Can a Marriage Survive Drug Addiction? A Complete Guide for Couples

Can a Marriage Survive Drug Addiction? A Complete Guide for Couples

The short answer to that question is yes. Drug addiction is a severe health problem that can have long-lasting ramifications on every relationship the affected person has, especially marriages.

Marriage is designed as a life-long commitment that bonds in sickness and in health. Unfortunately, drug addiction is one of the most serious illnesses that exist, making it difficult for many marriages to survive, but certainly not impossible.

The Effects Of Drug Abuse On Your Marriage

When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they often act irrationally. They can become easily irritated, aloof, and inattentive to a partner’s needs. Untreated drug abuse can also often lead to a host of other negative behaviors such as lying, stealing, and manipulation. These actions can place extreme strain on any relationship but especially a marriage.


For a marriage to last, it needs to be built on a strong foundation of trust. However, unfortunately, lying because of a drug addiction can erode that base. People with severe active addiction will often resort to lying to cover up their substance use. They will often not tell the truth about where they have been or what they have been doing, which can lead to a lack of trust in all aspects of the relationship. Distrust is one of the quickest ways to make a marriage unstable.


Often, when an addicted person has the substance they are abusing taken away from them, they will resort to doing things they would never do otherwise to get their hands on it. Whether this is stealing the drug or stealing money to obtain the drug, it negatively affects the spouse. Often, the spouse must answer for the person with an addiction’s actions.


Manipulation often takes lying a step further and makes the spouse feel as though things are their fault, as opposed to the drug addiction’s fault. When spouses are manipulated, it can lead to them feeling betrayed and used, which is not conducive to a healthy marriage.

Imbalance of Responsibility

All of the above behaviors can contribute to an imbalance of responsibility in the marriage. If one spouse spends a significant amount of time engaging in substance abuse, the other often has to pick up the slack with work, chores, and other obligations.

The addicted spouse is also typically unable to provide their significant other with the emotional support that everyone needs while dealing with life’s challenges.

What To Do When Your Spouse Is Addicted To Drugs

Once you know that your spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you need to take decisive action so that the problems discussed above do not befall your marriage. Consider the following techniques to help your partner through their active addiction while keeping your marriage intact.

Set Clear Boundaries

Your spouse needs to understand that their behavior and substance use is unacceptable. If you set clear boundaries, then they may begin to understand how their actions are affecting you, which may provide them with an impetus to stop. If they continually choose to ignore your boundaries, then you must institute consequences.

One boundary that you may need to implement depending on the circumstances is separating your bank accounts. If your significant other keeps spending money on their addiction, then this may be one of the only ways to ensure that they do not spend all your money.

Exercise Patience

Addiction is a long and arduous road. You cannot expect things to get solved overnight. Unfortunately, there will likely be many ups and downs throughout the journey. You also need to be prepared for relapses and for things to get worse before they get better.

Recovering from drug addiction is not a linear process, and things could likely look awesome one day, and then you could be back to rock bottom the next. However, in the end, everything will be worth it.

While you need to be clear and direct with your spouse, you need to be careful not to be too harsh. Being overly strict can be counterproductive. If you push your loved one too hard, then they may react negatively.

Take Care of Yourself

While your spouse may be the one with the disease, that does not mean that you are not experiencing trauma. If your marriage is going to survive, you need to feel supported as you work to support your significant other.

Seek out support from friends and other relatives. Finding someone in your life who has experienced something similar with someone close to them can be an invaluable resource so that you don’t feel alone. If you don’t have anyone like that in your life, then you at least need to try to find a close friend or family member to whom you can vent.

If you have children, you need to make sure that they are safe as well and that they experience as few negative repercussions of the situation as possible. This process can take many forms and, in some cases, may require the children to live somewhere else. You need to decide what is best for your family.

Seek Professional Help

When dealing with addiction in a family, you are often walking a thin line that can be hard to navigate. It is often nearly impossible to do so without outside assistance. You are not weak if you need to ask for help. In fact, it is one of the strongest and most selfless things you can do to seek out help for yourself as well as your spouse.

Many treatment centers also offer support for families. If you’re thinking of enlisting the help of a professional facility for your spouse, don’t be afraid to ask what help they offer for the families of those affected too.

Why You Should Get Professional Help For Your Spouse

Of the tactics introduced above, seeking professional help for substance use is likely the most important, which is why the topic warrants additional discussion. Getting expert advice is critical because addiction treatment is a complicated issue. 

Addiction is a Disease

Addiction causes a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be helped by medications and other addiction treatments. However, these treatments can only be accessed with the assistance of professionals at treatment centers. If you refuse to seek out professional help for your spouse, then you are leaving all these options on the table that may be the perfect fit for them.

Affected Parties Need Both Physical and Emotional Support

Addiction is such a traumatizing problem that affects all aspects of someone’s life. Dealing with this kind of pain can be extremely difficult because it can disrupt everything. You cannot ignore the significant role that mental health plays in these types of situations. However, enlisting the help of professionals and getting addiction treatment can be instrumental in helping people to get through addiction.

Help the Whole Family

Professionals often facilitate support groups and treatment programs that allow all family members to heal through engaging in open dialogue. Usually, when the addicted person realizes the damage they have caused to their family, they are more motivated to work toward changing their behavior. These support groups also ensure that all members of the family get the help they need so that everyone can recover.

Counselors Can Provide a Plan for the Future

When battling addiction, it can be easy to feel despair and not know where to turn. However, professionals are well-equipped to provide patients with steps that will help them to return to healthy routines slowly.

Counselors can also advise clients on whether what they are doing is working or not. If things turn out to not be giving the desired results, then they can offer a different course of action. Professional expertise on what the next steps should be can prove to be invaluable.

Professionals Have Training, Education, and Experience

Professionals have spent countless hours studying and practicing methods to improve the lives of people with addiction. The odds are that professionals have seen a situation that is similar to yours before and will have ideas of what substance abuse treatment to try to make things better. Additionally, when you are dealing with an addicted spouse, they may be more likely to listen to the advice of an outside party like experts at a treatment center with significant experience.


If you discover that your significant other has a severe substance abuse problem, that is not necessarily a death sentence for your marriage. While it will likely make everything significantly more complicated, it is not impossible to overcome. You can get help. The sooner you start making changes and seek out professional help, the less likely your spouse’s condition will have adverse effects on your marriage.

Contact an Expert

Even if all hope seems lost, don’t quit before you reach out to an expert – like Master Center for Addiction Medicine. We will be happy to speak with you about your specific situation to find a course of action that will work best for you.

Our treatment center operates physician-led treatment programs to help your loved one receive the best care possible. If you need to get help for your spouse, give us a call today.