How to Support a Spouse Going Through Withdrawal

Contributor: Roseann Rook, CADC Clinical Addictions Specialist Timberline Knolls

Watching a loved one struggle through a drug addiction can be painful, confusing, and overwhelming, especially when this person is your spouse. The reality is that drug addictions arise from many complex factors – some things which cannot necessarily be helped or prevented.

The tendency as a spouse, who is often observing things from an outside perspective, is to fall into a mindset of self-blame. It can be easy to question oneself as a loved one suffers, asking, “What could I have done differently?”, “What did I do wrong?”, or “Did I fail our marriage?”

On the other side of things, seeing a spouse struggle with a drug addiction can provoke feelings of resentment, anger, and frustration. You might find yourself questioning how your spouse could inflict these behaviors on you and your family, feeling somewhat of a victim of the whole ordeal.

Working Through an Addict’s Behaviors

Husband Supporting His Spouse Through Treatment. - addiction hopeAll of these feelings are valid and should be processed as part of the healing process from substance abuse and addiction. Relationships are complex and give us the opportunity to connect and fellowship with a person in our lives whom we have chosen to share ourselves with.

This also creates a sense of vulnerability, and weaknesses in relationships are often felt strongly and at times, harshly.

When it comes to supporting your spouse through an addiction, it is important to first come to the realization that you are not to blame or at fault for what has happened. Addictions develop from a combination of many different factors–many things which are out of your control, like biological influences or genetics.

The fact is, holding on to unnecessary guilt will not enable you to support your spouse fully and completely during their recovery journey, and it is essential to have appropriate ways for coping with the many different emotions you might be experiencing.

Understanding the Phases of Treatment

Working with a comprehensive and professional treatment team for drug addiction recovery is absolutely crucial for healing and recovery. Many individuals addicted to drugs will undergo a withdrawal phase as part of their recovery as they learn to physically, emotionally, and psychologically function without dependency on the drug.

The withdrawal aspect of treatment can be incredibly intense, coupled with severe health consequences resulting from detoxification. As a spouse, it may be helpful to understand that this is a short but intense phase, and your ongoing support and compassion can be helpful to your loved one in the midst of all they are experiencing.

Husband Struggling With Addiction Withdrawals. - addiction hope

Consider seeking out your own support as a means of having a healthy way of coping with the various things you might encounter during the recovery journey, and know that you are not alone in the struggles and obstacles you might be facing.

While there may be many things you want to process with your spouse, including aspects of your marriage, family and more, know that there is a right time in the recovery process. The first step toward full healing begins with abstinence from the drug or substance of choice.

When the body and mind are no longer under the influence of a substance, there becomes greater opportunity for deep healing and restoration on multiple levels.

Consider enlisting the help of a comprehensive and professional support team to guide you and your spouse throughout this difficult time. Know that you are not alone in this journey, and take each day one step at a time.

Community Discussion – Share Your Thoughts Here!

If you have supported a loved one through a drug addiction, what encouragement might you offer to another person in the same position?


About the Author:

Headshot of Roseann RookAs a Clinical Addictions Specialist, Roseann is responsible for conducting psycho-educational and process groups as well as providing individual counseling for addiction treatment including co-occurring disorders such as Eating Disorders and Mood Disorders at Timberline Knolls. She specializes in Process Addictions with a strong focus on Relationship Addictions.

Roseann was instrumental in the development of Timberline Knolls’ Addiction Program and the implementation of addressing Process Addictions into the curriculum. As a member of Timberline Knolls’ Clinical Development Institute, she has presented locally and at National conferences.

Roseann has worked in the addictions field since 1993, starting at Aunt Martha’s Youth Service as an addiction counselor moved on to counsel MISA clients at Grand Prairie Services followed by working for the YMCA Network for Counseling and Youth Development as an Addictions Counselor and Crisis worker. She returned to Grand Prairie Services for a brief stint to develop and implement an out-patient program before joining Timberline Knolls in 2006.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 26, 2017
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.