How to Support a Spouse in Rehabilitation

Living with an addict can be frustrating and upsetting. Addiction is an illness that can completely change the way a person acts and behaves. The individual will do and say almost anything to ensure that he or she can continue with their addictive behaviour, and if that causes hurt and distress to their family members, then in many cases it is seen as collateral damage.

Addiction changes the way the brain functions, which can make some people act in a way they would never have before. It is heartbreaking for family members to see their loved ones act so selfishly and manipulatively.

Spouses who are living with an addicted partner often have to take over all the household responsibilities; this can be very tough, especially if there are children involved. Trying to juggle chores, childcare and work while also doing everything in their power to encourage a partner to get help for addiction is immensely stressful.

Helping a Partner in Treatment

If you are in such a position, and you have finally managed to get your spouse to enter a residential treatment centre, you may be breathing a huge sigh of relief and are looking forward to getting your family life back on track. You may also be wondering what you can do to help. While your husband or wife will have to fight his or her battle, there are some things that you could do to make this easier and to show your support.

One of the most important things is to offer your support as he or she tries to get sober. Never shame your spouse or belittle him or her. Remember that addiction is an illness and one that your spouse did not choose.

Take Care of Things at Home

If your spouse is going to be away for a number of weeks in a residential facility to get sober and learn how to stay sober, you can support him or her by making sure that things at home are taken care of. Your spouse will have to spend his or her time focusing on getting better, so knowing that there is nothing to worry about at home will make this job easier.

Make plans for childcare while you are at work – you may have to call on extended family members to support you by babysitting once in a while, or you could speak to your employer to arrange some time off. You will find that most employers are supportive when it comes to helping out in family emergencies.

Make Sure Your Home is Safe for Your Spouse’s Return

Recovering addicts need to be very vigilant in the early days of recovery to avoid temptations and triggers. To help your spouse, you should make a point of clearing out the home of any mood-altering substances such as alcohol, drugs or prescription medication. Have a good look around your home because it is likely your spouse had substances stashed in places where you may not even think to look.

Be Supportive

Depending on the facility where your spouse is receiving treatment, contact may be kept to a minimum during the early days and weeks. However, written communication is usually permitted. Avoid phoning your spouse in the early days as he or she may be all over the place in terms of emotions. It is likely that you or your spouse may say something in temper that you would never put in a letter.

By putting your feelings in a letter, there is no way for your spouse to misinterpret what you have said. Plus, you will have time to go over what you have written before sending it. Be honest and supportive and reassure your spouse that you want things to get back to some semblance of normality once residential treatment has finished.