Did you know that more than 21 million Americans suffer from addiction but only 10% receive addiction counseling?
Many addicts believe their addiction only harms themselves. The truth is much greater. An addict’s behavior affects almost everyone in their lives.
Spouses and intimate partners experience these effects more than anyone else. They’re also quite familiar with how their partner’s addiction ruins a loving relationship and destroys intimacy.
If you’re in a relationship with an addict it’s time to seek help from addiction experts. Addiction counseling and couples therapy are key parts of recovery. Keep reading to learn more.
How Drug Addiction Affects Relationships
One word most used to describe an addict is unreliable. In order to maintain access to using and keep the addiction going, an addicted person resorts to lying, hiding, and manipulating, which essential damages trust in their relationships. Most spouses and partners never expected their relationships to look this way.
The actions of the addict cause reactions in the spouse. Anger, fear, worry and hopelessness are all emotions the partner of an addict is familiar with. These feelings are devastating to the mind, body and spirit.
Trust is the main factor missing from a relationship with an addict. When you can’t trust your partner to be reliable and responsible you might feel abandoned.
And you might wonder, can a relationship survive drug addiction? It’s a devastating position to be in.
Addiction Counseling Is a Priority
Sadly addicts rarely achieve sobriety on their own. Drug and alcohol addiction is a powerful disease. Addicts must work with experts in the fields of addiction and mental health to have a chance at recovery.
Rock bottom is different for each addict. It’s difficult for them to realize when they’ve reached the point of no return. Since most addicts find it difficult and often humiliating to admit they have a problem, they refuse treatment time and time again.
Sometimes they refuse to get help until it’s too late.
But when an addict realizes what’s at stake if they don’t seek treatment this can be what motivates them to recover.
For many addicts, this motivation is the potential loss of their spouse and children. It can often be loss of career or income. If the thought of this loss compels them to seek treatment there may be a chance to save your marriage.
However, if they don’t seek addiction counseling that chance dwindles rapidly.
Couples Therapy and Addiction
When an addict enters treatment the first priority is their physical health. Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can be painful and even deadly. Medical care is critical. Once the patient is physically stable the real work begins.
Most experts suggest that the patient’s partner becomes involved in the addict’s treatment. Couples therapy is vital so everyone can understand the damage done and the feelings surrounding it.
As the partner of an addict, this is the time to make your voice heard in a safe space. Partners are reluctant to speak up about their feelings. In the past expressing those feelings was usually met with anger, denial and hostility.
Couples therapy allows you to share how your partner’s addiction affects you. And it allows your partner to hear you with a clearer mind. As they begin to heal from addiction they begin to better understand how their actions have damaged the people they’re closest to.
Honesty is key in marriage counseling with an addict. Without honest conversations, the trust in the relationship may never be reestablished.
Couples counseling is important during recovery. But one on one counseling is critical as well. There might be some things you’re not yet ready to share with your partner. Having your own therapist means you can examine your own feelings privately.
Your therapist can also advise you on the best ways to express yourself to your partner when you’re ready.
Regaining Intimacy with Your Partner
Rebuilding trust and intimacy is a challenging task. Addiction is a betrayal and that erodes the confidence you had in your relationship.
Sexual intimacy is one of the first things that is lost in a relationship with an addict. For some addicts, drugs and alcohol inhibit their sexual performance. Other addicts aren’t interested in sex unless they’re high.
As the partner of an addict, you may feel vulnerable or undesirable in intimate situations. You might not feel ready for sex with your partner and that’s fine. The important thing is that you’re honest about your own feelings and that your partner is taking their addiction recovery seriously.
As you’ll learn in your couples therapy sessions intimacy doesn’t equal sex. It can be a conversation over coffee, a shared laugh at a funny movie or even a long walk together.
As you begin to regain trust in your partner you might find you’re ready to explore deeper levels of intimacy.
Sobriety Is a Lifelong Process
An addict’s disease will be with them for the rest of their lives. They will constantly need to use the tools they learn in recovery to avoid relapse.
As the partner of an addict, you’ll need tools as well. Attend individual and couples therapy sessions regularly, especially in the early months and years of your partner’s recovery.
Many spouses also join support groups like Al-Anon. Some seek spiritual guidance from their faith leaders. Others focus on self-care and add healthy activities to their routines.
But perhaps the most important thing to understand is the strength and resolve required for your relationship to survive this disease. Your partner needs their own strength and resolve to stay sober. You need your own strength aand resove to remind yourself of your worth and to establish boundaries accordingly.
And you need combined strength and resolve to rebuild your relationship.
Learn More About Addiction and How It Impacts Your Relationship
If you’re in a relationship with an addict there is light at the end of the tunnel. Learn more about the role of partners and families in the addiction counseling process and how our compassionate team can help.