to SAMHSA, "While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for helping a family member who is drinking too much, using drugs, or dealing with a mental illness, research shows that family support can play a major role in helping a loved one with mental and substance use disorders."

Preparing for the Treatment Journey

Spouses often play an essential role in preparing clients for treatment. The transition into treatment is more manageable if clients feel supported by their loved ones and have someone at home able to maintain everyday household responsibilities. 

A partner can help prepare their husband for treatment by doing the following: 

  • Reassuring them everything at home will be taken care of 
  • Attending 12-Step or other support meetings for family and friends of individuals with SUD
  • Reassuring them the relationship will benefit from treatment 
  • Avoiding putting pressure on loved ones to meet specific recovery goals 
  • Making sure they understand what to expect from treatment by providing details about the program

A spouse's expectations may cause unnecessary pressure on their husband during treatment. To set attainable goals and expectations, partners must educate themselves on addictive behaviors and the various stages of recovery. The care team ensures clients and their loved ones know what to expect from each program. Clients should feel safe and supported during treatment and ongoing recovery. Clinicians help families motivate and encourage loved ones through family therapy and other services. 

Partners often use their husband's time in residential treatment to prepare the home and their relationship for long-term recovery. One of the best ways to do that is by attending individual counseling and family therapy sessions. 

Many spouses also do the following to support their loved ones before they transition into treatment: 

  • Help them prepare to take time off work or school 
  • Ensure monthly tasks, bills, or other responsibilities are covered
  • Help them pack essentials for their stay in residential treatment

Clients in residential treatment rely on their loved ones to care for things at home, allowing them to focus entirely on healing and personal growth. 

The Importance of Family Involvement in Recovery

Personalized treatment programs use family-centered approaches to care for couples who might benefit from additional support. According to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW), "A family-centered approach provides a comprehensive array of clinical treatment and related support services that meet the needs of each family member, not just the individual requesting care." Spousal support significantly increases the effectiveness of treatment. Clients at Pathways Recovery Center are encouraged to use family therapy and other services to strengthen their relationships before transitioning out of care. 

Family therapy provides couples with a safe space for sharing their concerns. The clinical team uses family services to educate clients and their loved ones about what to expect during treatment and aftercare. In addition, family therapy allows couples to address underlying issues that may have contributed to the substance abuse. Pathways Recovery Center is dedicated to providing a holistic healing experience for families in recovery. 

Moving Forward: Aftercare and Continuous Support

The post-treatment phase of recovery occurs after clients have completed rehabilitation and transitioned out of care. In some cases, clients use aftercare services to continue receiving guidance and support as they begin to maintain sobriety outside the structure of the program. 

Some common post-treatment and alumni services for couples include: 

  • Individual and group therapy 
  • Family therapy 
  • Support groups 

Clients in post-treatment may need help navigating aspects of their relationship, including rebuilding trust, maintaining sobriety, and preventing relapse. Couples accomplish these goals by doing the following:

  • Relying on their support system 
  • Maintaining open lines of communication
  • Being honest and transparent with one another 
  • Asking for help when things start to feel overwhelming
  • Becoming an active part of the recovery community and engaging with peers 

Pathways Recovery Center continues to provide support services to couples in post-treatment. The clinical team is dedicated to ensuring all clients have the best possible outcome. Alumni services make sure couples know they have someone on their side to help them through difficult moments in early recovery. 

Maintaining New Routines at Home

Treatment programs give couples the tools they need to create a healthier lifestyle. However, establishing new routines at home is not always easy. Post-treatment is a vulnerable time for many people, and remaining in contact with the care team through aftercare services reduces stress and makes it easier for couples to focus on moving forward in their recovery. 

Aftercare and alumni services are not the only options couples have to choose from when looking for additional guidance and support. A few other places couples can turn to include: 

  • Support groups for friends and families of people in recovery 
  • Online support resources, including telehealth therapy and online support groups
  • Local community centers and clinics 

Partners can support their husbands through every step of treatment and long-term recovery. The programs at Pathways Recovery Center prioritize family participation and offer couples the resources, skill development, and tools they need to uplift one another and heal together. 

Couples often face many challenges during early recovery from substance use disorder. A spouse may feel overwhelmed or uncertain about how to show their love and support. Most couples require individual and family therapy to successfully repair damage to the relationship caused by substance misuse. Healing together strengthens relationships and helps couples grow closer. Pathways Recovery Center provides clients and their families with therapy and other support services. Couples are encouraged to support one another while prioritizing self-care and positive mental health. The care team collaborates closely with clients and their loved ones to ensure the best possible outcomes. To learn more about our programs and services, call us today at (888) 771-0966.

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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