Substance abuse, whether it is the misuse of alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs, is devastating for everyone.
An addict who is ‘not in recovery’ or ‘recovered’ is not fit to be a wife, husband, or parent.
Yes, this is harsh. However, it is the truth!
Even though someone is an addict and they do wonderful things for their family members, the hurt and pain they cause by their addiction will overshadow the good! The net result is a crippled family.
The addict is responsible for getting clean
Successful treatment of substance abuse requires the addict to take 100% responsibility for the abuse and its negative impact on his or her family. Accepting this level of responsibility is necessary for a successful recovery and a life of abstinence.
Blaming anyone else or any situation for the abuse of substances is merely a statement by the addict that, “I am not in control, and I cannot stop my substance abuse” — and taking that position will only maintain the substance abuse that is injuring everyone.
The substance abuse addict needs to recognize that he or she has done this to themselves and that solving the problem is theirs alone!
Substance abuse and addiction can rip apart a marriage and committed relationship. Everyone is injured from this circumstantial tsunami.
Sadly, children who grow up in homes where there is substance abuse are often injured for life.
Substance abuse is an extremely serious matter and must be dealt with straight on.
Some of the common ways that a substance abuser injures oneself and innocent family members:
- Lies are constantly told
- Mood changes are quick and unnatural, making everyone uncomfortable
- Money is secretly spent and often when it could be better spent on other necessities
- Unpredictable outburst of anger
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Guilt leads to a loss of self-esteem for the abuser and those around him or her
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Unpredictable behavior
- Unwillingness and inability to consistently behave in a responsible way as a partner or parent
- The erosion of one’s physical well-being — it is a form of slow suicide
- Inability to reach one’s full earning potential
- Unable to build an emotional or romantic bond with one’s partner
- Ongoing stress and worry for everyone in the family not knowing what the substance abuser will do next
- Chronic depression, a feeling of hopelessness that nothing can or ever will change
Recovery from substance abuse
When a person decides to give up or substantially reduce his or her addiction, his or her family can be an asset or a hindrance. The addict’s partner, in particular, can often be very influential regarding the outcome. For example, there may be outstanding relationship issues that if addressed effectively, can help the substance abuser feel more comfortable at home and supported by family members.
Often, members of the substance abuser’s family need treatment themselves because of the abuse they have experienced and are continuing to experience.
As substance abuse includes the abuser as well as every member of his or her family, often everyone requires their own form of psychological treatment and support.
Nevertheless, the addict must see himself or herself as 100% responsible for solving the problem. No form of relationship counseling should lead to the impression that somehow being an addict is justifiable based on past or present relationship problems. The addict chooses to abuse substances, and his or her family members become innocent victims of the abuse.
A substance abuse addict who refuses to change
If you are the spouse of an addict, and your partner is unwilling to accept responsibility and get appropriate treatment, it is questionable if you should remain in the relationship and ‘keep the family together.’ Get appropriate help to assist you with this decision and to know your options.
The treatment of substance abuse and addiction is highly specialized. As a social worker and couple and family therapist, this is beyond my circle of expertise, and I am not in a position to offer treatment suggestions. For this reason, the reader, if he or she wants to know more about substance abuse and treatment options, is encouraged to seek out appropriate experts and reliable information.
To get you started, I have listed below three websites that deal with substance abuse, and if you like, you can go to them and gather information.
As long as there is a major addiction in your family, it will be very difficult to directly improve your marriage. You need to first gain control over the substance abuse. Once that has begun, you can then further enhance your marriage by using traditional therapeutic approaches.
List three places you can get more information about substance abuse such as reading books, articles, or speaking to professionals, etc.
Let's highlight what can be your next steps to solving the abuse problem in your family.
List 3-ways substance abuse is harming your family:
List 3-benefits to your family in eliminating substance abuse:
List the 3-steps you can take to start dealing with the substance abuse problem in your family:
List 3 individuals or organizations that can assist you with the substance abuse problem in your family: