The Secret To Understanding Your Addicted Spouse

People do not consciously choose to be addicts. More on the secret to understanding addiction here.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: The “Secret” to understanding the pain, hurt, and cycle of addiction is to … understand addiction. In fact, you need to learn more about this brain disease! We’ll teach you how you can learn to cope by reframing your own concepts here.



When they fall too deep, a loved one usually needs professional help.

In order to understand your addicted spouse you need to constantly be reminded that people do not intentionally choose to become addicts! Most of the time they are not even aware about the consequences of their actions. This is because addiction is a disease that clouds a person’s ability for rational judgment. It is a brain disorder that affects a person’s:

  • Ability to make a rational decision.
  • Ability to feel pleasure.
  • Ability to control a craving.

Read more about how to understand your addicted spouse here. Then, we invite your questions or comments at the end. Or, feel free to give us a call. We love to hear from our readers and are ready to help.

Why It’s So Difficult

So, let’s start with a question: Why is understanding your addicted spouse so difficult?

To begin, there are many challenges when communicating and living with an addicted spouse. Do these sounding off points sound familiar?

  • Addicts very often become masters of manipulation.
  • Addicts place the blame on others for the lack of support.
  • Addicts start stealing, lying and become violent.
  • Addicts start getting themselves into crime.

Perhaps you’ve had the unfortunate chance to see and experience them by yourself. Indeed, the upheaval caused by addiction can become very difficult to stand. Driven by the turbulent emotions, you might just want to give up. It is 100% understandable that right now, you may have lost your ability to understand your partner’s addiction problem.

We get it!

So, want to hear the good news? Do not despair! Even if your spouse has fallen deep, there is still a chance of recovery!

According to the experts…addiction is a TREATABLE disease, NOT A MORAL FAILING!

This view might power a change in you. In fact, there are many examples of successful recovery stories which you can read on SAMHSA’s website, which might help you in better understanding what your addicted spouse is getting through.

So when wanting to understand your addicted husband or wife keep in mind the following motivation: “If others made it through recovery, than it’s not impossible! (Maybe s/he can do too!)

What Can I Do?

Addiction can leave you feeling helpless, alone, completely defeated.

We’re here to tell you that – as a spouse of someone who’s addicted – you can start to take action…action that will get you feeling better. Action that can help you reframe the problem in your own head.

You see, addictive behaviors are very often related to a psychological or emotional gap. Addicts often feel that their drug-of-choice provides them with SOMETHING THEY PERSONALLY LACK. So, they continue abusing their drug-of-choice in order to gain that sense of self.

At its most basic, addicts are chasing the pleasurable sedative OR stimulant feeling of well-being. The drug is just a band-aid to a deeper issue(s) that s/he has not yet resolved.

“But wait!” you might be saying to yourself. “I can’t live forever with an addicted partner.” But don’t give up yet! Why not consider trying to understand what is going on with your addicted spouse?

TRY THIS: Every time when feeling angry or lacking understanding towards your addicted spouse focus on the following questions:

  • What does the drug offer to my husband/wife?
  • What can I do to help my wife/husband realize that s/he is addicted?
  • How can I help her/him get into treatment?

The Secret Of Understanding Your Addicted Spouse

So let’s get to it.

The secret of understanding your an addicted wife or husband is to learn as much as you can about addiction. Understanding addiction might change your perspective and bring you closer to your spouse. You should never give up hope! Treatment can help your spouse manage and regain control of her life!

The Who/What/When/Where and How

Where do you get started on all this learning? Check out this list of people and places to contact when in need for professional help for addiction treatment.

1. Addiction Counselors

Addiction counselors help people through psychotherapy. They are trained to provide support and treatment to help addicts recover from addiction. When looking for addiction treatment providers the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) is a great source. On their website NAATP offer a searching tool for finding private dependency treatment program throughout the United States.

2. Physicians, family doctors, or general practitioner MDs

Guess what? Your family doctor can help, too! In addition to providing primary screening interventions, s/he can help refer you to more specialized mental health professionals. When looking for physicians and other health care professionals in your area, you can visit:

3. Licensed Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are medical doctors that can prescribe medications to a loved one for mental health related issues. They can also refer you to longer term care. How do you find a psychiatrist that’s right for you?

You can always seek a recommendation for mental health professionals through your personal metwork. In case you have health insurance, contact them to find out which mental health providers your insurance company will pay for. Your insurance company may require that you choose a provider that they will recommend.

4. Addiction treatment facilities and detox clinics

SAMHSA: Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator ( offers a database of drug and alcohol treatment programs in the U.S. This Locator includes addiction treatment programs, residential treatment centers, outpatient treatment programs and hospital inpatient programs for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Things To Avoid

“Sober for Good” author, Ann M. Fletcher, offers 9 suggestions that you might find useful when considering to help and understand your addicted loved one. Here are some DON’TS:

  1. Don’t make it easy for the addict to keep up addictive behavior.
  2. Don’t nag, criticize, preach or complain.
  3. Don’t address the addiction problem quietly. Be direct.
  4. Don’t try to treat someone yourself. Seek professional help.
  5. Don’t get caught up. Detach, separate, walk away.
  6. Don’t use drugs or alcohol yourself. Set a good example.
  7. Don’t get stressed. Take care of yourself.
  8. Don’t abandon ship. Be there for them when they are ready.

An Extra Tip To Understanding Your Addicted Spouse

It is very important to learn how to help and support your addicted spouse without falling into the pattern of enabling her/his addiction. As a partner, you need to keep in mind that you can’t overcome another person’s addiction, but you can most certainly give emotional support.

As marriage vows say: “Through the good and the bad …in sickness and in health…” Make sure to let your spouse know that you understand the difficulty of the challenge she is facing and that you are willing to be beside her as she is walking through her recovery path. Here are some recommendations on what YOU CAN DO to offer understanding to your addicted spouse:

  • Love your spouse without enabling the addiction problem.
  • Motivate your spouse to consider entering treatment.
  • Encourage your spouse to explore the roots of addiction.
  • Show your spouse how to view relapses as setbacks instead of failures.

Your Questions

Do you still have questions on the subject of understanding your addicted spouse? In case you want to comment or share how this topic has impacted your life please use the section below for questions. We are happy to respond to your questions personally.

Reference Sources: NIH: Addiction is a treatable disease, not a moral failing.
ASAM Definition of Addiction
Recovery Month: Read Personal Stories
Sober for Good Chapter 7 You can help! 154-163p
Understanding Your Spouse’s Addiction
CRC Health: How to Support a Spouse in Addiction Recovery
American Addiction Centers: How to Support an Addicted Partner Without Enabling
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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