How Can I Support My Husband in His Recovery?

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A spouse’s role can be one of the most important in helping an individual through addiction recovery. You can support your husband through every part of his journey to a better life, including his treatment, his aftercare, and everything in between.

The NIH states, “When friends and family show that they care, it can help people stick with treatment even when it’s very hard.” Below are some of the best ways to support your husband through his recovery process.

Step One: Be Non-confrontational and Discuss the Need for Treatment.

If you are at the point where you are ready to help your husband understand his need for treatment, remember to be as non-confrontational as possible, especially if he has been using some of the more dangerous illicit substances such as heroin¬†or methamphetamine. According to CESAR, “A person should use extreme caution when dealing with an individual on methamphetamine.” Listed below are several tips for discussing your husband’s need for treatment.

  • Do not blame your husband or use a combative tone. Doing so will likely make him less receptive to your feelings. Instead, discuss his possible need for treatment in a way that is as clear-cut and calm as possible.
  • Do not bring up hurt feelings or your own issues with his drug abuse. You will need to work through these problems but at a later time.
  • Consider setting up an intervention with some of your husband’s closest family members and friends. You may even choose to hire a professional interventionist to help make sure everything runs smoothly.
  • The best way to help your husband, however, is to make sure that nothing escalates to a dangerous point. In that sense, if your husband cannot discuss the need for treatment rationally, you may need to avoid the conversation at all in order to keep anyone from getting hurt. The NIDA states, “Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective,” and “sanctions or enticements from family” can be necessary and even beneficial for the individual at times.

Step Two: Find a Treatment Center.

When looking for a treatment center, it is best to consider those that meet your husband’s needs before anyone else’s. In some cases, it is beneficial for male addicts to attend treatment with only other men, while in others mixed-gender treatment centers are acceptable. Some of your husband’s needs that you may want to consider include:

  • Budget
  • Comfort level with a particular facility
  • Religious-based treatment vs. secular treatment
  • Pharmacological treatment vs. natural treatment
  • Inpatient care vs. outpatient care

The more of your husband’s needs that are met by any given rehab facility, the more comfortable he will likely be. If possible, it is important to make sure that you are both part of the process in deciding where he will attend treatment. Our database lists a number of facilities by state, and you can also consult with your doctor about possible centers nearby. Your husband’s needs are important and should be recognized in the facility of his choice, but by helping him find a particular rehab center, you can show him that you are invested in his recovery too.

Step Three: Support Continued Treatment.

It is easy for individuals in addiction treatment to come up with excuses to not attend. By supporting his continued treatment, you are showing that it is important to both you and him that he continues on this beneficial path. “Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical,” and here are some ways in which you can help ensure that your husband attends his treatment program and sees it through:

  • Offer to drive him to and from treatment sessions if he is attending outpatient treatment. With this gesture, you are showing him that it is not his burden alone to bear and that he has your support and help.
  • Visit often if he is staying in an inpatient facility. If you have children together, discuss the possibility of bringing them to visit as well. Continuing to visit shows that you haven’t forgotten how hard he is working to get sober and recover from his addiction, even if you cannot be together all the time.
  • Encourage him to pursue aftercare treatment. Many rehab programs do the same, and it will help show him that recovery is a process and that does not end when treatment does.
  • If possible, attend family or couples therapy sessions with your husband. This way, you can discuss the issues his addiction has caused in your relationship and explain your feelings to one another under the supervision of a professional counselor.

Step Four: Support Sober Living.

It can be extremely difficult for someone to live soberly after struggling for months (or years) with addiction. While many behaviors that become addictions (like sex and Internet use) often need to be managed without being completely stopped, someone who becomes addicted to drinking and drug abuse needs to avoid these activities at all costs. Here are some ways you can support sober living after and during your husband’s treatment.

  • Make sure to plan at least one fun activity a week that does not involve drugs or alcohol.
  • Remove any mind-altering substances from your home before your husband returns from treatment as well as any objects that may trigger his desire to drink/use drugs.
  • Acknowledge milestones in your spouse’s sobriety. It may even be beneficial to celebrate them between the two of you.
  • In the case of a relapse, remind your husband that you are here for him and that it does not mean his recovery or his treatment has been a failure. Help him continue to seek the treatment he needs as a follow-up.

Step Five: Focus on Your Healing.

One of the best ways to support your husband’s recovery is to work on your own. Whether you decide to attend a support group for family members of addicts, start a therapy regimen to discuss how his addiction has affected you, or choose another path, it is just as important to heal yourself as it is to support his choices and life changes. According to SAMHSA, family members can become “champions of their loved one’s recovery,” and there are many ways to do so, including helping yourself recover too.