Too often when one person in the family has an addiction, it affects everyone else. The addiction seems to take over and become central to the family’s functioning, even if no one is saying anything about it. For instance, let’s say Bob finds himself constantly worried about his wife’s drinking. When he’s not with her, he’s always wondering whether she’s safe. And when he is with her, he hides his anger so she doesn’t start drinking or so that he doesn’t upset her if she is drinking. The need to hide his anger and the loss of their relationship to alcohol seems to be bringing him down more and more every day. Plus, he’s feeling hopeless, sad, and confused.
In situations like this, it might seem like there’s nothing you can do. It’s unfortunate that another’s person’s choices can severely affect others, but that’s one of the consequences of addiction. Rather than staying stuck, consider the following means of support:
- Take your mind off the addiction. Try to find something to do or to participate in on a regular basis. Getting out of the house and doing something that does not involve the addicted person can help give you some inner strength. It can boost your feelings of hope inside of yourself, even if your spouse doesn’t have any. First, take care of yourself by separating yourself from the addiction and the addicted person for a few hours each week.
- Talk to someone. If you’re not quite ready to seek out professional help, at least talk to someone you trust. Let them know how you’re really feeling. Getting it off your chest might help relieve the tension you feel.
- Educate yourself on addiction. Get to know the illness of addiction and what contributes to its development. Learning more about addiction might shed more light on how you can support yourself and your spouse in getting better. It might also relieve you of any guilt or responsibility you might be feeling.
- Get help for yourself. If you feel you might be suffering from depression or anxiety as a result of addiction in the family, you might seek out professional help for yourself. This too can give you the strength you need, especially if you hope to help your spouse face the addiction.
- When you’re ready, call for professional help. If your spouse is using substances, at some point, there’s a good chance that he or she will need professional support. Some people avoid calling a therapist or psychologist because of the stigma that can come with addiction. And there might be other obstacles to treatment too. However, often, a therapist or psychologist can assist you in moving past those obstacles as well as getting your spouse the treatment that they need.
If your spouse is addicted to drugs and alcohol and it’s bringing you down, you don’t have to face depression alone. The above suggestions can be helpful. If you still don’t know where to begin, contact a mental health professional.
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