I Married an Addict. Can My Marriage Survive?


Recovering from an addiction makes for one of the toughest challenges most people ever face.  And managing the stress it puts on a marriage can be especially difficult. Here are some strategies for navigating the journey together.  


Engaging help

Marriage can be tough under the best of circumstances, but when your spouse is struggling with an addiction, you face added struggles.  Getting your loved one into a treatment program may be your first challenge. Oftentimes when those with an addiction or substance abuse issue are confronted, they don’t want to listen to what you are saying.  Your spouse may become angry because you are essentially threatening to take away the thing he or she has come to rely on for managing life. The substance (whether drugs, alcohol, porn, sex, gambling, etc) has become a coping mechanism and your loved one can’t imagine life without it.  You may need to reach out to a professional addiction interventionist who will work with you and your spouse on plugging into a treatment program.



Recovery programs are more affordable than you may think, and can be vital to restoring quality of life for you and your loved one.  Professional intervention can also play a key role in preserving your marriage. Many insurances cover treatment and there are government-funded facilities that provide help under certain circumstances.  You can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for information about available resources; the helpline is available 24 hours a day, every day, and the phone number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).  


Adjusting your perspective

It’s important to understand your spouse’s behaviors and to separate them from who your loved one is.  Addiction is an illness, in some ways not unlike cancer. It isn’t your spouse’s identity. Though it may feel incredibly difficult, try to be forgiving and accept things you cannot change about your partner in order to find healing for your marriage and move forward.  Though addiction may seem like the major issue in your marriage, ask yourself if you can take responsibility for any part of the struggles you face together (hint: there is always something you can take responsibility for when it comes to relationship concerns).  


Intervention is imperative

Getting help is vital to restoring your partner.  As Psychology Today explains, addictions are progressive.  That means that without intervention, the addict’s behavior and needs will only become worse.  Life for you both as a couple and as individuals will decline. The key to making things improve lies in your spouse.  The addict must want to change in order to embrace recovery, and the behavior must change in order to enjoy a healthy, happy life together.  Unfortunately, a large number of couples divorce or live unhappily in their situation, and only a small percentage receive much-needed help, heal and go on with happy lives.  While a separation or a divorce shouldn’t be a bargaining chip, sometimes it’s a last resort, and sometimes it’s the push someone needs to get help. Before making a decision, it’s best to reach out to a counselor or therapist for assistance.


Care for yourself

Whatever road you and your loved one travel, you’re likely to face a number of difficulties.  Engaging in a self-care plan will help you through the journey.  Good self-care can help you keep life in balance and provide healthy coping skills when troubles come your way.  Ensure you get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and participate in a workout regimen. Do something creative, like dancing, crafting or painting, and engage in an activity that encourages self-introspection, like yoga or journaling.  


Help for you both

Addiction can take a toll on your marriage.  The best things you can do for you and your spouse is to get help and take care of yourselves.  Thoughtful strategies can mean success in navigating this difficult journey together.


About the Author: Caleb Anderson developed an opiate addiction after being in a car accident. He’s in recovery today and wants to inspire others to overcome their addictions. He co-created Recovery Hope to help people with substance abuse disorders and their families.