"Honestly, you don't know real stress until you have an addicted wife. I truly believe this. I'm coming from a place of experience, unfortunately."
"My wife is an alcoholic. I think she also might be addicted to prescription painkillers. That's a deadly combination, I know. I've tried to tell her so many times, but nothing I say makes a difference. She still continues to use.
"It's gotten to the point where I'm just at the end of my rope. There's only so much you can say to a person. I remember seeing signs of addiction when she was my fiancée. It was all in fun back then, and I think I might have enabled the substance abuse to continue. I'm dreading that decision.
"Today, I feel like all I can do is pray. I try to shield our kids from it as much as I can. I just don't know how to get her to see that she needs to recover from this problem."
The first step is to be sure that your wife has an actual addiction. This involves looking at her behaviors to see if she is showing some of the signs of addiction. You may notice that she:
Maybe you're still not sure, even after looking for these behaviors. Sometimes spouses of addicts can be in denial as well. It might help you to take a quiz that will ask you some very pointed questions. You'll be able to get a better idea of the problem this way.
Choose a time to talk with her about it when she's sober. Early in the morning is usually a good time. Don't accuse her of anything, or blame her for her behaviors. Just talk with her calmly about some of the things you've been noticing. Give examples of how the addiction has been affecting your family as a whole.
Let her know that even though she has an addiction, you still love her. You want to do everything in your power to help her get the help she needs to recover. It's possible that she feels just as helpless as you do. She may notice the lack of her presence at home with her children. She may notice that her feelings toward you and her marriage have changed. If you address the problem the right way, she may be open to making changes in her life.
A word of caution; it's possible that once you bring this up to your wife that she'll promise to quit. These words can be music to your ears. However, you should tell her about the dangers of quitting drugs or alcohol on her own. She is very likely to relapse, which could lead to an overdose. It's much safer for her to quit using in a professional facility where she can be cared for properly.
Unfortunately, many spouses tend to enable their wives' addictions. They truly believe that they're helping them. However, they're really only making it easier for the addiction to continue on. You may have been doing this without realizing it. Perhaps you have been helping her by removing any problems that are related to her addiction. You're doing so as an act of love. You don't want her to feel bad, and you want her to be happy. These behaviors actually do more harm in the long run, than good.
Some of the ways spouses will enable their wives to continue using include:
This is so difficult, but if you've done any of these, now is the time to stop. You may have to have a conversation with her wife so that she knows your plan. She'll probably try to manipulate you and the situation. She may even beg and plead with you, offering empty promises of quitting soon. Stay consistent in your decision to stop enabling her. Allow her to experience the consequences of her addiction. That will eventually help her to become more agreeable to treatment.
If you're like most people, you're under a lot of stress because of your wife's addiction. It may even be causing you to experience medical problems. You might be having digestive issues, or stomach problems, or headaches. You may even consider drinking alcohol or using drugs yourself as a way to cope.
Sadly, this happens far too often among married couples. The addiction causes the other spouse to fail to take proper care of himself. You need to care for your own needs too, and there are a few ways that you can do this.
An intervention might be a great tool for you to use. If your wife is refusing to go to alcohol rehab or drug rehab, an intervention can change that.
Many alcohol treatment and drug treatment programs offer intervention services. You simply call them and schedule one. The interventionist will walk you through the process, and he or she will oversee the meeting. You'll be coached on what to say during the meeting itself. You'll invite other friends and family members to participate too.
This is something you should be prepared for. When you speak with her, tell her how you feel. Tell her how the addiction is hurting you and your family. Afterwards, ask her to get help. Your wife will be given the opportunity to go to treatment. This is a decision she'll need to make right away. You may have to take her to the addiction treatment center. Most of the time, interventions do end with the addict agreeing to treatment.
During the time that your wife is in alcohol and drug rehab, she will get excellent help for her addiction. She'll receive counseling, group therapy and other forms of therapy. Sometimes addicts and their families think that this is the final step. They believe that once the addict has gotten help, everything will be better again. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Addiction is a disease. Like other diseases, it is ongoing and chronic. In order to treat it properly, addicts need to continue to get treatment. That doesn't mean staying in an inpatient facility forever. Rather, your wife will be referred to the type of step-down services that are right for her. This might mean going to 12 Step meetings on an outpatient basis. It might mean getting involved in an intensive outpatient treatment program. Whatever it is, encourage her to follow up.
You're facing a very challenging time in your life. Addiction causes serious problems for families. Whether your wife is an alcoholic or a drug addict, you likely have your hands full at the moment. You may be feeling as though there's nothing more that you can do. As you can see, there is actually a lot you can do to encourage her to get the help she needs. This road is not an easy one to travel down. However, once you get through this, you'll be able to put the pieces of your family back together again.
Here at Northpoint Washington, we'd love to be a part of the process. We understand that you're frustrated and torn. We know you want what's best for your wife. If you could, you'd wish everything to go back to the way it was before the addiction took hold. Of course, you know that's not possible.
Regardless of what it is that you need, we can help you. Perhaps your wife has agreed to get information on addiction treatment. We can provide that for you. If she's negative about treatment, we can help you schedule an intervention. We're here to support you in any way that you need.