Opioid addiction is increasing all over the country. While some areas are affected more than others, substance use disorders occur in people from all walks of life — including those who have families.
It can be overwhelming to realize that someone close to you is struggling with opioid addiction. If your spouse is currently suffering from opioid addiction, help is available. Treatment facilities like Swift River offer rehab services that include detoxification, mental health counseling, and family therapy.
As you learn more about opioid addiction and available treatment, there are some points to keep in mind:
1. Know That You Are Not Alone
It can be overwhelming to realize that your spouse is struggling with opioid addiction. As much as you may want to ignore the issue and pretend it’s not happening, this can cause even more tension.
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Addiction hurts more than just the person who is using drugs or alcohol. For many people, having an addicted loved one causes a sense of shame or embarrassment. However, this disease plagues millions of families across the U.S. An estimated 20 million Americans battle a drug or alcohol addiction, and many of these people struggle with opioids.
Because this problem is so widespread, there are many sources of support available for spouses and families of those who are addicted. Many people find these support groups so encouraging, they continue attending even after their loved one enters recovery.
2. Learn About Addiction
It can be tempting to view a problem like substance abuse solely as your spouse’s issue. However, you have probably already experienced the many ways that addiction can impact the whole family.
Addiction is defined as a chronic relapsing brain disorder. Opioid use disorder is a form of addiction, and is a chronic disease characterized by strong drug cravings. When a person is dependent on opioids, they may experience major health, social, and economic problems.
People with opioid use disorder may also have powerful and compulsive urges to use opioids, regardless of the consequences. This can cause a person to say or do things that are outside of their normal character. Some people may even seem to turn into a different person. Much of this is due to the way addiction changes the chemistry of the brain.
If your spouse abuses opioids, you may already be acquainted with the consequences of active addiction. For many people, these impacts include financial issues, legal problems, broken trust, and social isolation.
In a marriage or family relationship, these problems can quickly escalate into disagreements, emotional tension, or even violence. Your spouse may display mood swings and a general lack of care or responsibility. If your spouse’s opioid addiction has led to any of these issues, it’s important to reach out for support.
3. Consider Available Treatment Options
One of the ways families address opioid abuse is through formal addiction treatment. Modern addiction treatment programs continue to improve, and many facilities include the family as part of the recovery process.
The first step toward recovering from opioid addiction is detoxification. When a person abuses opioids, they may become physically dependent. This means that if a person stops using the drugs suddenly, they will likely develop symptoms like anxiety, nausea, sweating, and chills.
Although opioid withdrawal is not usually life-threatening, it can be very uncomfortable. Addiction treatment centers like Swift River offer on-site medical detox services in order to support patients throughout the detoxification process.
Once a person has successfully detoxed, rehab centers typically offer a range of comprehensive therapies. At Swift River, these include dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), group counseling, relapse prevention, and nature-based therapies.
4. Talk To Your Spouse About Treatment
One of the most challenging aspects of addiction is knowing how to talk about it. Many people find it difficult to approach their spouse about treatment options, especially if the person denies there is a problem.
In these situations, it may be best to use an intervention strategy. An intervention is a supportive, direct conversation that aims to confront a person about their substance abuse. The overall goal of an intervention goal is to show the person they have a support system, and encourage them to seek treatment.
Interventions can be performed by family, friends, coworkers, or a spouse. If the person has a history of denial or aggression, it may be best to have a doctor, therapist, or clergy member in attendance.
Another option is a professional intervention. These include licensed therapists who specialize in helping family members stage an intervention. These professionals are experts in the fields of communication as well as addiction treatment.
Interventions can be very emotional. Using a professional intervention service allows for an objective guide throughout the process. If feelings of anger or denial come up, the therapist may help to keep the conversation solutions-based.
5. Find An Ongoing Support Community
Whether your spouse chooses to enter treatment or not, you may experience a range of emotions. If your spouse enrolls in a rehab facility, you may feel immense relief. Some spouses also experience bouts of resentment, especially if they are left to tend to household responsibilities.
Whatever your personal situation, you may benefit from seeking ongoing support. Groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon offer no-cost meetings in most towns and cities. Additionally, many people benefit from engaging in mindfulness groups, yoga practices, or therapy sessions. These self-care practices can help spouses reduce stress and build a sense of emotional resilience.
Addiction treatment is not a quick fix, and often involves several steps. At Swift River, we provide family therapy and follow-up services for spouses and children. These counseling sessions allow families to process their emotions and develop positive coping skills.
Getting Help For Opioid Abuse And Addiction
It can be challenging to walk through an addiction with your spouse. Luckily, you are not in this alone. There are thriving recovery communities throughout the U.S., and you can get help, regardless of whether your spouse chooses to seek treatment.
Addiction treatment options offer spouses a sense of encouragement and hope. For more information about opioid addiction, or to explore treatment options near you, contact a Swift River representative today.
- Psychology Today — So You're Married to An Addict: Is Divorce Inevitable?
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
- National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine — Opioid addiction