If you recently realized that your husband uses drugs, you probably have a lot of unanswered questions. Before you rush to help him or decide to leave him, we recommend taking the following steps to better understand the problem and identify possible solutions.
Deal with Your Emotions First
Maybe you’re angry at him for keeping his habit a secret, or at yourself for failing to realize how bad it got. Maybe you’re confused and disoriented because it seems so uncharacteristic of him. Whatever you’re feeling, don’t let anyone — including yourself or your husband — force you to dismiss or ignore it.
Avoidance and repression are the enemies of progress because you can’t come to terms with this issue until you acknowledge and fully experience the current effects on both your lives. Until you take the time to work through these feelings in a productive way, don’t make any life-changing decisions or give your husband any ultimatums.
Hold Him Accountable for His Behaviors
If your husband is emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive, don’t blame the drugs in an effort to explain or forgive his behaviors. Ultimately, he’s still responsible for his choices, whether he’s using or not. As long as you coddle him and gloss over the hurtful consequences of his actions, he won’t take responsibility for the damage he’s doing. Your safety, and that of your children, if you have any together, is always paramount.
Don’t blame yourself. Whatever his reasons or explanations for starting to use drugs, neither you nor anyone else forced him to make that choice. He had healthier options to choose including asking you to work through it as a team or seeking help to stop. Wait for a time when your husband is not high and start the conversation of what is happening and how it makes you feel. Don’t expect this to be a one-time conversation as it may take some time to discuss. Here are some tips:
- Let him know you care and want to see him healthy and happy above all.
- Explain what you will and won’t accept in his behavior and the consequences of his choices.
- Keep the door of communication and support open. Even if your marriage may not survive this, you likely still want to see him alive, clean, and happy.
- Be positive but realistic for him and you—he can change but it’s all up to him.
- Follow through on your promises and consequences.
- You are the stabilizing influence for your family first.
- Explore options for help to discuss with him if and when he’s open to them.
- Shield young children from as much as you can and be open and available for older children. Safety and age appropriate communication are keys.
• Catalog every issue or problem—pick a representative few as examples and stay factual, not punishing or coercing.
• Focus on the past. Be willing to see change and build on that.
• Promise relationship or other outcomes only to get him to want to get clean.
• Use threats, interventions, and ultimatums, as they tend to backfire.
Prioritize Yourself and Your Family
Your husband’s substance use struggles might have started with his own private decisions, but the consequences are now affecting you and your marriage. If you have kids, their lives will likely change as well. Don’t underestimate the importance of being your own advocate. Your husband’s needs seem more pressing and serious than anyone else’s needs, especially if he’s self-destructive, but the rest of your family needs you too. If he’s unavailable due to using or while getting help, you become the sole parent and you have to have the energy and strength to be there for your family.
Of course, if you or your children are in immediate physical danger, this means you should do whatever it takes to eliminate the threat. Arrange to stay with relatives or have him removed from the home if he abuses you or your kids, brings strangers into your home, or leaves drugs and paraphernalia out. Protect you and the kids first and then you can help your husband if it’s safe.
Encourage Him to Explore Multiple Options
Drugs don’t define your husband, but if he enters a 12-Step program, you’ll both be told that he has an “incurable disease” called drug addiction. This belief is incredibly common, and it might be the only one you’ve been exposed to. That doesn’t mean it’s right.
Saint Jude Retreats doesn’t “treat” drug addiction because we aren’t dealing with a disease but people who have made poor choices. We welcome individuals to tackle their drug habits using our Cognitive Behavioral Learning (CBL) program. Our program emphasizes personal responsibility and empowerment and our graduates don’t rely on a lifetime of AA meetings to stay clean but on their own power and freedom of choice. It’s why our long term success rate is 12x higher than the industry average and our former guests are happier in life because they are in control and no longer victims.
If this program sounds like one you and your husband would like to learn more about, please call one of our Family Consultants today.