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I Have an Addicted Wife. What Can I Do?

What to do if You Have an Addicted Wife

"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."

Addiction and Your Wife

"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."

How to Address Your Wife's Addiction to Drugs or Alcoholism

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:

  • Isn't able to keep up with her responsibilities at home
  • Isn't taking care of herself the way that she once did
  • Tends to care more about alcohol or drugs than anything else
  • Spends a lot of her time using drugs or drinking, or recovering from using
  • Gets moody or cranky if she's not able to use

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.

If your wife is an addict, you need to openly address the problem. It won't do her any good to pretend that it doesn't exist.

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.

Avoiding Enabling Your Wife's Substance Abuse Problem

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:

  • Lying to other people about the addiction
  • Giving the wife money for drugs or alcohol
  • Taking over her responsibilities within the home
  • Acting as though there isn't a problem that needs to be addressed
  • Offering forgiveness to easily after the wife does something harmful
  • Creating an environment where substance abuse is accepted and even encouraged

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.

Addicted Wife

Finding the Support You Need Because of Your Wife's Alcoholism or Addiction

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.

  • Visit Your Family Doctor: It's important for you to stay on top of your health. Make an appointment with your family doctor to be sure you're healthy. If you need medication for any chronic problems, take it.
  • Get Online Support: There are a lot of online support groups that can help you. SMART Recovery is one of them. Their website is filled with great information, and they offer online support meetings.
  • Go to a Support Meeting: Groups like Nar-Anon and Al-Anon were set up to help those with loved ones with addictions. These groups can be so valuable to you, and they have meetings all over the country.
  • Talk with Trusted Friends: Find a few friends that you can trust with how you feel. Sometimes it helps just to vent and allow others to give you a listening ear.
  • Take Some Time for Yourself: What are some activities that you really enjoy doing? Why not do them? You could even get involved in some new hobbies and learn some new things that you're interested in.

Will an Intervention Help Your Addicted Wife Decide to Go to Alcohol or Drug Rehab?

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.

On the day of the intervention, your wife will arrive, and she may be shocked to see so many people she knows. She may immediately know what's going on, and she may become defensive.

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.

Encouraging Your Wife to Stay in Drug Treatment or Alcohol 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.

Addiction Treatment is Available, as Well as Other Resources

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.

Is your wife an addict? Are you looking for ways to find support and help during this time? Please contact us today.


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