Loving an Addict: How to Help Your Partner or Spouse with Addiction

When your partner is struggling with substance abuse, you might feel worried, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to help your partner stop using drugs or alcohol. While being proactive about helping your husband with addiction or helping your wife with addiction can allow them to get the care and treatment they need, it’s just as important to take care of your needs and ensure your safety and health as well.

Although you can’t force someone to stop abusing substances or make them seek help if they’re not yet ready to do so, you can take steps to encourage them to enter rehab so they can care for their health, improve your relationship, and ultimately stop the cycle of substance use and addiction.

How to Help Your Partner Struggling with Addiction

Spouses in therapy

As mentioned above, you can encourage your partner and learn more about how to help them, but it’s important to understand that you can’t make them do something that they don’t want to do, including stopping drug or alcohol abuse and going to rehab. Whether they’re ready or not, however, you can take steps to encourage them and show your love and support in the following ways:

  • Suggest that they talk to their doctor about their drug or alcohol use and be evaluated for a substance use disorder evaluation and offer to accompany them to the appointment.1
  • Talk to them in an honest, non-confrontational way that shows concern and support.2
  • Research treatment facilities online1 or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s confidential helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for free information and referrals to treatment.
  • Call treatment facilities to ask for advice about how to approach your spouse about seeking help.1
  • Maintain a patient and compassionate attitude and understand that it can take time for your partner to feel ready to seek help.2

How to Talk to Your Spouse or Partner About Addiction Treatment & Rehab

Preparing for a conversation with your partner about their substance use is an important step. It is helpful to have an idea of how to broach this topic so that you feel calm, in control, and ready to address this difficult subject.

Remember that without court-ordered treatment, you cannot force someone into treatment, but you can speak with them in a way that might help them see the need to get help.

When you have the conversation, it’s important to stay calm and focused on the specific issues that you’re worried or concerned about, so if you’re feeling angry or upset, it might be better to put off a discussion until a later date.

The process of getting into rehab doesn’t have to be a challenge. You or your partner can call to ask questions and get more information about the addiction treatment admissions process. We will develop an individualized treatment plan that considers all your partner’s needs, such as their medical history, severity of substance use, and any co-occurring mental health disorders (such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD). The next step will be your loved one’s arrival at the treatment facility, where they’ll undergo an assessment before they start treatment.

How to Cope with a Spouse Who Struggles with Addiction

Trying to cope when your spouse or partner is struggling with addiction can be challenging. As previously mentioned, it’s important to ensure your own safety and wellness first and foremost. Even though you may have seen firsthand how the disease of addiction can change the way a person acts, that doesn’t mean that it’s an excuse for poor behavior or that it is okay for them to treat you in a disrespectful or abusive manner.

Someone using drugs or alcohol can seem like a completely different person when they are under the influence, and they can display erratic behavior or unpredictable mood swings that could make you or others feel unsafe. Ensure your safety and take necessary steps, such as staying with a friend or calling authorities, if you feel that you or your loved ones are in a potentially unsafe situation.

It’s also important to make time to care for yourself and ensure that your needs are met. You can’t help someone else if you don’t first take care of yourself, and you have a right to have your needs taken care of despite what anyone else might be going through. If you are having difficulty separating your feelings and needs from the other person’s and you find that their mood determines how you feel, then you may be experiencing codependence. This can be harmful to you, your partner, and your relationship overall, which is one reason why taking care of yourself is so important.

Understand What Your Partner Who is Struggling with Substance Abuse is Going Through

Educating yourself about addiction and substance use can strengthen your relationship with your partner, allowing you to better understand what they are going through and what to expect when your family member is in addiction treatment. Addiction is a disease that is unlikely to get better without treatment, so even though you might think that your partner can stop using alcohol or drugs through willpower alone, it’s usually not as simple as that. Chronic substance use causes persistent brain changes that impact a person’s ability to cope with stress and maintain self-control. Without treatment, the problem is only likely to worsen.6,7

You can learn more about the specific types of treatment offered at AdCare, such as detox, inpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment. You can also encourage your partner to use our substance abuse assessment, which may make it more likely for them to seek help.

Protecting Yourself While Helping Your Partner Through Their Addiction

It can be stressful and difficult to cope when you’re helping a loved one with an addiction. You can be a safe resource for your partner while at the same time ensuring that you meet your own needs and preserve your boundaries. This might mean that you set limits, such as not staying home if they choose to drink or use drugs there, or that you try to avoid engaging in enabling behaviors, such as making excuses for your spouse or pretending not to see their substance use. Enabling behaviors can backfire and cause the person to avoid taking responsibility for themselves and their substance abuse, which only perpetuates the addiction.7

It can be hard to know when it’s time to seek professional help, but if you feel stressed and like you can’t cope on your own, you might want to consider seeking your own individual counseling from a qualified professional. Not only can a counselor help you cope and manage stress, but they can also show you how to take care of yourself, protect your mental health, and offer strategies for helping your partner with addiction. You might also consider attending local self-help meetings that are designed to support friends and family of loved ones struggling with addiction, such as Nar-Anon or Al-anon.

Don’t let addiction take control of your life any longer. Call us today at to learn more about addiction treatment at AdCare. There are two inpatient AdCare facilities, one rehab in Massachusetts, and one rehab in Rhode Island. AdCare also offers outpatient treatment and has sister facilities across the United States as well. Call us today to learn more about our comprehensive addiction treatment options.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
AdCare has multiple locations throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, making it easily accessible to most parts of New England. We offer an integrated system of care and have been helping individuals and families struggling with addiction for 45 years. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs in MA and RI or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.