How to Help Your Spouse Find Addiction Treatment

Addressing spousal substance use may not be easy and could be an uncomfortable experience for both parties. For instance, some people who use substances may withdraw from people. Often, the person instead needs connection with supportive people to help them recover. 1

Other difficulties a person who is using substances may encounter include:1

  • Overcoming the shame and 2 of addiction.
  • Overcoming a feeling of judgement.
  • The uncertainty of relapse.
  • The lack of fully understanding the disease of addiction itself.

This page will discuss the signs of addiction to look for, what actions you can take, types of treatment, and how you can support your spouse.

Is my Husband or Wife Addicted to Drugs?

Upset husband and wife

First and foremost, be compassionate and non-judgmental toward your spouse with the understanding that a substance use disorder is a chronically relapsing brain disease as opposed to a moral failing they should be shamed or judged for. 1, 3

Although only a medical professional can officially diagnose a substance use disorder, there are some identifiable signs to look for regarding drug and/or alcohol abuse.

What Signs of Addiction Should I Look For?

Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (5th ed.), provides the most up-to-date and accurate information in addressing mental health. There are 11 criteria that medical professionals use to diagnose a substance use disorder.

A few of those criteria can be noticeable by someone who isn’t a medical professional. Some of these include:4

  • The inability to manage commitments because of substance use.
  • Consuming larger quantities of substance and/or for a lengthier time than intended.
  • Craving the substance.
  • Desiring to stop consuming substance/or to cut down, but not being able to.
  • Continued use, despite it causing friction in relationships.

Understanding Your Partner’s Addiction

Substances can change how well the brain works and even interfere with its normal tasks.5 Continual substance use over time can lead to the brain disease known as addiction. This can cause individuals to not be able to stop, despite wanting to and even after experiencing negative repercussions within different areas of their life.5

If your spouse is struggling with a substance use disorder, there are two key ways to reduce stigma around substance use disorder: have people understand that addiction is a chronic medical disease and that effective treatment is available. Substance use disorders happen when an individual’s continual use of drugs and/or alcohol leads to clinically significant impairment,6 such as not meeting responsibilities at home, work, or school, or leading to additional health problems or disability.6

Because substance use and mental health disorders impact individuals differently,6 it’s best to keep an open mind and to remain compassionate towards your loved one during this process.

This doesn’t mean you should enable their behavior or that you cannot set boundaries for your own peace of mind. It’s important for you to practice self-care. However, compassion can sometimes come from knowledge and understanding another point of view.

My Spouse is Addicted to Drugs: What Do I Do?

It’s natural to want to help a loved one and to take steps in order to do so, especially when it’s your husband or wife who seems to be struggling with substance use disorder. However, before initiating a conversation, it’s important to understand that substance use disorder is more stigmatized compared to other psychiatric disorders, and people with SUD are perceived as more to blame for their disorder. This can have a deleterious impact on someone with a SUD. 7

Patients who hold more stigmatizing beliefs about SUD are less likely to seek treatment and when they do enter treatment, tend to discontinue sooner.7 It’s important to support your spouse in their treatment efforts.

Through online research or even visiting a clinic, a treatment center, or a primary care physician’s office in person, you can gather information and perhaps even have an opportunity to speak with a counselor (or another professional) yourself to determine the best approach you should take when addressing your spouse.

Please keep in mind that an appointment may be required before a professional can meet with you. Call ahead to schedule an appointment if you would like guidance or direction from a professional. Otherwise, there is a plethora of information online.

During your conversation, it’s important for you to address the need for your husband or wife to seek professional medical help. One suggestion might be referring them to their primary care physician for a discussion and diagnosis.

Receiving professional care increases the likelihood of long-term recovery.9 This includes receiving treatment that is tailored to their specific needs, effective treatment that simultaneously address substance misuse and co-occurring mental health conditions, and the length of stay in a treatment program, to name a few.9

How Can I Find the Best Rehab for My Spouse?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a rehab facility, including:

  • Is it accredited?10
  • Does the facility provide ongoing support?10
  • Does the facility provide evidence-based practices?10
  • Does the facility provide FDA-approved medications?10
  • Does the program include family in the process?10
  • Does the facility treat your spouse’s unique needs?
  • Does your spouse need detox?
  • How important is location to your spouse?
  • How much does treatment cost?

Oxford Treatment Center, one of American Addiction Centers’ facilities, is accredited by many organizations. The facility provides healthcare for the whole individual, not just their struggle with drug and/or alcohol misuse. And Oxford accepts most private health insurance providers, including BlueCross BlueShield, Humana, Aetna, and Meritain, to name a few. There are other payment options available as well.

It’s never too late to reach out for help. If you or someone you love is struggling with the devastating side effects of addiction and are unsure of where to turn, call us today at . Oxford Treatment Center, American Addiction Centers’ Mississippi rehab center, is ready to help you get the treatment you need today.

Addiction Treatment and Therapy

There are different levels of care in addiction treatment. Some people may need to detox from the substance(s) they’ve been using, so they may start with a supervised medical detox.

From there, patients may enter either inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment. With inpatient and residential care, individuals remain at the facility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with 4-6 hours of group, individual, and recreational types of therapy each day.

Outpatient care can include standard outpatient, partial hospitalization programs (PHP), and intensive outpatient programs (IOP). In general, outpatient treatment allows for individuals to maintain their responsibilities at work, home, and school (if applicable) and to go to therapy for a certain number of hours each day, contingent on the program type.

There are a number of evidence-based therapies that have helped individuals work through their struggles with addiction, including psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and, for certain individuals, medication to treat specific substance use disorders.

Paying for Addiction Treatment

Attending addiction treatment is an investment in your spouse’s health, quality of life, and long-term sobriety. Financial hurdles should not stand in the way of them receiving optimum care to get the help they need.

Insurance can cover some of the costs if the facility accepts your insurance.

If there is a balance following what insurance covers, there are financing options available for those who qualify. Many facilities have a range of payment options including payment plans.

And although talking to family members about addiction and asking for financial help may raise a lot of emotions for all parties involved, it may be worth having those challenging conversations in exchange for the health, life, and long-term sobriety of your loved one.

What Can I Do to Support My Spouse’s Recovery?

Couples therapy

After your spouse completes their treatment, it’s important to understand that recovery from a substance use disorder is a continuous effort. They will not only need your support, but they will need the positive support from other family and friends, as well as aftercare support.

Aftercare continues after the completion of the main treatment program. Aftercare can consist of a number of interventions that  not only help people hone the skills learned in rehab but are also an important component in building a social support network that can help motivate a person to stay on the road to recovery and preventing relapse.11 Aftercare may include things like individual therapy sessions or regular attendance of mutual-help group meetings.

While you’re being a supportive spouse to your loved one, remember to take care of your needs as well.

Self-care for you is equally as important as your spouse getting support from you. Since they are more than likely not emotionally available to you, you have to create those special moments for yourself that can recharge you. In doing so, it gives you the physical energy, mental stamina, and possibly, the patience to face the challenges brought on by a spouse battling a substance use disorder.

The following are ways that you can practice self-care:12

  • See your own physician for regular check-ups and when you aren’t feeling well yourself.
  • Stay healthy by getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise.
  • Join a support group for other spouses in your position (Al-Anon or Nar-anon).
  • Get organized in order to set up a daily routine and schedule.
  • Ask for/accept help. It’s hard to do anything on your own, especially when it comes to the pressures and responsibilities of taking care of a loved one.
  • Take time for you. This may include connecting with friends and/or going to participate in an activity that you enjoy doing.




Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Oxford is located in Etta, Mississippi, which is easily accessible from Memphis and Birmingham.
Take your next step toward recovery:
✔ learn more about our addiction treatment programs.
✔ see how popular insurance providers such as Aetna or Humana offer coverage for rehab.
view photos of our facility.