One of the toughest problems faced by families today is learning that a husband, wife, son, daughter or another loved one, has a substance addiction. Whether the addiction is to alcohol or drugs makes little difference to those that are forced to deal with the problem. Upon learning the news of the addiction, the reaction is often shock, anger, guilt and dismay.
Coping with a partner that has a substance addiction can turn your life upside down. You may feel that the trust that was built throughout the relationship is gone.
Part of any substance addiction will involve your spouse going to great lengths to hide their addiction. While it may seem like a logical solution to separate from an addict, it’s usually not that simple. You’ve invested a life with this person, and you love them. You share a life together and there may be children involved.
Being a partner of an addict can be a very difficult situation if you don’t have the right support. You may put yourself at risk of being in a co-dependent relationship and addressing your spouse’s addiction may feel overwhelming. Chances are, you probably don’t know what to say, and this can leave you having to deal with a miserable home or family life.
If your partner abuses a substance, they will most likely shut down communication with you to hide their addiction. Substance abuse and addiction leads to unhappy relationships, further problems for everyone involved and sometimes separation or divorce. But a relationship can survive addiction. It starts with knowing how to read the signs and symptoms of substance abuse.
Common signs of abuse or addiction
Change in sleep patterns – An addicted partner is going to dramatically affect you. Your relationship will suffer deeply and often you won’t even be sleeping with them. People who are abusing drugs or alcohol can sleep for long stretches of time when not using and stay up for days on end when they are high. Lack of sleep can cause irritability and an inability to work or function properly.
Disordered eating – Living with an addict you love can be very concerning. Using drugs and alcohol can cause metabolic changes in the body. Someone who abuses alcohol may gain a lot of weight while illicit drug users may lose weight quickly. How addiction affects your partner is often a sense of concern. This is especially true when your partner stops eating altogether.
Hygienic habits change – When someone is in the throes of addiction, they may start to ignore some essential self-care habits, including hygiene. If you are noticing less self-attention, like showering such or not doing laundry, this may be a red flag. When you wonder why do addicts hurt the ones they love, know that their lack of care for themselves proves they’re not even loving themselves.
Eyes – Eyes can become itchy, dry, and bloodshot. If your partner is a heavy drinker, they may have depleted the body’s nutrients that would normally promote eye health. Signs like this are an important step to knowing how to deal with a partner with addiction. When confronted, they won’t be able to deny the physical symptoms you can clearly see.
Substances and drug paraphernalia – If these items are found around the house, car and/or office, it’s a certain indicator that substance abuse is taking place. If you are a partner of an addict, be conscious of these items hiding around the house.
Emotional and Behavioural Symptoms of Addiction
Acting secretively or suspiciously – Partners will begin to act secretively because they are hiding something. Supporting a partner in addiction can take a lot of patience because you’re constantly being lied to. Drug use can cause people to not act like they would normally. In efforts to hide their addiction, they may act more secretive or lie.
Mood swings – Your addicted partner will be going through major changes in their life as they get more dependent on their drug of choice. The up’s and down’s of high’s and withdrawals can make someone upset and irritable. If you notice mood swings, anxiety, or unreasonable reactions to events, take note. When dealing with a drug addict partner, you may find that they are remorseful one moment and, on the defence, the next. As symptoms of addiction intensify, they will go through more extreme withdrawals. This can cause depression, irritability, fatigue, and anxiety.
No longer interested in hobbies – You may notice when living with an addict that they stop doing the things they used to do. They lose interest in things that used to matter. When drugs or alcohol are abused, addicts often give up their normal hobbies like reading, exercising, playing video games or sports. This is also a big red flag for adolescents who may stop attending their extracurricular activities.
No longer motivated – A drug or alcohol abuser may no longer be motivated to do basic things like chores, shower and go to work or school. When not using, they may be lethargic and depressed. When your addicted spouse is addicted to substances, the brain becomes affected. The dopamine levels that are heightened through drug use stop being naturally produced. This causes an overall exhaustion and fatigue that make it hard to do anything.
Poor job performance – One of the hardest parts on how to deal with a partner with addiction is the fear that they will lose their job. Addicts can get to the point where all they care about is getting their substance of choice. Their workplace may be reaching out to you or giving warnings to your partner on their work performance. They may be taking more unexplained time off or leaving work early.
What Can I Do To Help An Addict?
If someone you love has a problem with addiction, there are some things you can do to help:
- Express your concerns about your loved one’s problem in a caring way. Don’t argue, lecture, accuse, or threaten. Try to remain neutral and understanding.
- Take action. Consider staging a family meeting or an intervention.
- Don’t make excuses. Don’t make it easier for your partner to use a substance by lying to protect them from the consequences of them using.
- Stay positive. Addiction is treatable and you may want to learn about what kinds of treatment are available and discuss these options with your loved one.
- Don’t blame yourself. Remember that you are not to blame for their addiction, and you can’t control it. Allow your partner to take responsibility.
- Be safe. Don’t put yourself in dangerous situations and have a friend you can call for assistance if you need it.
- Encourage your partner to get help, but try not to be too demanding.
It’s important to remember your addicted partner isn’t who they used to be. Part of the addiction is to only live for their high, and although you should not forgive them for the things they do while high, it’s important to detach yourself. They must be allowed to suffer the consequences of their addiction, and you must be allowed to live your life safely away from their drug abuse.
The most important thing you can do is have an honest conversation with them and help them get on top of their addiction. Only then will they be able to get the help they need.
Counselling@Voxen can identify several tools you can utilise in order to ease the strain on your relationship with somebody who suffers from addiction. Make an appointment with us today to get the advice you need quickly.