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How to Get Your Wife or Husband into Rehab



In this post, we outline how to get your spouse into rehab. We list the signs of addiction and offer tips for approaching your spouse about his or her addiction.

If your wife or husband is addicted to drugs or alcohol, then it is likely impacting everybody in your family. Addiction is particularly devastating if you both have young children. It’s not uncommon for Social Services to investigate where they suspect a caregiver is abusing substances, and this investigation can lead to court proceedings to remove your children from your care.

Although the wish to help your spouse stop abusing substances is a noble one, your spouse may not see it this way when you attempt to discuss the matter. Many people who are addicted to substances will be in denial about this fact, and thus it’s common for them to view any form of intervention as unwanted interference. In this guide, we help arm you with effective intervention tips so your spouse does not react negatively to your concerns about his or her substance misuse.

Your spouse may believe he or she is able to stop using substances without help. You may even believe this claim, at least initially. However, as time goes by, it will become increasingly clear that your loved one is not about to stop abusing substances without professional help. In fact, most people are unable to stop abusing substances without some form of professional addiction treatment. It follows from this fact that one of your aims in addressing your concerns should be to convince your spouse to enter some form of treatment programme.

Attending a residential drug and alcohol rehab clinic is the most effective form of addiction treatment available today. Going to rehab will ensure your spouse is correctly detoxed with the necessary medical supervision. Following on from this detox, your spouse will attend therapy sessions. These sessions fully address the underlying mental causes of addiction and help to ensure your spouse’s recovery is sustained for the long term.

What are the signs of addiction?

We appreciate the fact that you are not an expert when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction. It thus may be difficult for you to conclusively say whether your spouse is an ‘addict’ or not. For this reason, we outline some of the signs that may indicate your spouse is indeed addicted to one or more substance.

If you notice these signs, then it’s important to act without delay. If you wait until your spouse hits rock bottom, then it’s likely some of the damaged caused by the addiction will be irreversible.

Common signs of drug and alcohol addiction include:

  • Not able to stop consuming drugs and alcohol even in the face of severe social and financial consequences
  • Suffer from negative emotional states such as anxiety when drugs/alcohol are not available
  • Experience a range of withdrawal symptoms when drugs/alcohol are not available
  • Neglects responsibilities at work and at home
  • Making friends with undesirable people
  • Degrading personal hygiene standards

How to approach your spouse about his or her addiction?

If you feel you may conclude with certainty that your spouse is indeed addicted to drugs or alcohol, then it’s better to address these concerns before it is too late. Generally speaking, the longer you wait to address these concerns, the harder it will be for your spouse to begin his or her recovery.

Often, his or her addiction will be obvious to everybody concerned, including your spouse. If this is the case, the issue will certainly feel an elephant in the room. Even if your spouse’s addiction is incontestable, it’s still important to approach the topic with caution. Attempt to tackle this delicate subject in a loving and non-confrontational manner. To do otherwise will only serve to raise your spouse’s defences.

There is always a risk your spouse could attempt to shut down the conversation before it even begins, and so you must tread very carefully, particularly at the beginning stages of this informal intervention. Hostility and anger are certainly two emotions you wish to avoid. If your spouse is becoming hostile or angry, then it may be better to abandon the conversation until another time.

We do not recommend you issue an ultimatum. The urge to issue an ultimatum in this situation is natural, but experience has told us ultimatums rare help, and they often serve to make matters worse. If you do not follow up on your ultimatum, it comes a hollow and empty threat.

During this intervention, it’s important to remain calm and reasonable. If the discussion does go well, then your spouse will probably promise to stop using drugs or alcohol. Please do not take this promise as a sign of progress. In 95% of cases, your spouse will be unable to stop using substances merely because he or she has promised to do so. Please know that addiction is a disease, and not a moral failing. Diseases do not disappear merely by wishful thinking, and this rule applies equally to the disease of addiction.

Since formal addiction treatment is typically required to defeat addiction, it follows that for an intervention to be considered a success, it must conclude with your spouse agreeing to enter some form of treatment programme. If your spouse promises to stop using drugs or alcohol but refuses to enter treatment, then take this as solid evidence that your spouse it not yet ready to change.

Why you can’t make the decision for them

The decision to attend an addiction treatment programme must emanate from your spouse and not for you. If you compel your spouse to go to rehab, then it’s likely that he or she will not be committed to the recovery process. Those in recovery cite the experience as the most difficult task they have ever tackled in their entire life. Consequently, your spouse is likely to relapse if he or she is anything less than a hundred percent committed to this goal.

During your intervention meeting, do not attempt to over-sell the idea of attending a rehab clinic. Instead, merely suggest the fact that going to rehab is probably your spouse’s best option. You could outline options and direct your spouse to resources so that he or she assesses the different options independently.

You can help your spouse focus on the benefits of attending a rehab clinic by asking questions such as “how could our lives improve if you stopped using drugs/alcohol?” This type of questioning promotes the realisation that continuing to use drugs and alcohol is not in anyone’s best interests.

Do not address your concerns whilst your spouse is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. To do so would be futile. Instead, wait until your spouse is sober so that you may conduct a calm and rational discussion. Another good tip is to discuss these issues in an unfamiliar and neutral environment. You could take your spouse to a coffee shop or a restaurant. Doing so may mean the discussion is more memorable and it will also serve to mark the occasion.

We also advise you to make a note of the date when you discussed your concerns. This allows you to conduct a progress meeting in future. You will be able to raise your concerns if much time has passed since you raised your concerns initially. If you raised your concerns 2-3 months ago and little has changed, this may indicate your best efforts are simply not enough. In this scenario, you may be best advised to consider contacting a professional interventionist.

A professional intervention is conducted by a professional therapist or an experienced addiction counsellor. You may elect for other family members or close friends to also engage in the professional intervention process. The aim of a professional intervention is to facilitate plans that will see your loved one begin a formal treatment programme.

It’s important to note that an intervention does not involve any form of addiction treatment other than getting your loved one to accept the need for treatment. Often, the person subject to the intervention will enter treatment programme shortly following the conclusion of the intervention. It’s not entirely unknown for the addict to enter treatment immediately, often only hours after the meeting has concluded.

The interventionist will help your loved one assess different treatment options either within the local area or further afield. The interventionist will educate your loved one about the treatment process. De-mystifying addiction treatment serves to encourage your loved one to attend without putting up resistance.

A professional interventionist will help remove mental roadblocks that serve to dissuade your loved one from entering rehab. Typically, these roadblocks are common, and the interventionist will know how best to break down each objection individually.

How to access local interventionists

To discover local interventionists, contact us today on 0800 088 66 86. We will assist in helping your loved one overcome the fear of entering a treatment facility. We help identify your loved one’s treatment needs and we then recommend treatment providers that we feel are best suited to meeting these needs.

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