If your spouse has been struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, you may be nearing the end of your proverbial rope. Recognizing the signs of drug use in your husband can be devastating. Moreover, constantly fearing for and supporting your spouse as he continues to make decisions that jeopardize his own life can be incredibly draining.
Family members of addicts frequently suffer financial distress, emotional distress, and severe symptoms of physical stress, even as their loved ones refuse help and repeat their self-harming behaviors. Staging an intervention for addiction is both a way to get your husband to accept the help he needs and a way to set solid boundaries for protecting your own well-being.
When done correctly, interventions can be inspiring, life-changing events. When done poorly, they often fail to produce the desired outcome, and they may even lead to significant emotional harm.
Planning for an Intervention
One of the biggest mistakes that families make when staging these events is failing to plan for them. Planning an intervention entails:
- Setting up a Pre-Intervention to develop a plan with a Clinical Professional.
- Determining and clearly defining the boundaries you intend to set.
- Deciding which close friends and family members will be the best representatives of the message you want to convey.
- Choosing a location for the intervention.
- Plan to eliminate any potential obstacles that may delay your husband in making the decision.
- Preparing options for treatment programs should your husband choose to accept treatment.
Effective interventions also tend to be highly scripted. People should know exactly what they intend to say, and what the most likely response to their statements may be. Carefully considering the words that are used during these presentations ensures that their delivery is not overly emotional, that the meeting does not spiral out of control, and that all statements made are helpful rather than harmful.
Given the complexity that intervention planning entails, many families choose to get help from professional interventionists, rehab centers, and others working within the mental health or addiction treatment industries.
Things to Avoid When Planning an Intervention for Addiction
If you’ve been asking, “How can I help my husband with drug addiction?”, you’re not alone. Living with an addict is never easy. You probably have a lot that you want to say about how your husband’s addiction has affected your own well-being. You may even have children that have been negatively impacted. However, contrary to popular belief, one of the most important things to avoid during an intervention is making statements that incite feelings of overwhelming guilt.
Few people feel more guilty and ashamed of their actions and behaviors than those living with substance use disorder. Rather than being a personal choice or a sign of personal shortcomings, addiction is a disease. Planning an intervention for addiction is an opportunity to show your love and support, and a chance to offer help. You should avoid reaffirming any feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness that your husband already feels.
Avoid staging an intervention at home. When confronted in a familiar environment, a person struggling with substance use disorder has a high likelihood of choosing to retreat. Your husband may head towards a bedroom, the bathroom, or any other closed-off area to avoid continuing the conversation as soon as it becomes too uncomfortable. Conversely, staging the meeting in a public space increases your chances of having your pre-scripted statements be heard in their entirety.
An addiction intervention is not a time for negotiation. Many families holding interventions recognize that one or more parties have been engaging in enabling behaviors. An addict may have family members making excuses for them, paying for their rent or other living costs, or simply giving money to support their habit.
As the wife of an addict, you may be:
- Calling in sick for your husband at work
- Maintaining sole responsibility of parenting
- Paying for all living expenses
- Cleaning up your husband’s messes
When defining your boundaries, these are things that must be taken away. In exchange, the addicted individual has the option of getting help. Create firm boundaries if your husband does not accept the help, then what is the family willing to set forth as consequential measures. With help, men with substance use disorder can both achieve sobriety and lasting recovery and obtain the skills and tools for establishing a comfortable, sustainable lifestyle on their own. Negotiating undermines your efforts to ensure that help is accepted.
Important Steps to Take When Staging an Intervention
If you’re married to an addict, one of the most important steps to take before planning an intervention is being able to recognize the signs of drug use in your husband. Be prepared for outright denial, and be prepared to accept what your husband may report. Placing our emotions within the responses can side rail the focus, which is getting him into treatment. The focus on the family dynamic can be resolved while your husband is in treatment. You may want to make a list of the signs and symptoms of drug use that you have been seeing, including:
- Using substances that aren’t prescribed or needed for a medical problem
- Bloodshot eyes, significant and unexplained weight loss, and other physical or health changes
- An increasing inability to set personal limits
- Changes in spending habits
- Family avoidance, or involvement in everyday living or special events
- Signs of anxiety stressors having difficulties dealing with ordinary life.
- Failure to maintain basic responsibilities.
When confronting your husband about addiction and establishing your boundaries, you want to avoid making generalizations. Be specific about what you’ve been seeing and experiencing, what your fears are, and why you’re choosing to intervene.
Be sure to express your love and support all throughout this presentation. Let your husband know that you are worried about his health, that you want your relationship to work, and that you’re committed to helping him deal with his illness. Even as you do this, however, be prepared to lovingly detach. With married couples who are still sharing a home, loving detachment can be a complex and challenging effort.
As you define your boundaries, determine which forms of support you intend to continue providing, which forms of support you are no longer able to offer, and how you will manage your future living arrangements. It is important to avoid making people feel as though they are totally on their own. With loving detachment, the goal is to confirm that help is always available when your husband is ready to receive it.
At Recovery Bay, we have a variety of programs for men living with substance use disorder. We offer medically assisted detox, inpatient men’s rehab, and multiple options in mental health support. If you’re the wife of an addict and want to know more about staging a successful intervention or would like to find the right form of addiction treatment for your spouse, we can help. Call us now at 833-991-2955.