How to help your addict
This post is for husbands/wives of users. It is not for boyfriends and girlfriends or anyone else. If you are someone else, feel free to read and maybe something will help. However, my experience is as a wife with an addicted husband.
For all of you that are married to an addict: I assume you have all been given much of the same advice I had been given when I first started looking for help. I was told to leave him. I was told that I was enabling him. I was told that by staying, it meant I was codependent and I could never help him, that if I stayed, things would only get worse. I was told that our marriage would not survive. I was told to run away now while I could still have a life of my own. Among other things, good and bad, of course.
They were wrong.
I stayed. I helped. Yes, I suffered, but it was worth it. It was worth it because I have a clean husband, because my marriage survived, because we are both happy. It has been the hardest experience of my life, but I would do it again to get where we are now. Absolutely. Without a doubt.
If your decision is to stay, you need to know what you are getting into. Read, listen, study, learn all you can about meth, addiction, and recovery. Understand that the battle ahead is going to SUCK! Understand that it is going to hurt, that you will have to make sacrifices and that it will be the worst thing you have ever gone through. But like I said, I would do it again.
Yes, you can help. Yes, you can stay without enabling and being codependent. Yes, your marriage can survive.
Also, as yet another disclaimer, this advice is for those whose problem is meth. If there are other problems in your marriage, problems from before there was meth, then those are problems that will have to be solved or worked out otherwise. This advice concerns the present problem; meth.
Why didn’t I leave my husband?
Because I don’t believe in divorce.
Because I love him.
Because I was going to stay true to my vows.
Why face a decision that I have already made? On my wedding day I vowed that I would stay… in this situation. I said “I do”, not “I do if he does”. I already made my choice.
Here are the things NOT to do: Cry, Beg, Plead, Fight, Argue, Yell, Scream, Get Angry, Act Desperate, Give Ultimatums. These are all very emotional responses to our addict's behavior. They are all born out of fear and anger and hurt. Addicts can't handle that. In spite of all the drama the addict creates, he literally, physically cannot handle our drama. Not that it is fair, but it is the way it is. It will get us no where. And the only place it will get them, if anywhere, is angry and craving.
Be available to "your addict". Do not try to confront him unless he is sober and willing to listen. Do not try to confront him unless you are in full control of your emotions. Keep your emotions out of their sight (I did not say it would be fair). Getting upset? Bite your tongue and wait. He is picking a fight with you? Good chance he is doing just as an excuse to get pissed and go use. Do NOT take the bait. Back down, respectfully.
Be willing to talk, to listen, to be there and be prepared when the opportunity arises. Those windows of opportunity when he is willing to talk, admit, and ask for help are going to be so very short.
Recognize that he is living in a "hell" of his own. Although it is his fault for getting here, he is in as much pain as you, if not more.
Another thing. And this is very important.
You think you would never do this. How could he choose this over me? How could he hurt us like this? I never would! Well, to put it bluntly, get over it. Meth is tricky, deceitful and highly addictive. In the wrong moment, with the right circumstances, have you never made one bad decision? Because that's all it takes. Yes, one bad decision. Know what that means? It could have been you. Yes, it could have been you!! You must realize that. And you must make your addict understand that. Why? Well...
Your addict feels inferior to you. I guarantee it. You wonder why he has a hard time talking to you? Well, this could be why. As arrogant as he seems, it is true. Feeling inferior, unworthy, like a failure, etc. are the number one reasons for relapse, in my opinion. Your addict needs to know that you are not better than him, needs to know that you do not feel better than him or look down on him. And that is up to you. Don’t “think” he knows it. Make sure. Tell him. Tell him again…
Your addict will need encouragement as they finally face recovery. Nothing negative. Only encouragement. And that involves forgiveness. Someone doesn't have to seek your forgiveness in order for you to give it, either.
Encourage your addict in every possible way. Do not lie, do not B.S. But if they have made it a week, a day, an hour... be proud of them and make it known. If they smell good after a shower, tell them! And everything in between.
Don’t live your relationship on your terms. Give him what he needs (not what he wants, not what you want). As the addict's loved one who has made a decision to see him through, it is up to you to find your own peace, for that peace to be an example to him, and for that peace to sustain you. My peace came from God. If you are believer, then now is the time to pray like you never have before. My prayers were answered. My husband finally turned to God and begged for help. And he got it.
It is so nice to wake up in the morning and smile instead of worry, to laugh instead of cry.
Didn’t realize how long that was. I’ll stop now. Because I think I could go on forever.
I hope the best for you all.
Also, if you haven’t already, read sfj’s post “To wives, from a husband’s point of view”. Good stuff.
Edited by: Cassandra