When your husband has a problem with drugs and alcohol, it not only negatively impacts his life and his health; it also affects the health and wellness of you, your children, your marriage, and the dynamics of the whole family.
The sooner your husband begins the treatment process, the more quickly you, he, and everyone in the family will be able to rebuild relationships. Starting over begins with your husband enrolling in an addiction treatment program that will give you both the guidance you need to move forward.
What Form of Treatment Is Best?
A standard outpatient addiction treatment program may a good fit if your husband is committed to his recovery, has a low-dose addiction, and will not require extreme medical support during detox or recovery.
If your husband has struggled to stay sober in outpatient treatment programs in the past, if there is a concern about the intensity of the detox process around children, or if there is a possibility that there may be medical complications during the experience, an initial inpatient detox program may work best.
More intensive rehab programs, like partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient treatment, offer more comprehensive approaches to recovery. Your husband will have the time and space he needs to focus on getting sober, and your family members will have time during the day to address their own issues while your husband is at the treatment facility.
With these types of programs, your husband can get thorough care while still living at home. You’ll still see him every night and be a vital part of the recovery process.
If living at home during treatment isn’t a good option for any number of reasons, many programs work with sober living homes. In this instance, your husband would reside in a sober living facility while attending treatment during the day.
Learn whether your insurance company will help to cover the cost of treatment. Most facilities accept insurance, and this should be your first method of payment. There are likely limits on the type of programs that will be covered, so make sure to talk to your husband’s provider before enrollment.
Whatever drug rehab program you choose, it is essential to find the right one. Tailored treatment programs have the highest rates of success because they address the unique needs of the individual.
Your family can and should play a role in your husband’s recovery. Some programs incorporate family members into the treatment process via family therapy sessions or family event days. It is essential that you enroll him in an addiction treatment program that can accommodate your needs.
Addiction Affects the Entire Family
In any home, when one family member is struggling with an addiction, even if they believe that they are hiding their substance abuse well, there is a huge negative impact on everyone else in the family. In fact, almost no part of the family goes untouched when addiction is an issue for a spouse.
- Relationships. Your marriage is the primary relationship in your life. When that bond is broken by the dishonesty and distance that comes with substance abuse, it cannot survive for long.The strain caused by walking on eggshells due to your husband’s addiction, feeling as if you are running the house alone and/or raising children alone, and the arguments that are unavoidable when the consequences of addiction begin to mount can destroy your marriage and your self-confidence along with it.
- Addiction is expensive. Drugs and alcohol cost money, and when your husband is actively abusing substances, he will not be able to maintain a job or contribute to household income for long. He may even dip into the family finances to pay for his drugs when he can no longer afford to hide the cost.Many living with addiction wipe out college savings funds and retirement accounts, run up credit card bills, borrow money, and clean out the money set aside for rent and groceries simply because they have access to the accounts as one of the primary household members.
- Alcohol and other substances are toxins. They cause inflammation in the body, break down the immune system, and contribute to chronic disease as well as acute medical issues. Overdose is always a risk, but someone living with an active addiction is often sick, rundown, and unable to function mentally or physically, creating a dark cloud that lingers over the house and rarely lifts.
- Even if your children are young or you believe they do not know about your husband’s addiction, they can tell when the atmosphere is tense and they know that something is often “wrong” with Dad. When Dad is in charge and either under the influence or dealing with withdrawal symptoms because he is without his drug of choice, his focus is not fully on the kids and making sure they are okay.Similarly, even if you are completely abstinent, your focus is on what is going on with your husband. You are preoccupied with continually putting out the fires started by his choices while under the influence. This means you are not as present with the kids as you should be, and they likely sense your unhappiness.No matter how it plays out, addiction in a parent is a risk for children in terms of their future risk of developing an addiction of their own.
Essentially, there is no way to ignore the problem if your husband is living with an addiction. The best course forward is to address it head on, helping your spouse get into the treatment program he needs to get back on track.
Outpatient Options for Treatment
For many, outpatient addiction treatment is the first course of action. If you have insurance and your husband has never been to a drug rehab before, they will likely require that you first attend an outpatient facility due to the lower cost, unless there is a medical need for inpatient, round-the-clock care.
Many families find that outpatient treatment provides them with everything they need. Depending on the intensity of the program, your husband may attend four to six hours of therapy sessions and group meetings each weekday, leaving him free in the evenings and on weekends unless there are special events.
During that off time, he will be expected to remain drug- and alcohol-free, attend 12-step meetings, and do any assigned “homework” that will help him to continue his personal journey in sobriety.
As a family, this can be a good time to begin to repair and rebuild relationships. Your marriage can grow stronger as you attend some family therapy or couples counseling sessions together or go to 12-step meetings that are open to the public. Similarly, your husband may be able to spend quality time with the kids, showing up in their lives in a way he may not have been emotionally and mentally able to in the past due to active addiction.
It’s important to note that there may be a few roadblocks to effective treatment in recovery. These may include:
- Sustained sobriety. Without 24-hour supervision, it is easier to relapse. Accountability is usually maintained through impromptu drug tests, but especially in the beginning, a potential dirty test is not always a strong enough deterrent to use.Sometimes, it can help to live in a sober living home in the first stages of treatment. In this environment, there are fewer triggers for relapse since no alcohol or drugs are allowed in the house.
- Lack of immediate medical support. Your husband may be able to access certain medications to assist him in the detox process, depending on his drug of choice and the withdrawal symptoms he is experiencing. He will not have immediate access to medical care at home should he need it.If your husband suffers from a severe addiction, he may require an initial stay in a medical detox program to safely get through the withdrawal process.
- Lack of guidance for family members. It is not always easy for family members who are understandably hurt, angry, and scared after a long-term addiction to shift gears and fully embrace the new mindset positioned for those in treatment. Your husband may seem to have completely changed his ideology overnight, or he may be resistant to what he is hearing.Though you may be included in family therapy sessions, you will need to seek out your own support system as you let go of expectations. It is important to embrace the notion that you cannot control the choices your husband makes, but you can be supportive of his recovery while pursuing your own.
- Lack of time and space for your husband. The detox process can be intense, and when your husband goes through this process on an outpatient basis, you and your family may be exposed to some of his most difficult times physically, emotionally, and mentally.He will need a lot of emotional room to focus on his recovery and get through the hard parts. As challenging as it will be, the idea is to step back as much as possible and let him go through what he needs to without imposing judgment or direction.
The Logistics of Residential Rehab
Residential drug rehab, or inpatient addiction treatment, provides 24-hour support for your husband while he is in recovery. In some cases, residential care may be strictly for the detox period when medical issues are at their most acute. In other cases, inpatient treatment may begin post detox and last for a month or more, depending on the needs of the patient.
In most cases, residential treatment is designed to be a 30-day process, but if your husband has attempted outpatient and/or inpatient drug rehab, then it is a good idea to keep an open mind and allow for the possibility of extension. It may be that after 30 days, he is just getting to a point where he is feeling grounded in recovery. An additional 30 or 60 days will help him to feel more grounded.
In general, it is recommended to stay in treatment for as long as possible. The longer your husband is in an environment where the focus is pro-sobriety, and he is getting constant support from peers and staff to make lifestyle changes that support sobriety, the more likely it is that he will be able to stay sober for the long term.
Inpatient treatment may not be the right choice for everyone. Some considerations include:
- Inpatient care is expensive because your payment covers the cost of room and board as well as staffing to support 24-hour care and increased wear and tear on facilities. Your insurance may not cover the bill at all, or they may only cover part, leaving you to pay for the rest out of pocket.After an expensive addiction, it can be difficult to find the money to cover these costs. If price is a consideration, choosing a more affordable outpatient program may be a better option.
- It is important for you to play a role in your husband’s recovery. Though you cannot stay sober for him, your support can help him to stay on track. This often means being there in person for family therapy sessions. If there is no nearby inpatient facility that is accessible to you, this may not be an option.
- You husband will need to have access to treatments and therapies that will support his recovery. These are chosen based on his drug history, medical history, and mental health needs.Not all drug rehab programs are created equal and provide the same selection of care services. Taking the time to explore options and talk to medical providers in advance about what is recommended in terms of traditional, alternative, and holistic treatments will help you to identify the right program for your husband.
- Safety zone. Some people express difficulty with transitioning out of an inpatient program. Because it is such an insular environment, it is far easier to avoid relapse when enrolled in treatment. If careful attention is not paid to implementing positive lifestyle changes that will support sobriety during inpatient treatment, it can be difficult to transfer that perspective and focus during the transition back to a life defined by home and work stressors.
You may know that it’s better for your husband to live elsewhere during treatment, but maybe he doesn’t need the 24-hour care provided by a residential program. In this instance, a sober living home may be the answer while he undergoes outpatient treatment.
In a sober living home, your husband will live with others who are also in recovery from substance abuse. The facility will have strict rules regarding curfews, treatment participation, cleanliness, and visitors. While residents have some freedom since they can generally leave the home freely outside of restricted hours, they have a solid support system in place to bolster sobriety.
Many sober living homes are affiliated with specific treatment programs. This means residents can often build off the work they may be doing together in group therapy.
For you and your family, it can be difficult to be away from him, but the space provided by a sober living home gives you and your children room to rebuild emotionally. You may not realize how much of your life has revolved around your husband’s addiction until it is no longer a factor. Returning to a schedule that supports your health and wellness through restorative sleep, healthy eating, and less stress over arguments, worry, and financial concerns can be a huge relief for everyone in your home.
Though children may be confused or upset by your husband’s absence, it is far better for them to miss their dad than it is for them to be exposed to the unexpected and often volatile or unhappy nature of continued, active addiction in their home.
Sober living homes provide a transitional step for many in recovery. Your husband may continue to live in a sober living home once his outpatient program is complete. The safe environment can provide necessary support during the vulnerable phase of early recovery. This means he will have a strong foundation before he returns home to your family.
Involving the Family in the Recovery Process
No matter what style of drug rehab your husband experiences, it is important that you play a role in his recovery process. As a spouse, you are partnered in his experience and will play a key role in setting up and creating boundaries that support both of you. You will have a say in how things unfold, and your needs are just as vital and important as your husband’s needs.
It is important to take the time to fully understand the nature of addiction and how it has impacted you and your life before you commit yourself to supporting your husband’s recovery in full. Do not overlook the importance of noticing how your boundaries have changed over the years, what your true goals for your life are, and what you need from your partner, even if it feels unrealistic at the onset of treatment.
To prepare, it is a good idea to:
- Learn more about codependency. Sustaining a relationship with someone in an active addiction requires codependency to some degree. Though you may be vehemently against his use of substances, your continued presence and support can inadvertently empower your husband to continue boldly forward in active drug use. Why? Because he believes that nothing will change if he keeps using drugs.Setting boundaries and following through on promises to stop supporting his addiction and prioritizing your own well-being and that of your children, if applicable, are essential to his ability to get and stay sober.
- Find a support system of your own. There are groups out there designed specifically to support family members and friends with addicted loved ones. Find one that is local to you, seek them out online, and connect with them regularly to give and get support. They will help you to be more objective about your experience, and they will support you during tough times while celebrating your wins.
- Work on yourself separately. Though you will attend family therapy or couples counseling with your husband, it is important that you also see a therapist on your own. You will likely discuss your relationship with your husband and his addiction, but it is important to focus primarily on what you need to move forward and live the life of contentment and peace that you deserve.
- Be aware of how you, your husband, and your marriage are changing. Change is inevitable, and during addiction treatment it can happen rapidly. There is no consistent trajectory forward. There will be quite a bit of emotional and circumstantial back and forth as your husband makes his way toward a new life.There can also be no real change at all. Your husband may not choose to stick to sobriety and do the work to avoid relapse. Know that change may come or it may not. You are still going to be responsible for yourself and making decisions regarding your marriage and your family’s future.
- Know that you cannot control your husband’s choices or the future. You can’t do this for him, but you can let him know that you support him. It’s a tough line to walk, but being overly involved can be enabling. It is important to give him the space to make his own decisions and then, based on how things unfold, determine what will work best for you and your children.
- Recognize that there is value in all outcomes. Your marriage may survive your husband’s addiction, or it may not. Prioritize your emotional and physical safety above all else. Know that no matter how things ultimately work out for him and for the two of you, you will be stronger for the experience.