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My Wife is an Alcoholic or Drug Addict: How to Help Them and Yourself

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Is Your Wife Struggling With Substance Use?

My Wife is an Alcoholic or Drug Addict: How to Help Them and YourselfIf your wife has a substance use disorder, chances are you have tried everything to help her get sober. We know how incredibly frustrating it can be to sit by and watch the woman you love destroy herself with alcohol or drugs. And, of course, it feels like she is destroying you and your family in the process (not to mention your finances).

In the wake of the opioid epidemic, addiction is at an all-time high. Families are being torn apart. People are dying. And, loved ones feel helpless to make a positive change. We are all too familiar with the crushing blow that addiction continues to deliver to Americans everywhere.

If your wife is an alcoholic or drug addict, we want you to know there is help available – help for you and help for her. No matter how hopeless you may feel right now, things can change and they can get better.

Addiction is a Disease and Your Wife is Sick

It may be difficult to understand, but you should know that if your wife is addicted to alcohol or drugs like cocaine, heroin, or painkillers; she is sick. Addiction is a complex brain disease that affects women in profound ways. You have every right to be angry, confused, bewildered, and tired of your current situation. BUT – before you judge too harshly, we want to give you some insight into her behavior.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs.” (By the way, alcohol is a drug!)

Every major medical organization in the United States (including the American Medical Association) classifies addiction as disease – NOT a moral failing. Your wife is not a bad, weak, or immoral person. She is a sick person who needs help. More than anything right now, she needs love and compassion.

To Find Freedom, Your Wife Needs Help

It is not uncommon for spouses to mistakenly think their wives lack moral character or willpower when they are addicted. They think she should just quit drinking or taking drugs and be done with it. The fact is, she needs professional addiction treatment to get well. If she could quit on her own, she would. Quitting involves more than good intentions.

When it comes to having an addict or alcoholic in the family, we like to tell spouses about the “three C’s.”

1. You didn’t cause it.

You are not the cause of your wife’s addiction. Her substance use disorder is linked to a type of allergy that causes her body to react to drugs or alcohol in ways that are not typical. She is not doing what she is doing because of anything you did. It is not your fault.

2. You can’t control it.

No amount of begging, pleading, reasoning, ultimatums, threats, or promises are going to get your wife healthy. You have probably already tried to control her substance use, only to find that she drinks or drugs behind your back and then lies to you about it. You cannot control it. Neither can she.

3. You can’t cure it.

We know you love your wife. We know you care about her and you want what is best for her. But, no amount of love, care, or concern is going to cure her of this disease. In order for the cycle of addiction to be arrested, she must first become abstinent from drugs and alcohol. The chances of this happening in her current environment are not likely. Then, she is going to need professional help to establish and sustain ongoing recovery. We believe residential treatment or an intensive outpatient program is the best way to arrest the disease.

Get Help For You and Your Wife at New Directions for Women

At New Directions for Women, we have been helping women of all ages get sober for more than 40 years. We also help pregnant women in any stage of pregnancy and women who have children. If your wife is ready to break the chains of addiction, we can help her too.

Addiction is a family disease. If your wife is addicted, you have been greatly impacted by her addiction – in ways you may not fully understand yet. In our experience, spouses can become codependent and engage in unhealthy behaviors when their wife is sick. They also become exhausted from all the broken promises and feel a constant sense of impending doom. For us, this means spouses also need help to find their own healing and regain their health.

We offer evidence-based substance use disorder treatment to the women who come to us for help. We also offer extensive family services to spouses and children who have affected by this disease. We believe in restoring hope and healing to the entire family.

Need help with an intervention? We provide referrals for reputable intervention services.

Consider Going to an Al-Anon Meeting To Get Help For Yourself

If your wife is unwilling to consider going to treatment, you are going to need to get help for yourself. The situation is not going to get better on its own – it is only going to get worse with time and continued substance use. You need to learn the necessary tools to cope with the situation if you are going to continue to live with your addicted wife. You can find learn these tools at Al-Anon.

Al-Anon is a 12-Step fellowship that helps men and women who have a loved one that is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. At Al-Anon meetings, people share their experience, strength, and hope with one another to help eachother learn how to live with an addicted love one.

You can find an Al-Anon meeting near you by doing a quick and easy free online search. If you’re local, there is an Al-Anon meeting held every Wednesday at our Outpatient offices at 11:30am on Redhill and Kalmus in Costa Mesa, CA.

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