When Your Spouse With Addictions Goes to Rehab

Your spouse entering rehab requires a team approach. Both of you must put in effort and time. Of course, the responsibility for overcoming addiction lies with your spouse, but you can do plenty of things to show your support.

Remain Positive and Avoid Shaming

It is very likely that your spouse’s addiction has taken a toll on your marriage. One or both of you probably feels guilt, shame, codependency, and other emotions. You may resent your spouse for having “stolen” years of your life or be very excited or relieved that your spouse is in rehab. Whatever the case, remain realistically positive and avoid shaming.

Realistic positivity means no toxic, fake positivity and no gloom-and-doom predictions. Encouraging words for someone in rehab can do wonders as long as the words are genuine and meaningful. Your spouse probably feels lonely and vulnerable, so let him or her know that you are there to offer support and encouragement. Do set boundaries by reinforcing that you expect your spouse to stick to a treatment plan.

Become Involved in Your Spouse’s Rehab

Rehab programs typically have some type of family education and therapy that you can participate in. You may learn about how addiction changes the brain and causes other issues. Couples and family therapy can give you the tools to support both yourself and your spouse and smooth out the transition from rehab to home.

Take Care of Yourself

You are in the best position to help your spouse when you take good care of yourself. Get therapy for yourself. Options include counseling and Al-Anon-style groups. Make time for yourself and your needs, including exercise, sleep, nutrition, and fun. Don’t give your life over to your spouse’s addiction and recovery.

Plan for a Possible Relapse

The risks of relapse are fairly high, about 40 percent to 60 percent, no matter how effective a rehab facility is. Addiction rewires the brain, and it is easy to justify using a substance again. Your spouse may say, “One time won’t hurt. I can stop after one,” or, “Work today was too stressful.”

For your own sake and your spouse’s, plan for a relapse so you have your boundaries set if it occurs. Clarify ahead of time to yourself what behaviors you refuse to tolerate. Common behaviors that spouses no longer let themselves do in a relapse include helping with substance-related hospitalizations, gambling, spending money on drugs or alcohol, or being arrested. Tips for this step include building a financial cushion and having a place to go if the situation is bad.

Learn About the Disorders Your Spouse Is Facing

Many people in rehab are battling more than just addiction. Dual diagnoses of substance use and mental health disorder are common. Learn as much as you can about your spouse’s addiction and disorder if there is one. You get a better handle on the emotional, mental, cognitive, physical, and psychological challenges your spouse faces.

It can be a relief when your spouse goes to rehab but also a scary, confusing time. Take care of yourself while also making time to support your spouse and learn more about his or her challenges.

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