Addiction is one of life’s greatest misfortunes, and it can effect anyone. Anyone can be lured by the appeal of a quick escape, including great husbands (even husbands who are also fathers). That once lovely guy is suddenly like a stranger to you. It begins as a sort of double life; perhaps, he’s partying too much or gambling on the weekends, but soon it begins to spiral out of control and the effects of his addiction are felt by one and all. Addiction can be hazardous, and as his wife it’s your duty to protect yourself and your family from the unpredictability and dangers of addiction. Is your husband an addict?
Addiction is Addiction and it Requires Treatment
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is defined as “a primary, chronic disease of the brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.” Basically, it is a dysfunction in the circuits that help people control themselves; for addicts, there is no control over the impulse and the addict pathologically pursues the “reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”
There are so many different types of addiction, and your husband maybe be addicted to any one of the following: substances (drugs), food, gambling, alcohol, drugs, food, video games, sex, or pornography. Yes, sexual addiction is very real, even in stable marriages. There’s even behavioral addictions that can occur, for example working too much or compulsive online shopping.
No matter what your husband’s addicted to, it’s serious; serious enough that he needs help, and you may need help too. All addictions are bad, but some are worse than others because many have higher potential to damage more than just the addict (in this case, you, his wife). Gambling can destroy the family’s finances; alcoholism may lead to blackouts and physical abuse; sexual addiction has a huge psychological effect on spouses; etc.
Treatment Options for Male Addicts
Luckily, there is treatment for every type of addiction, from drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities to sex addiction treatment centers for men. It’s important that he attends a center that is addiction specific, as this is going to ensure he gets the kind of individualized treatment that’s proven to work.
In a structured setting, he’ll be worked with individually and in groups. Groups are great because they show him he’s not alone, and his one-on-one therapies will provide him with safe spaces to discuss his underlying issues. 12-steps can help him rebuild self-esteem, confidence, and learn self-control; hopefully, the end result is that he returns to you as the man you truly know and love.
The best thing is to research treatment centers before confronting him about his addiction. This way, you have something to present him with (an offer of help).
Talking to Him About Addiction
It may be a good idea to talk to an interventionist or addiction specialist. These individuals often offer their service low-cost or with no cost at all. They can help facilitate a conversation that essentially creates a rock bottom for your spouse, and provides no other reasonable alternative (other than getting the help he desperately needs).
A frank and honest approach is typically best. Be clear that action is needed in order for relationships to continue. Unfortunately, for very addicted individuals even the threat of divorce or losing children isn’t enough. In this case, you must be willing to protect yourself and your kids by walking away.
It can be lonely and painful to live with an addicted husband, but you should never enable him. An addicted person loses all honesty and dignity at some point. But, all is not lost. If you can convince him to get help, the marriage may remain strong.