Opiate Addiction and Marriage

Gabrielle Applebury
Couple upset with each other

Opiate addiction can cause a massive strain on a relationship. This can lead to an increase in arguments, a decrease in healthy communication, marital separation, and potentially even divorce.

How Opiate Addiction Impacts Marriage

Opiate addiction can create a large rift between you and your spouse. You may notice your partner is pulling away from you emotionally, seems to be preoccupied, and has had a major shift in his or her energy level. You may also get a gut feeling something is going on but feel unsure about what it is. Over time, opioid addiction can lead to marital discord that feels irreparable. You may feel helpless, lonely, and isolated despite still being married. If your spouse is willing to get help for their addiction, as well as work on the marriage, you have a better chance of salvaging the relationship.

Signs a Spouse Is Addicted

It can be tricky to tell if your spouse has an addiction problem. The longer the addiction has been going on, the more signs and symptoms of opiate addiction will become apparent. Some include:

  • An increase in sneakiness, jumpiness, and lying as the addiction worsens and the need to get more opioids increases
  • An increase in sleepiness, an inability to maintain conversations, and lethargy because opioids are depressants, also known as downers
  • A decreased sex drive
  • Spending less time with their friends and loved ones
  • Missing or stolen items from the house used to sell for money to pay for opiates
  • Withdrawal symptoms that mimic flu-like symptoms
  • A shift or decrease in personal hygiene
  • Your spouse already has symptoms of a mood disorder that seem to be worsening

Seeking Help

Opioids are painkillers that create a euphoric and sometimes a numbing effect on the user. Often, those with chronic physical pain and those experiencing deep emotional pain, symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety reach for non-prescribed painkillers to self medicate. Depending on the intensity, duration, and frequency of use, there are several options available at varying price points. You can consider:

Seeking help
  • A detox center for medical assistance for getting clean
  • An inpatient rehab facility for 24/7 care for several weeks to months depending on the client's need
  • An outpatient rehab center that provides day treatment
  • An individual therapist and couples therapist that can assist with individual issues as well as couple's treatment
  • Group therapy run by professional counselors or therapists
  • Support groups run by peers for both the spouse addicted to opiods, as well as a separate group for spouses of those who are dealing with a partner who has an opioid addiction

Potential Outcomes

If you or your partner are willing to go through individual drug counseling or rehab and couple's counseling, the better chance there is of staying clean and maintaining your relationship. Research suggests increased closeness in marital relationships was a predictor for better outcomes in terms of drug abuse treatment and maintaining sobriety.

If your partner is not willing to go through treatment and continues to use opioids, you can consider separation or divorce as a means to protect yourself from an increasingly unhealthy relationship and home environment. Remember, your partner has to be ready to get help, and it is up to them to do the work. If they aren't ready, you will have to decide how long you are willing to wait and how much you are willing to put up with. This is an incredibly personal and potentially painful choice, but it is important to prioritize your mental and physical safety.

Finding Healthy Solutions

Opiate addiction can be challenging to experience firsthand and within a relationship. If you or your spouse are showing symptoms of opiate addiction, know that there are a myriad of helpful resources that can assist you and your loved one to work through this difficult period.

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Opiate Addiction and Marriage