Attending a support group with other spouses of addicts can help you cope with a difficult situation.

How to Be Supportive to a Recovering Addict Husband

by Kelly Morris

Addiction affects the entire family, not just the addict. Addicts and alcoholics often have trouble maintaining relationships, and the people closest to them suffer right along with them. Your support will be invaluable as your husband recovers from his addiction, but you’ll need support, too, in order to recover from all the stress and trauma you’ve experienced related to your husband’s addiction.

1. Encourage Him to Continue With Treatment

Encourage your husband to get treatment for his addiction and to continue with treatment as long as he feels he needs help and as long as his doctor, counselor or other professionals think he needs treatment. Make it easy for him to go, if you can; for instance, arrange to get off work early so you can watch the kids on days he attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, if necessary. Remember you can’t make him go to treatment, though, and nagging him about it won’t help.

2. Participate in Any Family Component of His Treatment Program

Most substance abuse treatment programs include a family component to educate family members about addiction, provide support to family members of addicts and strengthen relationships between addicts and their family members. Participate as fully as possible in any family component of your husband’s treatment program. You’ll get information and support you need, and your husband will know you care about him and want to help. You’ll show him that you’re in this thing together.

3. Go to Counseling Together

When your husband has a substance abuse problem, it puts a great deal of strain on the marriage. You may have struggled with financial problems related to his addiction. He was probably unreliable and untrustworthy while using alcohol or drugs. He may have been secretive, uncommunicative or even verbally abuse when under the influence of his addiction. Seeing a marriage counselor with your husband can help the two of you improve your communication skills and strengthen your relationship. It can help you find solutions to problems and find ways to repair damage done to the relationship while he was using drugs or alcohol.

4. Get Support for Yourself

Supporting a recovering addict can be stressful. Wives often feel anxious, depressed, angry and betrayed when living with a husband with an addiction. Seeing your own counselor can help you work through your feelings and give you much-needed support. While you might also participate in counseling sessions with your husband, meetings with a counselor of your own can be beneficial in different ways because your counselor will be working for you, to help and support you, not your husband. Self-help groups like Al-Anon (see Resources) help spouses of alcoholics and drug addicts, too, by allowing them to connect with others in similar circumstances.

About the Author

Kelly Morris has been making a living as a writer since 2004. She attended the College of Mount St. Joseph with a major in social work and minor in women's studies. Her work has appeared in a number of print publications including Caregivers Home Companion, Midwifery Today and Guide.

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